Mumbai from the Eyes of a Delhite: Part 1
[This is the first in a series of blogs about Mumbai]
Despite spending the first two decades of my life hopping from the dense forests of Assam to the cool climes of Wellington, from the deserts of Jodhpur to the quiet locale of Udhampur and even the metropolitan Delhi, I had never lived in Mumbai.
If anything, by the time I finished my graduation and post-graduation from the capital of the country, I was in mind and heart, a true-blue Delhite. It was, after all, the longest I had ever lived in any single city, and that itself was enough to qualify it as my hometown.
The closest I had ever come to Mumbai, then, was my discovery of the city from the eyes of Lin in Gregory David Roberts’ phenomenal book. Given that I went about touting Shantaram as one of the best books I’d ever read, I should have been excited to go to Mumbai, when I landed an internship there during my MBA days.
Instead, the two months I spent there passed away in the tedious humdrum of Monday to Saturday office drudgery, battling the unbearable humid heat of April and May and hating everything about the city. Well, “everything” never got beyond cabs to and from the office, and since I never did end up exploring the city, there wasn’t much to like anyway. In retrospect, I believe I suffered from a bit of the mental block they say every Delhite has for Mumbai, just as a Mumbaiya has for Delhi!
And then Fate played a happy joke on me, just a couple of months later. My rendezvous with this city, it seems, was not to end so easily.
So here I was, applying for jobs with leading companies in the last few months on campus, praying to God that I get placed in Delhi. I even skipped interviewing with companies known to be based out of Mumbai or elsewhere. Ok, let me clarify that my obsession with Delhi also came from the fact that the person I had lost my heart to and was planning to get hitched to, lived in Delhi. That’s where I wanted to work, get married and settle down.
But guess what? Well, you would have guessed it by now. I landed a job with a leading bank and along with the congratulatory handshake, I was doled out my job location: Mumbai! Bingo! Fate had a good laugh on me that day.
On 17 June 2012 I landed in this city, determined to continue to be loyal to Delhi and to get myself right back there at the very earliest. While I grudgingly accepted that I loved the sea view in Mumbai and the city was far safer than Delhi, I would still focus on the smell, the slums, the traffic, the over-stuffed local trains, the high cost of living and every little imperfection I could unearth.
Gradually, however, this city grew onto me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. It offered me a sense of liberation I have felt in no other city of this country, not before and not ever since. It wriggled its way into making place in a heart that was quite determined not to allow it in. It grew onto me.
I spent nine months there. Nine months of just Mumbai and me.
I discovered the city. And I discovered myself.
So here’s a blog-series, where I’d like you to see Mumbai, as I saw it, from the eyes of a Delhite.
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.