Won Over by the Spirit of Mumbai

By Piyushi Dhir

Mumbai from the Eyes of a Delhite: Part 2

[This is the second in a series of blogs about Mumbai]

My first six weeks in Mumbai were spent in the cocooned world of The Trident across my office. In typical corporate style, we were housed in great luxury during the ‘honeymoon period’ of our new jobs, when the company is out to fatten the proverbial goat before the slaughter.

Rooms done in red and white overlooked a swimming pool. The havoc left behind in the morning was always magically cleared up, so that we returned to spick-and-span rooms in the evening. Dirty laundry would turn into spotless, fresh clothes sitting demurely on our beds by the time we returned from office. A daily supply of exotic fruits would appear by our bedside. A five-star gym with trainers, a sparkling swimming pool, steam and sauna chambers, rich buffets laid out temptingly morning and night that left us spoilt for choice and room service at our beck-and-call. Not a wonder that we barely felt like stepping out of the lavish comfort of our sheltered and imperial world.

It was on occasional evenings that my colleagues and I stepped out to explore the city that first pampered month. That is when we logged the usual favourites: Bandstand, Carter Road, Colaba, Marine Drive, Juhu, Prithvi. It was difficult not to fall for the exquisiteness of South Bombay: the Victorian setting, the junk jewellery of Colaba, the coolness of Monty’s, the ‘Queen’s necklace’ at Marine Drive, the sheer ‘yummy’ness of Theobroma (the name itself so royal- ‘Food of the Gods’). Not to forget the awe of being in Leopold which proudly carries the legacy of both, Shantaram and the Mumbai blasts.

It is with great pride that the café sports its two-fold fame: the famous book by Gregory Roberts stacked up for sale at the cafe’s counters; and the mirrors inside still carrying the cracks left behind by the bullet shots from the 2008 Mumbai attacks. There is no attempt to hide the tragedy; no pretense of forgetting it.

The Spirit of Mumbai

A few steps ahead stands another monument- The Taj Hotel. Burnt and battered in the same attack, the hotel has been resurrected, like a phoenix. They have not forgotten the pain of the ordeal, but they still welcome visitors to the Gateway of India with hospitality and humility. Just pausing in front of it and looking up fills one with pride. Yes, even me, an outsider- feels inspired by the resilience of these people, brought down to their knees in 1996, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2011 by ruthless terrorism.

It is not that they are unaffected. How can they, when their lives are torn asunder?

But it is an active choice they make- to force themselves back onto their feet, hold out a hand to each other and move on- again and again and again.

Their actions cry out- that life will move on. No one can take that away from them.

This spirit, this strength, this resilience- there is a powerful lesson in it, for each of us. And Mumbai won me over with it.

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About the Author

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.