Mumbai Mirror: Part 1
The first thing that hits you about the city is the smell, a damp smell of garbage dump. For a second you start thinking that it is a city full of only garbage and that awful smell. Your sense of smell leads you to notice only shanties and garbage pile ups by the street. Then as you enter the city limits,the rotten smell recedes and you slowly reconcile yourself to the fact that nobody would notice you in the milling crowd, even if you walk stark naked on the street, except for maybe some political moral police with loud protest against your ‘Haute Couture’ sense of dressing. Then you realise it is a city where- ‘sab chalta hai’ and offers a complete sense of independence and that feeling of ‘The invisible man’ being rewritten all over again by Mr.Wells.
Business, business, busyness! That is what you see all over. People walking, running, talking, romancing (oh, yes Mumbaikars are quite exponents as far as public display of hand holding, necking type 'PD' of romance is concerned. Maybe the absence of space in houses and of course bedrooms, push them to streets, parks and malls). Yes, it is a very loving city and it loves being busy. Nobody has time so they understand perfectly about ‘do call and visit’ relatives, appointments and value of reaching on time.
The wonders are the traders. I mean a simple visit to a vegetable market with my ‘Mumbai savy’ spouse, introduced me to the fastest swiftest and loudest breed of humanoids called ‘Bhajiwalah’. They have this astounding capacity of selling ten different varieties of vegetables to ten different customers and bargaining, weighing, packaging in the flimsy looking plastic bags and handing you back the exact amount of changes...and guess what? All within a span of 2 mins 30 secs (I had the audacity to consult a stopwatch). See that is what a busy city is all about. Time is money-the faster you make it the better.
Mumbaikars do not shout inside their houses and flats. The quiet neighbourhood drove me to think that Mumbaikars do not have undisciplined adolescents who refuse to obey the righteous parents and in turn get preached (as in- using the same decibel level in talking to a large mass!), they do not have bothersome neighbours or mother in laws and thus a reign of peace resides all around. But the fact is they have all the above but what they respect in others is the personal space and to let it be. They pretty much keep their opinion restricted only to those who would want to hear.
Mumbaikar teenagers and adolescents- sizes vary from ‘xs’ to ‘xxl’ and to the utmost delight of this author, huge range of designer clothes for the size ‘xl’ ! Svelte fashionable teenagers and designer model youths are splattered all over the city, yet a big mass of middle-aged stylish ladies with matched sense of style make you feel so much at home. Yes it is a city which embraces all in a most disenchanted yet a loose hug.
People understand the value of money, so even in biggest arcades you will find stores with vast range of goods catering to every income group. The business and service community are very quality conscious and strive to serve better without being irritated. Thus you have 4th hand colour TV sets being sold for a paltry amount and with ‘after sale service’ (my better half possesses one...although now, after a tortured life, it has breathed its last, and left me wondering, if now it will be treated with ‘Warranty period service after death’! )
And it is a place with people and people everywhere, milling in and out of the buildings, rail stations, malls, hotels, restaurants, houses, subways,footbridges, shops,crossing roads, on treetops and drains! (that was a bit far fetched). But yes they are everywhere , a city full of people to keep you company.
( This post will be followed by Part 2 &3)