Okay, Okay , after years of shamelessly bashing Mumbai as the cruel city that never cared, I admit it. I miss Mumbai. My Bombay. No more sea breezes, and roadside paani puri worth eating out here, where I am now. No more walking along the 5km stretch of marine drive and breathing in the cool air on winter mornings. Most of all, no more Shiamak Davar’s dance classes and Ritamabhara Ma’am’s belly dance lessons.
Mumbai gave me some fond memories. The star studded Navratris. I have met every Bollywood singer and actor, even Mr. Bacchhan. Alcohol was never a problem. I could buy it 5 minutes away from my house. I was a member at the best sports facility in the city, NSCI. We used to go watch the Derby. I miss Theobroma and Celejor, my favourite bakeries. The street shopping on Colaba Causeway and Linking road. Law Garden is no match for that.
I miss the Kala ghoda Arts festival, the crazy concerts. Definitely miss the courteous guys. I didn’t find them here. What do I miss more than all of this? The rains! Getting wet in the sea waves that would come on to the roads. Travelling in local trains instead of noisy autos that topple every other day. The roads were easy to remember, unlike Ahmedabad.
I miss the decent coffee. Nowhere have I found a good coffee shop in the entire Gujarat. They think coffee and milk is essentially the same thing, no offence though. I miss the crazy Marine Drive Diwali displays. I miss having every service on speed dial. Including ordering fruits and veggies.
I miss my childhood friends, Chahat, Ankita, and my first boyfriend who is still my best friend. I miss the crazy trips to Lonavala and Goa, whenever I wanted. Mumbai was such a free place. I could wear whatever I wanted without being stared at. I wouldn’t be stared at like I was an alien if I did not know Marathi. Yeah, that happens here in Ahmedabad if you don’t know Gujarati. I miss the anonymity. Ahmedabad is a small place, everyone knows who you are.
I miss the free movie premieres where we got Pizza and cakes, again for free. I miss the solitude by the sea. I miss eating actual Italian food, not sweetened Indianised Italian food. What I really keep missing is the element of surprise. What I keep missing are the memories. Maybe given a chance, I would not go back. Nevertheless, Mumbai made me the creative artist I am. It is because of the people I met, the schools I went to, and my experiences that I became a writer. I cherish these memories. They made me who I am. Mumbai has a gift. It makes you its own, no matter where you come from. No other city can replace Mumbai, or be as good. Once a mumbaikar, always a mumbaikar.