I'm not even going to attempt to write anything much here. It will take me
half a lifetime to do just that. What else can I say? This is where I was
born. Spent 30 years of my life. Sometimes, being a Bombayite is easier
for me than being an Indian. A travel freak myself, I have explored all
the nooks and crannies of this great big city of, they say, 15 million,
(half the population of Canada?) only to discover that I still have a lot
to learn about this immensely complicated, vibrant & ever-changing city.
my separate travel/photolog on Bombay city)
this place - and this time around, as always, I came back discovering
things both good, and bad - exhaust & pollution, human over-crowding,
roads overflowing with dinky foreign cars, cell phones, the ever-existent
municipal bureaucracy and inefficiency, McDonalds & Pizza Hut, Cosmo &
Elle, BEST's (the local bus service) impressive smart card service,
insurance companies (insurance in India??), polite Customs officers at the
airport, fabulous hospitality & service in the Indian skies, road
re-construction work & dust ... So why this romance with a city that has
endless problems, a permanent state of chaos, and a confusing set of
Well, I'll miss ..
~ getting up to a perfect morning sun every single day (sigh, I might not
feel so bad if it wasn't still winter in Canada even as I write this ..)
~ papayas, chikoos (sapota), guavas, mangoes, watermelon
~ a glowing sunset every evening by the beach (okay, okay - there's
permanent smog hanging over the city now)
~ innumerable restaurants serving delicious food by the highways &
roadways, the alleyways, the shacks, the road-side corners, the forbidden
~ family and dog (need I say more?)
~ more family - this time in the form of neighbours plying you with exotic
dishes from their native cities .. "Please taste this and let us know what
you think of it ...." shameless sampling by yours truly of wonderful
home-made food from Kerala, Mangalore, Delhi and other far-off places!
~ pesky crows squawking outside my bedroom window just as I'm about to
start my siesta
~ the sea air, the smell of fish (rotting sometimes!), and the taste of
salt on your skin
~ aromas floating into our home from neighbouring kitchens .. aahaa - the
T's (family initial's) are having chicken korma for dinner today, and the
S's - they are having some kind of a fish fry - probably in red masala,
oh, and B is making roti's in ghee, while K will be serving Mangalorean
coconut curry ...
~ all those friendly faces that keep you busy answering your doorbell
through the day - the doodhwala (milkman), the paperwalla (newspaper boy),
the bhajiwalla (vegetable grocer), the macchiwali (fisherwoman) and the
string of cats that follow her, the istriwalla (chappie who irons your
cottons and ruins them sometimes), the jamadar (garbage-collector), the
vaatchmen (security at the main gates), the maali (gardener), the
pau-wallah (bread/bakery man), the bai (maidservant), the list seems
endless .. ~ and all those faces you'd rather not see, like the telephone-wallah,
the elektrishun (electrician), the palamber (plumber -groan), the gas-wallah
(the cooking gas company), and oh my God - the Income-Tax wallah!!
~ coconut trees, sound of sea, crashing of the surf
~ ice-cream - I mean REAL ice-cream, not the wimpy non-fat kind which
doesn't deserve to be called ice-CREAM!
~ unlike in wintery Canada, just wearing your slippers and going out
through the door for a 'chakkar' (aimless walk) and some 'hawa' (fresh
one of my last evenings there, I walked down to the jetty very close to my
home in Versova to catch the sunset. I was in time to capture the huge
sailing boats coming in from the seas and docking at the muddied shores.
The scene at the beach was frenetic. Ice blocks (used to preserve the
fish) were being carted speedily by young men to the boats. The women on
the other hand, were sorting the catch, and some had laid out part of the
catch for sale - crab, prawns, pomfret, skate, kite-fish, eel, shell-fish,
catfish, kingfish, and much more .
The sea-bounty was extremely fresh and inviting, so after a bit of
obligatory haggling, I bought some prawns. The fisher folk in Bombay are
known for their friendly ways, and before long, I had acquired one of
their rickety stools, and was being instructed in the fine art of selling
fish. This is what Bombay is about - being comfortable with the person
next to you ... being comfortable in a sea of humanity, even if it's one
hell of a tight squeeze ... Being different is cool, getting along and
having a whale of a time together is even cooler!
Among the friendly macchiwalis (fisherwomen) at Versova.
Now that's what I call a decent-sized fresh prawn .. yes some were still
waving their feet at me.
The woman on my left, is shelling the prawns I just bought.
Jodhpur : Bombay: