Today, after six years, I saw Mumbai again like a traveller. And it still looks and feels a lot like Bombay. Sat in the backseat of a Fiat taxi steered by a mad man, got my toe crunched at Dadar station, got semi-molested by a hijra (Really, I even lost some of my arm-hair in the process. Traumatic.), and got my undergarments drenched in the shocking, pissing, unstopping rain.
Felt like time travel, especially in contrast to Delhi which has changed so much even while keeping the same name. And I don’t say that in a good way. It’s a bit sad, really.
And still I found myself facing the sea and smoking a cigarette, and wondering what life here would be like. As almost everyone who visits doubtlessly does, such is the inexplicable charm of this stapu-court of puddles.
I suppose the appeal lies somewhat in the promise of what is (a bit oxymoronically) called a ‘new start’. One where nobody knows what t-shirts you have in your wardrobe, what your nickname was in school, the courses you flunked in college, the girls you claimed to love, all those silly things you used to do, and all the ‘starts’ where you tried and you failed. And attempt to wipe the slate clean, as they say, especially when you don’t like what has been scribbled over it. Again, I don’t know if it’s a good idea or not, but it’s certainly one that has its appeal.
In two more days, I’ll go back to my life where I ponder over which car (and which variant) to buy, create Excel sheets to calculate the EMIs, and worry about the quantum of my expected increment. Until then, I dream.
I have never been happier to step on the wretched soil of Delhi. For the first time in 3 days, I can see the sky and my socks are completely dry.
I don’t know how people live in Mumbai. Most of my time was spent trying to get somewhere without being in a stampede, ironing my only pair of jeans (to dry them), and trying to figure out if it was my sweat or the rain which was constantly dripping into my eyes. It has no roads, no drains and no sun. Someone said the only way to keep your balls dry is to shove one of those silica gel packets into your underwear. I seriously tried to find one of those. City of wet fucking dreams.
But just before I left, I heard the greatest live cover of Sultans of Swing I have ever heard (about which no one was giving a damn) at a place called ‘Out of the Blue’. I think it made up for all the misery of the 3 preceding days.
So yes, I think I’ll go back.