As a kid I really wanted to live in Mumbai some day. Not that I wanted to be a film star but I had heard about Mumbai so much in movies and other popular entertainment devices that I had to experience the place. Somehow some stars did some funny jig and I landed in Mumbai in 2007. This was my first job after my MBA and I had my sis and a few classmates from college who lived in Mumbai. And thats all the people I knew.
So one fine day I landed in Mumbai and boy, was I was glad to be here! One thing led to another and eventually I ended up spending bout 3 years in Mumbai. In these three years I did change my job, converted those classmates into awesome friends, made a ton of new friends, learnt a lot about life and work (blame/credits goes to my ex boss), found this woman who I knew I could spend rest of my life with, developed an insatiable hunger for money, realized that life is more than a 9 to 6 job and pleasing your boss and traveled through the length and breadth of this amazing state called Maharashtra amongst other things. And as a result, grew (or may be evolved?) as a person. All in all I had a wonderful time in Mumbai. There was something about the place that I cant pinpoint that made the city dear to me. So much so that I keep coming back at some pretext or the other.
Anyways, like all love affairs, the crush on Mumbai ended as suddenly as it had happened. I had decided that I have had enough of working for someone else and I needed to take command of my destiny. I decided to move back to Delhi and try my hand at something. Kunal and I started Cyntax (we shut it down in less than six months, more about it some other day). I moved onto another job within Delhi. The thought of finding work in Mumbai didnt even strike me. With time, memories and passions faded and Mumbai became a yet another dot on the map that I had been to.
Today, on a Saturday morning, as I write this, I am in Mumbai and staring at a weekend ahead of me. I am not excited about being here and I am wondering what was it back then that made me alive when I lived here back then. The obvious suspects are people. I had the fortune of making some of my best friends here and every day there was something or the other we kept planning. I hated antics of my friends and yet there was something endearing about them. Not that they arent here anymore but then something is missing.
The other key suspect is opportunities that Mumbai made possible. This was the first time and place where I had the power of bumping into some hot shot and pick his brains. I could meet so many interesting people, almost on daily basis, and rack brains with them. I could think on brands, business, the state of nation and other useless thing. I felt alive with all the useless mental masturbation I was engaged in.
Then may be it was the umpteen opportunities to hit the road. Mumbai is perfect for short weekend trips. You can take your car (or your bike) and practically goto hundreds of places. While I lived in Mumbai, I traveled out on most weekends and explored mountains, rivers, dams, hill stations, roads, people and cultures. Mostly my partner in crime was Neo and there were times when we'd hit the road and then decide on the destination. As they say, we weren't intent on arriving. For us it was about the journey. The roads are a perfect escape from all the miseries. It lets you free your mind of all the bullshit thats occupying your head and allows you to start afresh. It is also a great thinking tool. And since you are on the road and driving, there is no way you can spoil the free thinking by taking notes and scribbling ideas. The roads are exhilarating. Like Red says, the excitement that a free man has, when he is about to start a journey, the travel excited me more than any other endeavor. May be I need to become a Raju Guide or something?
Or was it the freedom? Because Mumbai is probably the only city in the country where you can find public transport, food, people at all hours. And all these are accessible and not limited to a select few. Or was it the beautiful buildings and lanes that crowd the town side? Or the vastness of Navi Mumbai? Or was it the frequent star spotting? After all Mumbai is home to bollywood and cricket and the tryst with so many stars so often only make the possibility of you becoming one, real! Isn't that what attracts most of people who land up in Mumbai? Not the stardom, but the hope. The desire. And the opportunity.
Obviously there are things that I loath about Mumbai (read bad roads, politicians, traffic etc) but I then guess if I could put things on a weighing scale, the bad things would not make an iota of difference to awesomeness that is Mumbai. Like they say you need to be here to be able to see things for yourself. If you havent had the opportunity to experience Mumbai yet, you need to pack your bags and plan a trip soon. Wait, no need to even pack bags, why waste time in frivolities of the modern life? Nomads were so much cooler!
And in the end, thank you Mumbai for touching my life and giving me everything that you have showered on me. And for all the things that you are yet to gift me!
P.S.: This post was meant to be a rant AGAINST Mumbai and while writing this I realize I couldn't come up with anything against Mumbai. I think I need to fix shit in my head rather than blaming it on Mumbai.