It is not amongst the most beautiful cities of India. It is not even a place where life is relaxed, yet Mumbai attracts people like no other city of India. Mumbai is both the commercial and entertainment hub of India. It is the dream city to which people come from all parts of the country to fulfil their dreams of becoming ‘successful, famous and rich’.
My own visit to Mumbai, though it had nothing to do with becoming successful, was full of anticipation. I was visiting my sister and expected to stay there for sometime. My expectation from Mumbai, like many others were sky high. However, I felt them crumbling down the moment I stepped out of the station. Nowhere could I see even the faintest glimpse of the image I had in mind of Mumbai. Being from Delhi, the metropolitan look that I was hoping to see of Mumbai was grossly missing. The roads were narrow and the crowd sometimes became too much to handle. All through my way from station to home, I constantly peeped out of the three wheeler to see the Mumbai of my dreams, but all in vain.
Fortunately, my disappointment from Mumbai ended very soon. Mumbai had so much to offer that the ‘look aspect’ really took a back seat in few days. Along with my sister, I paid a visit to the Gateway of India and took a ride in the ferry. The ferry, we thought, would take us to the famous Elephanta caves, but it never did. Not the fault of ferry wala though because we heard things wrong. The ferry was just supposed to take a round on the sea and come back. Even then, I enjoyed myself a lot and this piece of misunderstanding continued as a joke for the next hour or so between the both of us.
I also paid a visit to Juhu beach and quiet a few lesser known beaches. Juhu was all lighted up and glittered beautifully in the evening. The surrounding was vibrant - the foodsstalls were full, the vendors were going around showcasing their items and the photographer were busy spotting and clicking tourists. We also played in water, felt the sand slipping from below our feet and got ourselves clicked.Visits to the Mahalaxmi Temple, Haji Ali, Marine Drive followed and made me more than happy. I could now see the religious as well as modern side of Mumbai. It was as if slowly Mumbai had started revealing its treasures to ward off my initial discontentment.
Shopping was next on our list. We visited both small and big shopping centres in close vicinity and bought lots of items. The prices were reasonable and the variety, good. I really had to supress my laughter everytime the salesman described his clothes as ‘mast’. The statement invariably went like this, “ekdum mast lag raha madam, le lijiye”. It was very difficult for me stop my laughter initially and quiet a few times, I actually burst out right there leaving them a bit embarassed sometimes and dumbfounded at others.
What I most enjoyed during my stay in Mumbai was the rains. Never before had I seen rainfall for 3 – 4 consecutive days with very little interval. It was true that I just couldn’t go out anywehere because of the rains but just watching the rainfall for so long was immensely enjoyable for me. Another thing which I enjoyed was travelling in local train. I anyhow will not advise anyone to travel during peak hours, viz, during office hours because the rush at this point of time is just too much for anyone not used to it. You really need lots of alacrity, patience and practice to travel during these hours. For the rest of the day, the crowd is manageable.
Travelling by train gave me a first hand idea of life of the people in Mumbai. For them, local trains are a lifeline. Without these trains, life in Mumbai becomes crippled and I witnessed that myself when heavy rains seriously affected the running of trains and large number of people got stranded where they were.
Thankfully, the situation improved very soon and life got back to its normal self. Mumbai, after all, is known for its resilience and under no circumstance does it goes down. Infact, such a situation saw complete strangers coming together to bail out each other from difficult situations. I realised that it is this spirit of Mumbai that keeps it going despite all odds
There were various other aspect of Mumbai that came to my notice during my stay in Mumbai. I wished to explore Mumbai more but had to cut short my trip because of certain reasons. I was surprised that I was feeling bad to leave a city which I did not like initially. Also, I knew I had to come back to know and understand Mumbai more. I had come to Mumbai and was leaving with an anticipation. This is Mumbai, a city that never fails to charm an incoming visitor.