Mumbai Diaries VIII

May 5, 2011

It is rather surprising (or maybe its not) how a single incident makes you see the same old things in a different light.  Maybe it’s the fickle nature of mind, or maybe it’s just me. I just hope that it is a temporary phase, some dreary side effect of an unfortunate incident which happened with me, and has ruined much of the charm.  Maybe the cynics and the criticizers of this place have had too many such incidents!

Nothing nasty, just the theft of my phone, On that fateful day, after that interesting piece of cinema called ‘Shor in the City’. Bollywood certainly is quite charmed by its native city, so that large lengths of reel have been marked with the tit bits and musings about it. So the city in the said movie had to be it only. Anyways if it talks about Shor(Noise), it has to be Mumbai!  And what a picture that was! Real, Gritty, un-polished, not glamorized, just the way it is. The whole angle of the pirated books selling has been so innately shown. It is really  shocking to avid readers , the extent to which the stolen, or pirated copies of the book are on sale all over the most ‘elite’ areas of the posh town of SoBo (a common for South Bombay) , including areas around CST, Churchgate, Flora Fountain, and even Police headquarters! Apart from this, the movie also provides a visual treat in form of the narrow lanes and the cramped chawls and apartments amidst the wide roads and sprawling mansions. And ofcourse, that feeling of familiarity! A few months here, and the whole movie watching process has got a new dimension – that of spotting the familiar places. Only after being here you realize the extent to which most of us have already seen Mumbai, thanks to the movies. A lot, and really a lot of the scenes are shot in the city itself, and not including those inside the Filmcity premises. Infact, the High Street Phoenix mall, where the movie was playing, itself made a few appearances in the movie, much to the delight of the audience and even arousing a little clap, which was pleasantly surprising, considering the supposedly high profile crowd of this area, Lower Parel. The Marine Drive, ofcourse has been used endlessly in our films, the most recent and memorable being Wake Up Sid. Churchgate, Townhall, Jogeshwari being some other commonly used places, but the queerest being the roads. Yes,the Mumbai roads. At many places, especially the crossroads or relatively narrow roads, they’re made up not like the others, but of peculiar shaped stones. Irrelevant detail, one might say, but then after observing at so many places, and when you find the same thing in various scenes in movies, and even ad films, you know its Mumbai!

Dadar station, as mentioned earlier, is always the most crowded of all. So much so that even while waiting for the train at platform you’re almost touching and being touched by other people. As I updated my status about a certain Karma being a bitch, probably some of my own karma came back to haunt me as with the arrival of train there is a mini stampede kind of situation, and I, despite being rather expecting this, am pushed here and there, and while keeping a vigil for my wallet somehow get in the train and it is a moment before we all settle at our positions, if there is any such thing, and that’s when I realize that my phone is missing.  Panic seizes me instantly, for though it was a horribly slow and irritating piece of technology, yet it had drew quite a hole in wallet, and had not even completed as many months as its price, in thousands. Funnily, the first thing occurred to me was to chant All is well with a hand on my heart, and it actually helped to calm down the nerves. Then the good fellow travelers offered me their phones to try my number, which expectedly was switched off. They even helped in some little searching here and there, of course with no results. The next station, Kurla arrived in about 5 minutes, and I boarded a train back to Dadar, to look around at the platform, though knowing in my heart that nothing could be done now. Even the railway policemen come to no use with their  ‘’ab to kuch nahi ho sakta , idar sambhal ke rehne ka na’’! Gone it was, forever, and with it so many memories, about 5500 messages, my song collection. Sob, sob.

After some moments of grief, I head towards my Uncle’s home to make arrangements, and as I book an auto and it moves, a middle aged woman, clad in a jeans and tee comes running, ‘’Do you mind, I am in a hurry?’’ Why would I! But I did mind her constant attempts of striking a conversation with me, when I was not yet over the grief. About my religion, my work, location everything under the sun, though I just answered as monosyllabically as possible so as not be rude. Then very suggestively the lady asked me to note down a number in case I need any help in this city, where people are ‘’really bad’’. This did not come as much of a surprise, as on a certain level I was probably expecting it all along. Then she stopped the auto, and with a smile and a ‘see you later’, signaled the auto to leave. And then it occurred to me, how she cleverly used me to save the fare, as the driver must have thought she was with me judging by the volume of words spoken, which, being in English, he would mostly not have understood, and of course the ‘see you later’ thing. Though it did not cause me any further monetary loss, (as if could bear any more!) but I definitely felt ‘used’, and not in the way I would like it!

Really, would one need more reasons to feel at odds with this place? And since then, as if my eyes have lost all the romanticism and charm that they saw earlier in places. The choking with crowd city, packed places, cramped compartments, long lines for local tickets, the stinking slums ,the  random roads, the bizarre  beggars, the menacing mob, the terrifying traffic, the …oh so many things! So much so that the only option to avoid turning into one of those cynics mentioned is to divert the mind towards some of the pleasant memories of the days gone by, in the Magic that this city was, to me.

Essel World and Water Kingdom are two names, which definitely most of us, of the grown up in 90s would identify the most, with famous ‘Ghar nahi jaunga main, Essel world me rahunga main’ ad etched in the memory, and just for that sake, you ought to visit it, you owe it to that kid!  The fact that they are indeed super fun places to be, just fits the bill perfectly. Quite heavy on the pockets maybe, but it proved to be totally worth it, as amidst all the water fun, there was the fashion babe Mugdha Godse to perform for us, as it was the 13th anniversary of water kingdom. Totally paisa vasool! The Goraai beach also lies on the way to these parks, and is akin to other beaches, but that doesn’t make it less fun, especially when you have someone to play with!

It is not very often that you dine in a restaurant of a seven star hotel, and that too Trident Oberoi. And no matter how much you try to stay casual, act normal, you do end up wide mouthed a couple of times, with its rich décor, lighting and architecture. Funnily enough, it justifies all the clichés that one tends to associate with such multi starred restaurants, like bizarre and unrecognizable names on the menu, the over enthusiastic, sometimes to the extent of being creepy waiters (wait, are we allowed calling them that!)  , and most of all, the not-the-most-delicious-ever food, ofcourse being low on those spices and mirchi! And as we discussed the chances of some little celebrity dining there, my hands stopped at a distance from my mouth, as a certain Mr. Arbaaz khan walked in, followed by Sohail Khan, and a bunch of kids, apparently their own, all clad in a Mumbai Indians tee. Just stopped myself from saying ‘ Oye Makkhi! aloud, while my female companion went all gaga over how swanky and cool the Khan brothers looked! We all missed Munni, but obviously, her wide spread Badnaami, wouldn’t allow her to walk in a restaurant so casually, even if its Oberoi. Our dinner got extended by half an hour, and a few hundred bucks, thanks to the stars, and we left all more than just satisfied with the autographs and some exquisite chocolates!

Walked out to what else but The Marine Drive! Arguably one of the most romantic places of the country, at least as our movies would make one believe. And without any pretence, the first thing which draws attention here is the couples involved in some pretty intense PDA, which could either result in your being visibly uncomfortable, or a little too comfortable, depending on present company. Once you move your eyes beyond that, God! Its beautiful!  Its one of those beauties which are man made. Not the sea, but the main beauty is due to the lights, forming an intense, suggestive, and poetic skyline of the metropolis against the sea. Combine that with the cool breeze with splashes of cool water, the melody of waves striking against the stones, the high rising sky scrapers shining in the skies and you have a perfect scene worth remembering for life! Its about 3 kms long, and also known as Queen’s necklace, owing to its shape. The walk is quite wide, and even at times such as 2330 hours, you find kids skating, families chatting and couples snuggling. The now historic venue of our World cup victory- Wankhede stadium, just lies behind the buildings along the road, and the flood lights can be seen, so can be some pillars and supports. Walking past the Tarapore wala aquarium, road to Churchgate station, the Marine lines station, the Charney Road station, you arrive at a beach, and at midnight, it is actually so buzzing with activity, as if it was 6 in the evening.  Children enjoying rides, Bhel puri, Sev puri, Vada pav, Ragda patties, Pani puri, Kala Khatta, there isn’t a thing which you won’t get here, And after initial few moments of apprehension, you end up sitting on the dirty carpets on the ground, like everyone else. After all, where else in the country, would you get to enjoy a pav bhaji on the sea side at 12 in the night, and with hundreds of people!

We rush towards station, and though had the Ek Chalees ki last local phrase in my mind, but the gaurds were shouting, at 1, last local to Borivali, Chad jao sare! And also, after 10 pm, all the locals become slow, I am informed. The engines rumble, the tracks warm up, and the cool night breeze flows in. The crowd, most of them sporting the Mumbai Indians tee, coming from a victorious game, is all cheery! The train tears through the silence of the night…..

And my eyes open, to an evening sun, at my station Karjat, having slept through the journey back to my place, after buying a new phone and sim, and one of the rare times when you get a seat comfortable enough to fall asleep and dream about that beautiful weekend in the Maximum City. By the way, was I by any chance feeling negatively for it? Oh Come on, it was just a phone, and waise bhi some very wise person had once said ,

Bade Bade Shehron me aisi Choti moti Baatein to hoti rehti hain ! ♥ ♥ ♥

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