Friday, June 01, 2007

Scenes from a city

The thing I love about Bombay is the space I get to think. Not that I need any space to think, except mind space. But still.

What works for me is the journey from home to office and back. Sure, traffic is torture, but what’s new?

I get some two hours to myself. I get two hours with the city. From Nariman Point to Bandra – that’s about 20kms. A journey that takes half-an-hour in the morning (I reach early) and about an hour-and-a-half in the evening/night.

Always a good time to think. And man, I’ve had stuff to think about. Loads and loads and truck loads of stuff. I hope to share what it's all about sometime.

But till then, here are some of my random thoughts and observations while I’m driving on my way home.

Nariman Point: Horse rides, merry-go-rounds, little scooters, bikes and various other paraphernalia. Yes, this is Nariman Point. After 8pm on weekdays and throughout weekend evenings, this place goes mad. It’s like a fair. The first time I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. I mean, all this in the middle of Bombay’s business district? Looks straight out of Juhu Beach.

So, I’m guessing that this crowd is from Colaba, Cuffe Parade, etc. You know, South Bombay yuppies and pappas and mummys, taking bacha party out for a ride in the only place available there. There’s a nice economy running there on its own. Including food, etc. etc. All they need is a park…which I think is also coming up nearby. Maja ni life.

Marine Drive: On the radio…
in dino, dil mera, mujhse hai keh raha…
tu khaab saja, tu ji le jara…
hai tujhe bhi izaazat, karle tu bhi muhabbat
I just love that song. That’s the only thing I liked in “Life in Metro” (that and perhaps Irrfan Khan and the ethereal Kangana Ranaut). Lovely song.

If only the 3-man band “Metro” had given this bearded dude more songs, because the other two (thin dude and angry dude) were very ordinary. (also read update below)

I love this song. Turn up the volume. Turn it up before they play something else. In dino, dil mera, mujhse hai keh raha…..oh yes.

I like Fever 104FM. I switched over to them (from Radio One) quite some time back. They have these RJs in the evening who go …“Hum hein aapke Drive Time Gangsters Divya aur Rohini”. One calls herself Uptown Girl and the other is…I can’t remember..but I don’t think it was Highway Star.

Marine Drive will always remind me of Sailu. Wonder where he is.

Chowpatty: This guy at office had once asked me why’s there a crowd outside Cream Centre every evening. I told him it’s because they sell leftovers at an 80% discount. So that big crowd you see, they're all waiting to get in.

And the crowd goes mad on the weekends. Those Cream Centre guys literally throw out food in the air, like people feed pigeons at Marine Drive. And all those well-dressed people, waiting outside for (almost) free food..they go at it like mad. You know, this is Bombay. He believed me. But then he’s not from Bombay.

Babulnath: Is Banganga somewhere near by? I just have to go there. (And also to these places that that indefatigable true blue Bombay Boy – Abodh – recommends.)

Vama Flyover: There’s this "HELP" sign at some Kemps Corner building that you can spot while passing over this flyover. Big bold letters in black. Someone once told me that people got spooked by this. You know, are there kidnapped kids trapped inside, crying out for HELP? But that’s not the case. It’s, in fact, a health library (not sure if its this). I tell you, this city…

Mahalakshmi junction: Street kid selling assorted books knocks on my window. I wave him off. "Nahi chahiye boss". He goes “Worli Naka, sir, Worli Naka?”. He wants a lift. Hop in kid, aaja meri gaadi mein baith ja. He tells me of a time when a driver in a Merc gave him a lift over the same distance. I tell you, this city…

Scene below Vama flyover: Yuppie in his Honda City parked below a 'No-parking sign' blissfully chatting away on his cell, in his car. Oh, he’s not breaking the law. Law says you can’t talk while driving. Law doesn’t say you can’t talk while you’re parked under a 'No-parking sign'. So it’s cool, dude, chat away. So what if the rest of the city’s honking behind you?

Oh, and those blinking indicator lights on your car? You know, those that go off together when you press that red triangle on your dash? See, those lights don't mean “Do not disturb, I'm on a call”. They mean "Help, help, I need help". Please remember that. Who knows..the next time I see you yakking on your cell in your car with those lights on, I might be tempted to break your window and rescue you.

Haji Ali Juice Centre: This place..with all the cabs parked outside, some with those green tube lights inside...reminds me of a superb scene in Maximum City – the one where a goon takes out a dance bar girl and they meet here. He tells the cab driver to take a walk, releases love-birds in the cab, and both of them try to catch these birds…which is how he gets to touch her for the first time. If I remember right, the book said that most of these birds also die in the car.

Worli Sea Face: Have they really sold that dairy there? Will a five star hotel really come up in its place?

Shivaji Park: Man…when will they finish making whatever they’re making out there? I mean, its dug up for ages. Come on.

Mahim: Parking lot. Bottleneck. Shut down the engine, chill out. Pull those windows down. Catch a glimpse of the dargah to your left. It comes after a small temple you just passed by on your right. Mandir, masjid, one road. I think a sequence in "Maqbool" was shot at this dargah.

To your left, chances are you won’t miss those small hotels. With hordes of people bunched up, sitting on their haunches…waiting. Some have empty looks on their faces, some are hopeful. All of them wait for a car that stops and hands out a Rs50/100/500/1,000 note to the hotel. Depending on what the seth (or his driver) of the car gives, that’s their dinner. At least for the lucky ones who get waved inside. Till a hand suddenly stops those left behind, from going ahead. Because, Rs100 only covers 10 people. The others will have to wait. For the next car to stop. For some guy who’d asked mannat at the dargah, or at Mahim Church…or in his heart…and is now fulfilling it by feeding the hungry. Some of those passing by in their cars look at this wretched lot and curse under their breath “saale…muft ka khaate hain”.

Bandra: Home. Finally.

Another day in paradise. Another day in the city.

This city, I tell you...

*****

Update: Via e-mail from Amit Varma: "In Dino...was only picturised on Preetam in the film (the bearded guy). It was actually sung by Soham, who didn't appear in the film at all, but did in the promotional video." Thanks very much for that Amit.

43 comments:

Kusum said...

I might be tempted to break your window and rescue you.

I say "Go for it Bandra boy!" and I recommend you get a special superhero outfit for this task, you know the ones which have bright coloured tight chaadis. Add a few peacock feathers too. Please?

Abhi said...

which bus, No 84?

Bombay Addict said...

Kusum - thanks...you do so NOT want to see me in that, feathers or not!

Abhi - Thanks but I'm sorry..which bus?!

Jason said...

Nice post, dude :)

I have been to Mumbai 7 times and stayed at 7 different places but never long enough to catch up with that something that is beyond what meets the eye :-(

Abhi said...

sorry, for some reason, I thought you travelled by bus.

Anyway, 84 no bus goes from Andheri to Churchgate, taking in all the sights and sounds you mention.

Anonymous said...

get over it loser, its not that great a city

Anonymous said...

yoy mumbai retards seem to have some kind of strange notion of Mumbai as this great place, its actually an over crowded, slum filled dump. Get out while you can :-)

Bombay Addict said...

Jason - Thanks a ton! 8th time lucky perhaps?! Haaa..

Abhi - Thanks..84 does have a nice route, starts from Mantralaya and ends at Andheri, goes through most of the places I've mentioned, you're right. In fact, I remember 4Ltd too had a long route, but on the central side.

Both Anons - LOL! Hey thanks ! both of you are my first official flamers!! Yay!! Ever been to Bombay? Would love to take you around !

vishwa said...

Hi, I lived in bombay for 5 months, way back(10 years ago). Maybe I'd have written a similar post if I were still there. I still can't forget the taste of vada pav or the 'cutting' glass of apple juice outside Churchgate. And the rush hour crowds that push you in and out of the local trains at every station--you need to experience it first hand.

Well written:-)

Bombay Addict said...

Vishwa - Thanks a lot for the visit and the comment!

anonymouse said...

Why drive, when you can take a bus (or go by train)? It sure is a lot more friendly to the city to use the public transport system.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Bought back all the memories of home. Missing the smell and taste of the city. Hope to be back soon.

Yeda

Bombay Addict said...

Anonymouse - oof! I wish I had an answer to that! Thanks for the comment.

Yeda - can't wait to have you back! jaldi kar!

The Great Ganesha said...

arrey, yaar. to a fellow diehard bombayite, this post is like a poem! wonderful! i can almost breathe that bombay air from reading it.

i wish i was there...

gg

Bombay Addict said...

TGG - arre yaar, kya baat kar raha hai! great to have someone like you here! Thanks for the comment!

Purush said...

I have to disagree. A commute by road in B'bay, that too from downtown to the suburbs, is probably not the best way to appreciate the city. Pollution, roads dug up, traffic indiscipline...just recently, as you know, my Dad was in an autorickshaw accident and injured his shoulder. In any other city, these autos, or deathtraps, would be banned before you can say "mumbai cockroach".

Bombay Addict said...

Purush - Thanks for the comment and I appreciate your feelings. It must've been really, really frustrating when your Dad had that unfortunate accident.

I'm sure you'd also agree that far worse happens on the roads, rail tracks, etc, on a daily basis, even if you don't say "Mumbai cockroach".

However, I'm not sure what you disagree with.

I mean I don't know where I gave the idea that my commute gives me the chance to "appreciate" the city.

Just like I don't know how the kind Anons above (who've called me retard, loser, etc) got the impression I'm praising the city or calling it great or whatever.

I think I should do a disclaimer post sometime soon!

Anil P said...

Nice. The next time maybe you could take a detour and write about another route.

Bombay Addict said...

Anil - Thanks..I just had to write this post after your comment here! In fact, this is the route I use the most for obvious reasons...I was actually thinking of writing a post on my journey to office!

Sigma said...

Very wonderful post .. nice to read your perspective about all these places. I've been to Bombay 2-3 times, and seen few of these places, but never stayed long enough to get think of the "character" of these places.
And it is so very true that the journey provides you a space to think - otherwise the mind is always so cluttered with "things to do" that you seem to get no time for introspection.

Bombay Addict said...

Sigma - Thanks a lot for the comment. Glad you could appreciate that the journey can provide space to think..

Smith said...

nice post. but...hazard lights dont mean come and help me...they mean 'watch out for me, i'm a hazard'....which in the case of the man in the Honda City...would fit perfectly...and i miss bombay

Bombay Addict said...

Smith - LOL! nice one..thanks for the visit and comment.

nikhil said...

yeah man ... i ve beenliving in delhi for more than a month now ... and really missing mumbai like a kid longing for a new toy ... and this post is like a wonderful breeze that makes me want to pack my bag and vroom back home!! great post .... i really like the stretch between haji ali and century mills really great buidlings, and some really good ones coming up too!!

Bombay Addict said...

Nikhil - Thanks man...Delhi's a great city too!

Smith said...

@bombay addict - no it isn't! it's a crap city

An Iengar Chick .... said...

Love that song myself..and truly In dino my heart speaks volumes...mebbe its the weather in bombay. YES!!! I am home and lovin' ever momnet of it. The rain, the silly gutturgooing kabootars. The stray mutts and most of all the monsoon altho not much of it since I landed a couple of dayz ago.

A very nostalgic post and puhleezz no bright colored tights puhleez !! the feathres now that i very much don't mind at all !! ;-)

The Last Sign said...

In my city all you would see from pillar to post are pedestrians who wasnt to make your travel a misery.. so i say.. drive on the sidewalk

Bombay Addict said...

Smith - no what isn't dude?

Red - Hey..good to have you in the city, till how long you here? Have a great stay! thanks for the support against the tights! haaa....

TLS - thanks for the comment..which city are you referring to?!

Diviya said...

How many people travel on this route? And how many think of the city instead of what the boss said or what the spouse will say? 2 hours well spent, I must say.

Bombay Addict said...

Diviya - thanks for the comment and thats a nice way of looking at it!

An Iengar Chick .... said...

Will be here for some time. Am set on d travelling mode. Relatives frens the whole lot all around.

Have quite a fiesty, colorful itenary

:( Get well soon from the bukhaars n all. Hope u fel better

Red

Bombay Addict said...

Red - May your trip be as colorful as possible! thanks...am feeling better now..

Jaded said...

hey bombay addict...
got to your page from the compulsive confessor...and wat attracted me was bombay!
i am delhite,never lived newhere else...i alwyas wanted to go to mumbai..got a chance a year back...and i was in the city for jst lil over two days...
but my experience was so moving...i earlier cudn't understand how one can get addicted to mumbai...but in those few hours i did!

i can write a long post abt it here(actually my memory is still so afresh..i think i will soon!)...but the point is...i really enjoyed reading this particular post...captured the essence of the mumbai that i saw...i still have to experience living in mumbai...i hope to do that soon...coz i'm absolutely smitten!

would keep coming back to read more abt life in the metro! :)

Anonymous said...

Hello there..I was wondering why I didnt come across your blog earlier. Its been about 9 months since I have been away from Bombay and I realised its magic only after I went away from it. Your posts are amazingly 'Bombayish'. Love 'em totally. :-) ~Sandeep

Mishti said...

Superb post...visiting after a long time. Today on a darned Saturday as I sit in my office, I can listen to the howling wind and hear the raindrops splashing on the glass panes. The sight of looking across at the sea - hardly visible now in the darkness that has enveloped this city earlier than usual...Oh, yes, I luv this city. Although how I will even get out of the office I don't know. And you know which song I am reminded of - rim jhim gire sawan, sulag sulag jaaye man.

Bombay Addict said...

Jaded - thanks for the visit and comment, I will wait for your post..always good to read posts about this mad city!

Sandeep - Nice to have you visit and thanks for that kind comment!

Mishti - Thanks for the visit and comment. Look forward to your posts, sir.

Post Colonial Child said...

Babulnath, is Banganga nearby? as you hit the end of marine drive on your way back from town, take the left up to Walkeshwar (instead of the right past B'bul nath to Peddar Rd.), head up the slope, past the Governors Bungalow (The only reason I would ever want to go into Political Life is to end up the Governor of Maharashtra and that too only so that I can live there...) straigh past Teen Batti, (look above the three way traffic lights, and you'll see why it was originally called that). Park somewhere down at the bottom of the slope when the road gets all narrow and you look like you're heading into village land.. ask anyone, they'll point you to this most amazing place. I still can't believe such a place exists in the middle of Mumbai.

Bombay Addict said...

Post Colonial Child - A very big thanks for those detailed directions..I now have a very clear idea of the spot and will head out there soon! Thanks for the comment.

Ronak said...

I am an eternal lover of Mumbai (Bombay Rules Bombay Rocks). I take a cab almost everyday just to go through the route you mention cause i am so in love with it. And i insist that the cabbie gets the route as against JJ Flyover. Brilliant i have also given a lift to one of the book seller guys...This city I tell you :)

Bombay Addict said...

Ronak - Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I like your post a lot and appreciate that staying in Mumbai you still notice these small things.

I just came to Canada as a student 8 months back and I miss mumbai sooo much! You know, here in Canada everyone has their own space. Being a girl, I have always hated people dashing on purpose.

But here there is absolutely no contact, with people just so artificial, sitting in a local train I could feel the emotions of the person sitting next to me...and here I feel like dashing into someone on purpose to feel that human contact!!

Bombay Addict said...

Anon - I can relate with that and I know what you're talking about. Thanks for the comment!