Hi! I’m Rishi Vohra, author of the debut mass fiction novel ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai’ releasing in bookstores soon! Let me start by saying that I’m a huge fan of MissMalini and have been following her blog for all happenings in the glamour world! So I was really thrilled when she invited me to write on her blog and share what I find unique about one of the central characters of my book – Mumbai.
I loved writing, but never thought of being a writer. It just happened. In my case, John Lennon‘s golden words ring true – ‘Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.’ I started writing as a guest columnist for newspapers in India. My passion for wine saw me writing articles for delWine – India’s first and premium online wine newsletter. But the novel happened much later. I submitted the novel to many agents and publishers in the U.S. and Europe. I was told that the book wasn’t written with Western sensibilities and that I should look at getting it published in India. Several publishing companies here stepped forward, and at the end of 2011, I chose to place ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai’ with Jaico Books.
‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai’ is a story about love, heartbreak, courage, and hope, set in the magnificently complex city of Mumbai that has as many hues and moods as the colorful characters that headline in the book. I’ve grown up in Mumbai, and love so much about this city. Mumbai has some unique aspects to it, which make it one of the most fascinating places to be in. Through my experiences shaped over the years, here’s what I really love about this city:
1. The autowallahs
When you hire an auto rickshaw in Mumbai, the driver takes you on not only as a passenger, but also as their life’s mission to get you to your destination. So you may be in for a wild ride which involves dangerous lane cutting, almost snipping vehicles, sporadic speeding, and of course, a witness to abuses hurled into and out of the rickshaw. You should never take it personally because that’s just the way they roll! Of course, there are a few ‘exception’al drivers, who take you on a merry-go-round to ensure increased fares!
A damsel in distress? And the closest Mumbaikar dons his invisible cape and arrives to the rescue. Men in this city are very respectful towards women… including yours truly.
3. Irani Cafes
These places have always been about high quality food at low prices, in a laidback ambience. They are fast depleting, but have carved their niche in the history of Mumbai.
4. The Seaface
Carter Road, Bandstand, Marine Drive – just to name a few. A wide expanse of the murky Arabian Sea gives every Mumbaikar a sense of freedom and relief, from the clutter that is soon defining Mumbai.
5. Cutting Chai
This Mumbai specialty cannot be defined in words. Served hot off a gas stove, the flavours of the city street’s version of tea are so strong yet exhilarating that it has to be served in a cutting (a little more than half a cup).
6. The Bandra-Worli Sealink
Driving on this bridge over the sea from Bandra to Worli, is a very calming experience. For one, you get to feel the soothing sensation of fresh sea breeze through your hair (excluding yours truly since the state of affairs up there isn’t very promising). And secondly, it gives you an opportunity to view the magnificence of this city from a distance.
7. Chor Baazaar
One of the largest flea markets in India, this ‘thieves’ bazaar is located in one of the conspicuous sections of South Mumbai. Did you know that it was originally called Shor Bazaar (because of the noise) but became Chor because of the Britishers’ (mis)pronunciation of the word during the period of British India? By the way, does buying stolen goods add to one’s karma?
8. The Mix
Every third person I have met in this city has come from some other part of the country in search of better opportunities. The city inspires everyone who comes here, and that’s why they rarely go back. It welcomes you, gives you an identity, a profession, and a sense of achievement and belonging.
9. The Mumbai Spirit
This city welcomes everyone with open arms and gives them a sense of home away from home. I grew up here, so my connect with this city is like any person’s bond with the place that nurtured them. It deeply saddens me to see the city becoming an increasingly unlivable place owing to the deteriorating infrastructure, increasing prices, and rising pollution levels. But despite all these threats to the city’s quality of life, it’s comforting to see the Mumbai spirit still intact!
For me, this is a one-stop shop for all that’s exciting in the glamour world! On MissMalini.com, there’s never a dull moment. A big thank you to Malini for inviting me to be a part of all the excitement!
I can pinpoint many more wonderful things about the city, but these were my top ten! If you have ever been to Mumbai, I’m sure you would agree with me on some of the points mentioned on my list. And if you are yet to visit our splendid city, I hope that the above list somewhat entices you to make a trip!
If you’re interested in hearing more about this city or ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai,’ please visit my website www.rishivohra.com, and feel free to visit and follow my my Blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube Channel! Look forward to seeing you!