I am a small-town girl living here for a very long time now. As a kid, I would often visit you and be mesmerized by your old world charm and very Brit architecture, fascinated by all the hustle-bustle around and spellbound by your sheer existence. I always wanted to experience the life you offered to the millions who decided to shift here considering the fact that you are unequivocally the City of Dreams. And as life would have it, I did get that opportunity. I lived here, studied here, and continue to be here because there’s apparently no other place I would rather be. I love you!
There’s so much I have experienced here and there’s so much you’ve taught me. You’ve made me just be comfortable with the large crowds. With the umpteen local-rides I have taken in my life —I have come to realise that my idea of personal space now is just someone not stepping on my toes and I am okay with that. You’ve made me value punctuality because I now know how different my day can be if I miss my local by even a whisker.
You’ve made me fall in love with rains. You’ve made me romanticise it and made me wait for every monsoon season (barring the few times I struggle to reach places in the torrential rains). You’ve made me believe that I can fill my stomach in just about 10 rupees and utterly relish it at the same time—there’s nothing that makes for a meal like a Vada Pav and Cutting Chai!
You have given me the confidence to live my life on my own terms and not care about anyone interfering or judging me for the same—you live and let live. Everyone here is so busy in their own lives, doing their ‘thing’. You’ve made me ‘fast-paced’ and ‘hardcore’ and I know for a fact that you’ve taught me enough to never be left behind. You’ve given me the safety and security to freely move around at any hour of the day or night—something other cities from where I come from don’t offer and I am so thankful for that.
You can turn a bad day into a good one by just letting me have a quiet evening all by myself at Marine Drive—watching the sea waves hit the tetrapods—it’s magical! You somehow make everyone fall in love with you, you even make us strangely like the choking humidity and jungle-like sweat (just like Gregory David mentions in Shantaram). The smell of the different air here tells us we are ‘home’.
Mumbai—you’re truly a melting pot of cultures and have been oh-so-welcoming to everyone. There’s something for everyone here. You let people make successful careers in offbeat professions. You have made me celebrate all the festivals, be it Janmashtami, Ganpati, Eid, Christmas or otherwise, with so much pomp and show!
Though most importantly, you’ve taught me that life comes with its own set of struggles but it’s how we deal with it, live with it, fight it and come out stronger is what that matters. You’ve survived the floods, the terror attacks and so much more and you’ll survive the COVID-19 too! I only hope, pray, and wish that the people of Mumbai give you all that you need to bounce back—follow the rules and help you recover! You’re the city that never sleeps and you’ll always be one! Stay strong Mumbai, and I know we’ll bounce back just like we always do.
Your faithful island girl,
Priyam Prasad (@thatpisceangirl)