Mumbai ala re

I am a huge fan of Mumbai. I have probably been to the city only a couple of times but each time it has managed to bowl me over. Whatta city! Now I understand why people feel so passionately about it. Though my initial reaction was not great: the grime, dust and plain rubbish lying on the streets is a real put off! I saw a sea of blue plastic cover from the flight and was wondering what they were! Later I found out that that was Dharavi, the world’s largest slum.

But there is the whole other side, the really bindaas people who dress really well. My cousin who was showing me around the city had put it very well: he said, “You can’t make out who lives in a chawl and who lives in a penthouse.” I suppose that could be because of the concentration of textile mills all over the city. It is afterall an industrial city.

The roads at least where I was staying Dadar were very wide with enough space for the pedestrians. Coming from footpath-starved Chennai, this was such a relief. The roads were made of concrete because it rains 4 months of the year and tar roads won’t be able to take it. I saw morning walkers in and around the Shivaji Park area. The first thought that hit me was that the Municipal Corporation really cares about its citizens. By contrast, in Chennai one gets the feeling that the Corporation is like this bulldozer that theatens to roll over all citizens!

In the evening of my first visit, my cousin showed me around town. According to him, I had seen only about 30% of the city! I saw the usual landmarks of Mumbai: the Taj Mahal hotel, Victoria Terminus now called Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Gateway of India, Colaba Causeway, Haji Ali mosque (from afar), the Siddivinayak Temple, and Worli seaface. We then headed for a mall which housed just about anything: from clothes stores which turn into nightclubs at night (the Provogue Lounge) to Dollar stores and restaurants. It was called the Phoenix Mills and the entrance to it was via a basti. Well, it looks like a basti to me. I was wondering where he was going till we came upon this huge gliterring plaza! The Sports Bar was a place that was decently crowded on a Thursday night.

Dinner was at this place called Baghdadi. The food was excellent and cheap! While driving down Marine Drive, I could see groups of people just dancing to some tune in their heads! There was no music nearby other than the music of the waves breaking on the shore. The waves were very high and it was the start of the monsoon season. A slight drizzle turned into a downpour and changed back into a drizzle in no time. I wanted to have vada pav but couldn’t because by then people has packed up and there was no place to park. It seems it takes 3 hours to cover the entire Marine Drive streach by foot. I will do that one day!

The old Colonial-style buildings with its curlicued facade made a huge impression on me. I loved old buildings: there is so much history trapped in them! Gape was all I could do. It was sheer beauty in stone! The Mumbai Municipal Corporation have a rule where people who live in these old Colonial mansions cannot change the exterior of their homes. They can modernize the interior and add all sorts of latest gadgets but they cannot touch the exterior. This rule preserves the “look” of Mumbai. Unlike here, old buildings can be demolished and made into concrete monstrosities!

Blame my “I love Mumbai” outburst on this cool blog I found about Mumbai. It’s regular Mumbaikars who talk about their city. So, check it out!


15 thoughts on “Mumbai ala re

  1. It surely is a brilliant city to work in! The work culture is totally professional, no one wastes time, people are always in a hurry! If you really want to have a look at Mumbai again, pls watch Bluffmaster, it’s been shot completely in Mumbai, and you might see a lot of familiar places in the movie, I sure did!

  2. ah mumbai! i have a love hate relationship with the city. i love the city but hate to live there. the ideal would be to live in either IIT , TIFR or such a campus so that whenever you feel you can run to the city and when you’re tired you can run away from it. no wonder the two years in iit are the best years of my life…

    and my wife is a true mumbaikar (unlike me, who’s just a born mumbaikar). you just got yourself promoted in her people ranking ;-).


  3. Hmm,be it Chennai or Mumbai, every city has a charm of its own. The city just grows on you and we live around them. I prefer not to draw sharp contrasts, except that I would point out what will work for me as a Chennaite or what will not if I were to hop to Mumbai.

  4. You know what? My heart skipped a beat when I saw the title of your post “Mumbai ala re”. For a moment I thought you had spilt the beans on our Mumbai adventure! *phew*
    Good post re 🙂

  5. Welcome to Bombay. Had to let go of 3 trains today morning and finally got into the 2nd class compartment. Realised I hadn’t lost touch. And that as much as there is to hate about the city, I cant help but love it.

    Was walking with a customer (whitey as he refers to himself sometimes) today near Currey Road. The place made me feel alive.

    That’s Bombay – The travel might suck, but the city has the best work ethic. IF you want to get things really DONE, this is where you do business from. If only we had good infrastructure, we’d rule the world. But then, can’t have everything

  6. Here in Delhi the unending debate on Delhi vs. Bombay rages (I prefer Bombay over Mumbai). I always find myself on the Bombay side. And rightfully so, the infrastructure might not be great but the people are and that is what counts the most.

  7. and yeah, a pedantic comment: it’s not “mumbai ala re”, but rather “mumbai aali re”. mumbai, in marathi, is feminine. don’t ask me why (so is delhi… however ridiculous that may sound).

    actually i know why, mumbai is named after mumba devi, a feminine deity… well that’s a guess anyways.. and then in sanskritized languages, all words ending in i (or ee) are of feminine gender…


  8. okay sorry for spamming but couldn’t hold back!

    chennai had a sex-change operation as far as marathi (or sanskrit) goes ;-), from gender neutral to feminine…


  9. A juvenille me would leave no stone unturned to prove that Bombay it was.Only to realise as an adult that I sound like the frog,who never left his well.I have come to appreciate others while my love for my city only grows.From this hard core Bombayite..thank you..reading your post.took me home..and I feel the warmth even in this cold chilly room.

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