I met Mumbai in September last year for a very brief time. About a week. I admired her from the very moment I saw her. It was 6:15 am when my eyes were still drowsy. But there she was - bubbly, zesty, vivacious...so full of life. It would be an interesting tryst, I was sure right then. I couldn't have been wrong. I am yet to meet to someone who'd have disliked her after being with her for sometime.
I decided there itself that I'll call her 'she'. She has to be a woman to be so nurturing and giving. Plus she is so beautiful and charming. But 'vulnerable'? That is not a trait I associated with her then. I still don't. Perhaps they did. Surprised how her charisma did not lure them.
I had work in the building exactly opposite the VT station. And wasn't I as fascinated to see VT as Bollywood shows people, with big dreams who come to Mumbai, are? More than fascinated, I'd say. Several movies would be made now, featuring the station albeit in a different light.
The memory of a couple of hours I spent in Leopold Cafe is quite crisp in my heart. It was my friend, a former Mumbaiker's suggestion to go there. "Your trip would not be complete unless you go there. You have to see it to believe it," were somewhat her words. And I couldn't thank her enough. Though I do not generally like noisy places, this space was different. "The music here is very loud usually," shouted my friend. I could barely hear her. I get shivers thinking that a year later, one night the silence would more deafening than the music they usually play.
Gateway of India is a few steps away. It was about 11 pm and we walked. I can still feel the mischief in air saying that it was about to bring some shower. The monument, I must say, looked very graceful that rainy night. And then I saw another iconic building - The Taj Mahal Hotel. As I write, I can just think of a white building with red top and rising black smoke...
So I just close my eyes and think about the beauty I have great admiration for. And I see... the promenade beside the majestic Queen's Necklace (or Marine Drive), my guest house at NepeanSea Road, Bhel Puri at Chowpatty, talkative waves at Worli, rocks at Bandra beach, cheerful people enjoying Jumbo King vada pav, bargaining for a trendy t-shirt at Fashion Street...I see a modest Haji Ali standing beautifully in Worli waters, some immodest people pushing you in Zaveri Bazaar and a crowd dancing away to glory in lighted streets (celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi)...Her beauty is apparent in everything she is made of.
I wonder if little Moshe Holtzberg would ever think of her like that.