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Sunday, April 3, 2011


Mumbai Fables

Life can take you anywhere, and most times it tends to change course, when it is least expected. And past one month have had similar kind of experience, changing base to Mumbai. However, once something changes in your life, you should be ready to see some beliefs turn into myths, and get dispelled. 

Bombay is the financial capital of India, everyone here talks about money, get into a local and you will find people discussing monetary transactions. And thats a fact, people here would know everything about money. However; on first day, I missed 2 locals trains, for the shear number of people getting in and out of them in mere seconds overwhelmed me, at peak hours. So I chose to take taxi.

I get into a Sardarji's taxi, after all they are said to be most honest, he takes me to my destination ( Dadar to Worli ) and charges INR 130, I complete my work, take another taxi to get back to Dadar and this time it is not a Sardarji, and he charges me INR 90, same route. Next day I drop the idea of using local train and end up on taxi again. This time it is another Sardarji, much older one though, we use same route and he charges INR 60. I cant make this stuff up! I was totally taken, for a ride, that is.

From next day I was able to catch those locals trains, without fail.

Next day I went sight seeing, BSE, Fort, RBI buildings, Fountain and all. After all I am a Finance guy, and then I visit a friend in Andheri, take an auto to his place, on way to airport, fare is normal, INR 10, so I take out a 10 Rupee coin and give it to him, and this is what I get a reply as:

"Sahab, ye rang berangi sikke yahan nahi chalte, ye India hai Amrica ya Europe nahi!" 

"Sir, this is India, such colorful coins are not legal tender here, this is not Europe or USA!" 

I have no other option, but to get my hundred rupee note changed! So Mumbai has not warmed up to new 10  Rupee coin as yet. And I had just admired RBI building!

I was looking for a place to live and I get many offers, some as low as 2,500 Rupees a month but what puts them under not affordable category, was the deposit they asked, anywhere between INR 1 Lakh to 3 Lakh! 

And then it was time to start working and hence a schedule began for me, I started taking same local, same times, and started seeing same people, most times. And soon realized how we Indians start trusting people, only because we see them again and again, and are so intrusive! One week and fellow commuters started asking me name, where I work, who is there in my family, and before that telling me things about themselves.

And some how, having me in there, with them made them nostalgic, like for how many years they have been commuting between these stations and how long they have known each other and how was there 1st job, 1st day. Man! I never felt so young, since being a baby! And this one is not even my 1st job! 

And then it struck me, seating at CST looking at a police Labrador retriever, keeping a silent watch, as if he is not surrounded by hordes of people; these must have been the guys who had witnessed Kasab, who must have lost someone or must have experienced, or must have seen a bomb go off on one off these local train. And still none of them, seemed to be afraid, remembering all the happy times, talking about 20-25 years since they have been catching the same local, not a mention of any sad history, just happy moments. So there really is a Spirit of Mumbai!

I had no idea Mumbai was so hot, literally, no I am not speaking of glamor, well I would say, I got to see more mini-skirts in Pune than in Mumbai, but amount of money I spend on buying liquids to drink-lassi, chass, cold drinks, sugar cane juice! And what not; easily amounted to 3 or 4 times the amount I spent in travelling! Humid, it was always, but hot! 

Then it happened to be the week of world cup, company allowing commentary on AIR, on floor, and we were upto minute of what was happening in the match, dint miss a ball, till we were working. also walking from station to work, I started seeing aliens, more an more of them, most Australians, speaking of being optimistic, bad case, is it not! Well, they atleast got to suck in Indian culture, local trains were a huge attraction, and so was old British buildings, and  Taxi rides! Well they were taking pictures with Taxi.


Agnivo said...

WOW!!!! So beautifully written......a page out of a city's autobiography :)

Aditya Nandode said...

Ty! :) Aagan!

Unknown said...

welcome to mumbai...the city that never says die even when someone is taking their last breath...next time buy a auto and cab meter card ...you get in small book shops or even on sreet vendors have them...and most guys have it intheir vehicle check meter and pay...Mumbai is the most honest when it comes to cabs ans autos but bad eggs will be there.
lovely descriptive post. ....train travel is a tale in itself...

Aditya Nandode said...

Thanks for the tip! I expected some tips from u all the time! But was not able to make contact! :) @Songsnwords

Unknown said...

welcome to mumbai

Aditya Nandode said...

Ty! Vikas! :)

Neha Mehta said...

hey well written and well said.. even I had same experience.. In such a humid weather, people travelling from long distance in jam pack train still when they come to office everyone is charged up with high spirits, no one complaining abt the populated train or road jams... They are busy doing there work calmly...

Aditya Nandode said...

Yes! So True Neha! I did miss that point! Some how all seem happy!

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