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I still believe in Mumbai!!!

November 11, 2008

I am a migrant to this big city and have been here for three years and even now, the tenacity of this great city amazes me.
I got my job through campus placement in my fourth year of engineering and it was of great interest to me to come and live here in North India (north for me!!) atleast for some time as I wanted to imbibe and experience the culture here in Mumbai. After all, wasn’t Mumbai the place with all the films stars and rich ambani’s?
I still vividly remember the first time I set foot in Thane station (many old timers will not consider Thane to be a part of Mumbai…).
After an arduous 2 day journey from Cochin, I finally reached Thane with my friend Mr. VR at 4:30 AM in the morning with nothing but my clothes, some money and a flimsy piece of paper which had the address of my future stay.
The minute I set foot on the platform, I was amazed. The whole station was alive and teeming with people running after their locals and I just could not believe it nor could my friend. People were going about their business and there were a lot of tea stalls which were serving Hot Tea (my favorite).
At that point, my knowledge of Hindi was limited to “Mein hindi nahi janta”. Then a very decent auto driver took us to out guest house without hustling us (which was a very decent thing to do).
Now, back to the present, three years have passed and I have learnt a lot of things about Mumbai. Life is all about experiences and these are my experiences.
These experiences (stories) have made me believe that there is still hope left for Mumbai.
First Local train experience:
The very first day I came to Mumbai, I was supposed to meet my uncle in Chembur. When my uncle offered to pick me up from Thane, I refused. As we say in Tamil, I was an “Annavathile aadara ammballe” (full of manly pride). So without any knowledge of Mumbai or the train routes and with my remotely inadequate Hindi, I set forth.
I first took a bus from Thane to Borivilli thru Ghodbunder Road (don’t ask me why) and from Borivilli, took a local to Dadar and from Dadar, took a bus to Kurla and finally from Kurla took another bus to Chembur and finally from Chembur walked to my uncle’s house.
The whole journey lasted four and a half hours, but that was not important. What was important to me at that instance was that people were always ready to help. No one said no. Even though I did not know the language, they all helped me in reaching my destination.
I am happy for that experience coz I got to learn a lot about Mumbai that very day. I learnt that Mumbai was not about the rich people or the celebrities but the real Mumbai was full of people who believed in honest hard work to achieve something.
Bike Incident:
It was 11 in the night and I was traveling from office in Andheri (E) to Thane through the eastern express highway and thanks to my friend Mr. AR, we ran out of petrol. I had had a long day at work and was pissed off at that moment. So we started pushing the bike to the nearest petrol pump in Mulund. After some time into the trek and after my friend had a decent dose of err… medicine, some stranger stopped his bike and asked us as to what the problem was. When we explained our predicament, he offered to push us with his bike all the way to Mulund and he did, till the petrol pump. At that moment, all the negativity and bad thoughts just disappeared. That guy had absolutely no reason to stop and help us. It was also getting late for him but he just was a Good Samaritan.
Koparkiarane Incident:
It was 11 in the night and I had to cross the underpass from Koparkiarane west to the east side. It was pitch dark and the whole underpass was flooded with water. I did not know what to do when a car stopped and the driver asked me to get in. I did not even ask him for a lift, but he just helped me.
The Riot Incident:
Last month, thanks to Raj, none of the shops or restaurants in my area where open. At lunch time, my neighbor (whom I knew little off) asked me to have lunch in his house as he knew that we were bachelors.
The Auto Drivers:
I have been to quite a few places in India and I never seen more decent auto drivers. The charge is as per the meter and if they do not have change, so often they make do with an amount which is less that the fare. On most occasions, they do not try to hustle you as long as they feel that you are from Mumbai.
There have been many more such small incidents which have made me believe in the beauty of Mumbai.
Let the politicians fight it out for money and power, but I believe that the real Mumbai will always stand up when needed.
The inspiration to write this post is from my friend Mr. AC. He was here in Mumbai (his first time) last week and when his week long visit got over, I asked him as to which was his favorite moment here in Mumbai and his reply actually the least expected one. He said that his favorite moment was when we had had to board a fast local from Thane to CST. He said that the energy at that time was his best experience!!!

Cheers to Mumbai….. May you enthrall everyone and anyone who comes here, in pursuit of a dream………

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