Did I tell you about my Bombay trip? Of course, I didn’t. But, I have been eagerly waiting to.
And here it is.
Bombay was my gift to myself, as I turned 24 this month. I made sure my first weekend as a 24 year old was a stellar one.
At 3:00 pm, on my birthday, I left my house with my bag pack for Bombay. The moment I stepped out and took an auto for the metro station, it began. I moved at a pace so relaxed, it almost felt like I am wearing a beach hat and commuting across Delhi, sipping on a Margarita. As I came up from the metro station towards the New Delhi railway station, I saw the sky and how it was blanketed with black clouds. The rains were here to officially kick start, what I like to call, the good life.
The New Delhi railway station was oddly empty on a Friday afternoon. I strolled across the foot over bridge, looking at a city I have called my own for years now. I was amazed at this feeling of belonging, which had come back to me after a long time. Here, I was ready to escape it and just when I was leaving, I allowed myself to see the beauty, I have known, but chosen to forget. Maybe, we do well when distant, Delhi.
I reached my platform and walked till my coach. My coach was parked under a tunnel and I could not be any more thrilled about it. I perched myself on my side lower seat. The bedding arrived and by 5:30, I was nice and cozy in my bed for the next 12 hours, ready to read and sleep.
Oh dear. I slept and slept. What did I tell you? The good life was back.
I woke up the next morning to the ghats. And then, came Borivali. The locals whizzed past. I could not stop smiling. Fuck yes. This was happening.
I got down at Bombay central. At this point, I have to reiterate and give a special mention to my pace, throughout this trip. Relaxed is a pace and I was acing it. I walked from the platform I arrived at to the platforms for the local trains. I bought my 10 rupee ticket, hopped onto a local which was pretty empty since it was a Saturday, got my window seat and sat at an angle which gave me a 180 degree view of everything around me. I was in awe of the city. I was still a newbie who wanted to see it all.
I reached my place of stay. Told my relatives all about how I was back to do some solo chilling. Then, I took a long long shower, wore my vacation shirt, packed my bag with an umbrella, shades, earphones and a book and set out for my solo day out in SoBo (South Bombay).
Took an auto to Khar. Took a moment to register how their were coins in my wallet after 2 auto rides. Bought another 10 rupee ticket and set out towards Churchgate. I got down at marine lines. I climbed the stairs and as I walked on the foot over bridge, I saw it. There it was. The sea in its full glory.
From then on, for pretty much the rest of the day, all I did was walk. I walked by the sea. I sat by the sea. I stared at buildings. I noticed the face of the person, I crossed the zebra crossing with. I clicked pictures. I wrote mushy captions. I told my favorite people about just how happy I was. It was all so good. And then it go better.
It started to rain. I took out my umbrella, like a pro, and continued to walk. I moved on instinct. Suddenly, it started to pour and I took shelter under a shade and watched the rain. Oh, what beauty. The old buildings of Kala ghoda, the streets of Bombay and rain.
As I stood there, thinking about what I should do next, a sense of familiarity dawned upon me. I was near a cafe I had been to before and was also extremely special for me. I enquired with a guy standing next to me about the cafe and he told me that it was right at the corner of the street.
While walking, I had been hoping to go to a place which serves beer and good food. It was a lazy afternoon for me and a beer just felt right. And, that is exactly what my instincts led me to. My instincts led me to a Parsi cafe which served alcohol. Damn. I won’t say my day was perfect. Rather I think perfection defined my day.
I sat at the cafe. Alone. With a beer and yum Parsi food. I plugged in my earphones and began to write. Write what? This post.
By the time I got out it was bright and sunny. As I continued walking, I came across art displayed outside an art gallery by an upcoming artist. He had used the local tickets with paint to depict different things. The artwork had my attention. For me it spoke of Bombay and distances travelled. I had a short conversation with the artist. I told him how I loved his idea of using the tickets. And, it felt good.
I spent the rest of the day walking, hopping from one place to another, drinking, eating and laughing with a friend. My day one in Bombay speller contentment for me and my 24 year self had learnt some very important things about herself by the end of the day.
I started my second day with breakfast facing the marine drive, a space which defines Bombay. Post that, I hopped on a train and headed back to SantaCruz. The rest of the day was spent with family, eating, talking and laughing. Eating to an extent where I had to pop in pills by the end of the day. Family time was also coupled with solo bookstore and walking time. I had found my balance and I had found it on my very own two feet.
My third and last day began with a realisation, that at some point in your life it is essential that we do what we do during our routine phases of life for leisure. A year back when I was in Bombay for my post graduation, I would frequently take a bus back from where my relatives lived to go back to campus. Back then waiting for the bus, riding the bus felt like such a task. However, this time around I decided to do it for fun, to reminisce the old times and I cannot begin to explain how calming my relaxed demeanor was. I stood at the bus stop for an hour, staring at trees and buildings, smiling. Even after an hour when the bus didn’t show, I simply took an auto without any feeling of irritation.
College is special for me. And, visiting it this time was equally special. However, I realised that it was not my highlight for this trip. Why? Because this trip was not about nostalgia for me. It was about defining a lot of things for myself. It was about new experiences. It was about asserting that there are somethings which will always take precedence for me. And that no one can take that away from me.
After a few hours on campus, I took a cab to SoBo and spent the next three to four hours at a beautiful cafe, facing the sea, reading my book, alone in peace.
My last few hours in Bombay were defined by people. People who are very dear to me. While with one it was about realising how important it is to keep going in our lives by striving towards newness, with another it was about simplifying our lives and being true towards how we feel.
I began writing about this trip at the cafe. But couldn’t finish it. I tried to complete it again at home, but couldn’t finish it. Today, as I finish writing this post, I realise it has taken me more than a month to do this. But I also realise just how fresh that trip is in my mind. And how it has defined my life ever since I have come back.
Bombay, 2017, will always be a cherished memory for me. It has brought back and lead me to a lot of things in life for which I will eternally be grateful. Thank you, Bombay. For me, you are not an escape. You are an assertion. An assertion which was much needed for me as I completed yet another year of my life.