Today started out like any normal day… Woke up late, got superbly late for work and as usual, reached office about half an hour late! I switch on my PC and start surfing away to pass the newly-discovered “free time” I have! To my pleasant surprise, I found this gorgeous picture of this beautiful, clean city with lovely deep green-blue waters bordering it. This, I am proud to say, is the land of my birth – Abu Dhabi – One of the top 10 cities in the world to visit! Oooh I can’t describe the excitement that was running through my veins! I took a trip down memory lane and thought of all the good times! And then it struck me! Inspite of all these nostalgic feelings and all the good memories, there wasn’t one feeling strong enough to make me want to definitely, undoubtedly go back!
I’ve been playing with the option of leaving good old Bombay and going back to my favorite green city (AUH) for quite a while now and haven’t really been able to come to a decision which I can live 100% happily with! There’s always that nagging “What if?” thought at the back of my head… “What if I get that high-paying job in Bombay itself?”, “What if my old friends are no longer in Auh or things are not the same there?”, “What if I go there and realize there’s nothing like my Bombay?” (Something which I’m already thinking to be a fact… Just need it confirmed by going and living there!) What is it about this city (Bombay) that once it attracts you, it never lets you go? Bombay is like a “bad-boy” boyfriend who you know is not going to change his flirtatious ways but you want to be with anyway because of his sweet, loving nature.
I was born in Corniche hospital in Abu Dhabi (now known as ‘Spooks’) and have spent the major portion of my life there. I have enjoyed life to the fullest – movies, outings, trips to the Corniche, May Queen and Christmas Bazaar (Those of you from Auh will know what that’s like ;)) – I did, indeed, lead the good life. Of course was too young for clubs then, so the nightlife is something which I did not experience. We still had fun night-outs, like family parties on Thursday night which went on till 4a.m., roaming in the malls till 2a.m. during Ramadan…..
While I was happily trotting through my childhood and early teenage years in this pollution-free city, my dad, mom and I would come down to Bombay every year and get the feel of what a completely “opposite” city was like. Bombay was dirty, crowded and polluted and just kept getting more and more so each year. As a kid, walking on the road with my mom was quite an experience! My mom keeps telling me how I used to complain, “Mama, the road is dirty… the cows are walking with me…” I know this sounds whiny but for a small girl who’s not used to even seeing a dog on the road, a cow is a rather BIG surprise!
After a few years, say by my early teens, my mom started taking me to even more places and I got to see a little different Bombay. From complaining, I went to excited exclaiming, “Mama, mama… Look, there are horses going and we can go in the carriage too!” For anyone who has been to South Bombay, mainly Gateway of India, knows that its significantly less crowded than the suburbs and you definitely know of the tourists attraction – carriage rides around the area. Yes, I have a new take on seeing animals on the road – it’s cute, interactive and fun. I started seeing numerous movies (more in holiday season than I watch the rest of the year) and lots and lots of Bollywood flicks – You know the kind where the hero bursts into song each time he sees his lady love! Never knew that my love for Bollywood would continue till now!
Finally, it comes to the point of choosing where I spend my college years – and of course, I choose Bombay! And I’m glad I did! I spent my first year of college living with the greatest friends, watching loads of movies, going clubbing very VERY regularly and experiencing a whole different life! Sure my academic life suffered a little…. But I was always in the “Nerd” category, desperately wanting to get out, so I was more than willing to let that slide!
It’s not like I settled in immediately and knew all there was to know about Bombay as soon as I reached. I discovered places slowly and being the stubborn girl I am, had to learn the hard way of course! 🙂 The first time I boarded a bus on my own was also an experience. I had to travel from Andheri to Worli and ended up boarding a bus in the opposite direction, to Goregaon instead!
Today I can proudly say I’m a “Bombay-ite”! I have learned so much about different areas of Bombay ranging from the excessively crowded Inorbit Mall at Malad to the relaxed, leisurely Oberoi mall at Goregaon; from the well-known Lokandwala Shopping Complex in Andheri to the by-lanes and the umpteen shopping areas and dining places in Bandra. Slowly but surely, I learned of theatres in all possible areas in and around Andheri which were easily accessible (and maybe the ones where I can escape the pure torture of the traffic). I now know Bombay so well (at least certain parts) that my friends who are born and brought up here and have spent their entire lives here, call ME to ask ME for directions! Yay! I not only got to learn which theatres were where but I also know their phone numbers by heart! … Makes life a hell of a lot easier when it comes to booking tickets! 😉
Why, movies is not my only addiction! Food comes first! I have a favorite restaurant or two at every major station in Bombay… and I still have so many more left to experience! Oh n one tip for all the foodies out there… if you’re non-veg and like pizza, you should try Joey’s Pizza in Andheri West… it’s definitely ‘Bombay’s best pizza parlor’!!
I saw a different Bombay… One where the animals walk on the road with you and the poor share the little food which they have with the animals that are faithful to them…. One where the concept of ‘personal space’ does not exist, especially if you’re travelling second-class on a Churchgate bound train at 9a.m….. One where you’re poked, prodded on, pushed around and at the same time treated with love, care, affection and a genuine need to know all of your activities! This Bombay doesn’t have an end… No matter how much you explore and no matter how much you think you know, there’s always something more to go see, always some place you haven’t been to, always a new good restaurant to go to, and unfortunately, always a new place that will gladly steal your earnings while you’re enjoying the high-life!
Bombay has its own life – for those who allow it to penetrate to their souls, they will share a strong bond with it like that between two lovers. You develop a love-hate relationship with the city where most often you hate it for its traffic and pollution…. But come the time of moving out, that’s just not an option! Bombay is my love and I will stand by her side! What is Abu Dhabi to me, you ask? And all those confused feelings and emotions? Well… Abu Dhabi is my childhood crush…. I will always love it and cherish my moments there but I’ve grown-up and moved on. Bombay is my one true love!