My Time In Mumbai

At the Gateway of India

To be exact, it’s been a month and 5 days since I started living on my own. Mumbai never felt too far away, it has always been a 3-hour-road-journey. But somehow now, it feels farther away. But having said that, it’s not uncomfortably out of reach from Pune, a place where I have lived practically my entire life. This city as of now feels like a really expensive pair of boots, the ones you’ve been lusting after for, I don’t know, forever? And now you have them. You have them and you try them on. Hmm. Not as comfortable as your old sneakers, but you know you’ll get used to them after a couple of days. Sure, shifting base and living independently all alone in a big city like Mumbai isn’t as easy as getting used to new shoes, but that was the best allegory I could come up with to simply and aptly describe my situation.

There are a couple of things I hate about Mumbai. The smells, the humidity, the traffic. But once I learned to move past that, I noticed the people on the crowded streets, how easy it was to just strike a conversation with them. I noticed that I wasn’t the only person alone here. There are thousands of people here, as alone as me trying to make it. As clichéd as it sounds, this city is where dreams come true, but it’s not an overnight wish fulfillment company. I learned that the hard way, but I learned alright.

I think I have always been lucky. Right from the beginning, back when I was a child.  I never had to ask for anything, I always got whatever I wanted before I even expressed my need or my greed. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself pampered, because we weren’t exorbitantly rich or anything, so I was just lucky. And good luck sticks, with a little assistance from good karma. I’m extremely lucky to have few people in this city who always have my back. Even though all these people started off as acquaintances, we have evolved and it would be safe to say, they have now become my 3 AM friends. 3 AM friends, you know? The kind of people you can call whenever at whatever time of the day and they will be there for you. Thanks to them, I’m not as lonely as I was before.

One word I have been struggling with ever since I have moved here is the word “home”. What is home exactly? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Home isn’t just a place you go to take a shower, crash for the night. Home is where the heart is, as cheesy as it sounds. As far as I’m concerned, Mumbai is home. Even though I’m not completely familiarised with this home, I don’t know all the hallways and balconies too well, I think I will soon. Pretty soon, I’ll know this home as well as my childhood home.

The whole concept of independence becomes obscured when you start living alone. Because now, you have no one to answer to, you are your own master and independence is so ingrained in you that it’s no longer a concept, it’s a way of life. Back home maybe, I could boast about being “independent”, but here, that’s just a part of my life and I have to deal with it regardless.

It is a common story : a young girl filled with aspirations to make it big in the city of dreams, leaves her nest and moves into the big scary real world, while her mother worries sick, tries to be as positive as she can, keeps motivating her to do her best, with the occasional threats to bring her back to ground reality. I’m trying not to just remain a “story”. I’m struggling to complete the story with a happy ending.

A couple things I’ve learned from staying here :

  1. Deciding what to eat becomes a task every day and you will eventually get sick of takeaways and you will miss home-made food
  2. Electricity is not taken for granted anymore.
  3. We realize how we had taken our dhobis for granted. Those clothes ain’t gonna wash themselves.
  4. Coming  home to no one can get a little exhausting
  5. Sometimes, coming home to no one is very very enjoyable.
  6. You need to go shopping for things you would have never imagined going shopping for. For example- phenyl, dusters, water bottles
  7. You realize that the house, unfortunately, can’t clean itself.
  8. Also, finding a place to live in, in the first place is a huge pain in the behind.
  9. Making friends requires to put yourselves out there.
  10. Trusting and not trusting people at the same time. There’s a thin line.

I’m sure I would have added ten more points by the end of this month. That’s what makes it so much more exciting. There’s so much to learn and every day’s an adventure. And I really don’t know any other way to live.

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