How many movies and how many books have tried how many times to capture the essence of this city? The soul with which it thumps days in and nights out? The glory of just being...just being Bombay. Amidst the overwhelming spread of documentation, it seems all you need is a search engine to satisfy your urge to know the city. But is it enough? Is anything enough?
It has been more than a decade since I moved reluctantly to Bombay. Being uprooted from the city of my birth, I was determined to dislike it. But as is the way with my life..I always end up doing that which I decide against. As I fell out of childhood and into the mess of adolscence, I fell for the charms of the city. Unknown to me, like an eternal enchantress, Bombay had held me in her memerising grip, and I had finally, ceased to resist.
But you see, being in love with Bombay is something that comes naturally to visitors. Those that stay, and those that move away. The sensuality is such, it is impossible to see, and not want to see some more. From the beaches bathed in the first light, the sharp smell of fresh fish at Sassoon Dock, the haunting smell of mogra in the well oiled hair of the koli women, the tangy taste of vada pav that evoked hunger at odd hours, the continuous attempt to hang from the doors of local trains, avoiding the perspiring crowd, the crows that flew so low they almost touched your head, the stolen glances of love at Bandra Fort, the gleam of the corporate and the buzz of page 3, lights that twinkled brighter than stars at Marine Drive at the onset of dusk, which set a gloomy shadow in the caves of Kanheri, probing the beauties of Kamathipura to lay out their jewels, a celebration of life palpitates as the night wears on, only to be better prepared for the trials of the next sunrise.
Bombay however, holds more. It is one thing to love her from afar, to admire her beauty, to hold her in pictures...but it is not easy to remain bonded to her for long. One day, the potholes, the attacks, the sqwabbles in the trains, the irritating wait on the roads, the crow shit on your car, the increasing price of the cold cutting chai, the incompetence of all those who are responsible for the above are going to get to you. And then you might leave Bombay, for say Amsterdam, or New York, or Athens.
Bombay ka kuch nahi ho sakta yaar. Bloody corruption ne dho daala hai country ko...
So easy to leave. Like a broken relationship. A failed marriage. Walk away. Easy.
But you will come back. Because Bombay was never your wife, baby, she was your mistress. The charms may die, the attraction does not. And slowly, you realise there is a soul within the glamour. It is not just the beauty, it is the energy with which it is presented. An intangible qwality you will lurge forward to grip, but always miss. This is the magic. The ploy. That which will always make your heart beat faster when you truly think of her. And make you come back. Now and forever.
No photograph, no memoir, no movie does justice. Bombay is just too big to be captured.