Oh yes, everybody, we love the Island City. Not for its glittery Page 3 crowd, not for Bollywood, not for the stock markets and business hubs. We love it because it is a city of survivors, it is the city with a never-say-die attitude. Well, why not? That’s the only way to survive the mayhem of Mumbai.
But on a suicidal occasion that one wants to remember the ways that Yamraj plays peek-a-boo with us here, one comes up against some rather bizarre options:
1. Love over sanskriti:
No, we aren’t cynics. We do believe that love conquers all and that celebration is joyous and should be shared. On the other hand, we’d think twice about setting up a gift shop for Valentine’s day outside a Shiv Sena shakha.
2.The grand outdoors:
The heat in this city is killing and we do love our seaside. Then again sleeping outdoors mayn’t be a good idea. Much less trying to experience the great outdoors on the Bandra boulevard. Even if you don’t have the money to go elsewhere. For who knows which filmstar or rich kid may choose to go drunken drag-racing just then?
3.Brick by brick we were built:
We believe in progress. We like to beautify our spaces. And yeah, we like money just like the next city…we’re the financial capital after all!!! Which may be why we let the shop on the ground floor get a face-lift. Even if it ignores all building safety norms.
4. Train travails:
Not to say that Mumbai isn’t a city for adventure. Feeling particularly suicidal tonight? Get into a Virar local. If you manage to make it intact, do whisper (rather loudly) to a friend in the opposite side of the compartment that you’re getting off at Bandra. Yes, the locals are very friendly and they’ll show you the way right upto heaven.
5.Money, money, money, must be funny in a rich man’s world:
Oh yeah, let it never be said that Mumbai is a city of angels blessing progress. Let us never be accused of the heinous crime of honest trading. Nor the depressing thought of ‘happy and successful’. The richer we are, the more we pay. Taxes, hafta and protection. We succeed, we make music, we make money and then it’s time to face the music.
6. The net of networking:
We’re right up the information superhighway though we have our share of dark alleys. Setting up a cybercafé is great but we mayn’t want to advertise our business on ‘orkut’ unless we were looking for some extra-bloody action. Alternately we could always promote international harmony by parading through Dadar carrying a certain green coloured flag. Guaranteed success if done the day India loses a cricket match to a certain neighbor.
7. Water woes:
Finally if all else fails we return to water. Wait for the monsoon and pray for a repeat of July 26th. Or just take a plunge off Aksa beach and stay there.
Just in case, I still do need to clarify this, most of this post has been in jest. I mean no disrespect for the dead and nor do I make light of the very real perils of life here. As a Mumbaiker, I’ve lived through two earthquakes, one gigantic flood, numberous bomb blasts, gang shootouts and communal riots. I’m extra cautious on December 6th as on February 14th and major religious/patriotic celebration dates. I’m also susceptible to being a casualty of bomb blasts, train mishaps, building collapses, road accidents and general street crime. But I travel the length of this city every day, realizing fully well that death and danger to life could happen in the most unanticipated, most mundane ways possible. Each day, like in the jungle, is a fight for survival. Like everyone else, I swallow that thought and go on or make a joke of it. It’s just too much to bear otherwise.
Keep smiling, keep walking, Mumbai.