When my grandparents were travelling for the first time to Australia, we went to send them off at Mumbai. It’s the nearest airport to our city which had flights to Melbourne during then. Bengaluru was an option too but maybe the elders decided Mumbai for a reason inclined to this being a first-time experience for most of us. I’m not sure.
We stayed at a relative’s house in Chembur, and they are a generation older than my grandma. Agnihotri, the family’s last name, I profoundly heard turning into just ‘agni’ on the friendly notes this man encountered. He seemed to me as a person full of action and maybe calling him fire was justified to every generous greeting.
It is in Chembur that I first came across a Reader’s Digest magazine.
Given our host’s age, it was particularly surprising for this enthusiasm to be shared within the couple. I figured this kind of action to be common in Mumbai. Ajji’s sandwich is still the best home-made dish I’ve ever had on a bus back to Hubballi. Proves to me about not seeing anyone perform so vigorously even to this date and all of it seemingly turns out to be effortless.
Agni, as they call him, was a part of The Taj Mahal Palace. To be more specific, he made important decisions at Taj as I’m told about my distant family’s history. I also observed this to be true during when his ex-colleague greeted him that afternoon. It’s been also told to me about how he worked at a role more important in the Reserve Bank of India.
And, it was this man who showed me Mumbai. He was there as if for the first time, with me watching the sea and it’s city dance on the notes of humans. Very gladly lucky that a person of such stature in life and gratitude was the one to introduce me to the city of dreams. Arguably to dreams themselves.
No one stops working here, but when we were at Taj – it was closed for renovation. Still, no one stopped working. I’ll talk about our visit to The Taj Mahal Palace in a different post. Why? Because the story is more personal to this country rather myself and it showed a literal black spot during those times on every Indian screen. Only the colour black faded to this rainbow of survival I can only talk and write about.
We saw every location which was attacked during those four days. Almost every location, because this act of terror is dramatically an event wider than one specific spot to be clearly affirmative about the panic one might have faced during then. And, these acts were definitely also wider than any sane man’s imagination I know of.
This trip was in January of 2009 and the 26/11 attacks were still visible when we saw the damage from Gateway of India. What I saw on TV, those clouds of black smoke, were now this shallow spot on the artful window panes. This place is not only dreamy in the sense of abstraction but also in the manner of reality. I remember telling stories and confirming what my friends saw on their TV, when I was back at my school.
Here’s a picture of me, a ten year old virgin, pretending to be a horse-rider on the streets of Colaba:
If you’re from Mumbai or been there at all, please trap me in it’s magic on my next visit. This request is to make sure that I continue dreaming about the city of dreams. Tell me the good and the bad like it’s any better. Thank you for reading.
At the end of this post, I realise there is literally a whole blog possible based on this single trip. Spared. I will be adding more about my adventures in Mumbai later. Until then, hope you get some time to dream!
Look at my artwork: