When I think of
I remember once we took a taxi and got to their flat on our own. In a quiet voice my mother had given the address to the driver and before we knew it we were by the
The days that followed were filled with various outings. She took us to the famous Kailash Parbat Restaurant in Colaba, among other eating places. Of course, since we were kids and she knew we’d enjoy Chowpatty, she took us there. For shopping we went to
I still remember Aunty Monica saying, today we will go to so and so place in Colaba for lunch, for the best pao bhaji. “Why all the way there and what was the big deal about that particular dish?” I wondered. After all it meant nothing but bread and vegetables. It was only when I saw the huge crowd waiting to be served that I understood that this was indeed a famous joint.
Is it any wonder then that even now when I see the mouth-watering soft small breads and sizzling vegetable puree with onion slivers, hot green chillies, and fresh kothmir (coriander leaves) that my mind flashes right back to Bombay? The same goes for lychees. The very first time the firm moist fruit touched my lips was in
It used to be a thrill to be able to poke my head out of the balcony windows and look to the right to see the magnificent
Is it any wonder then that
From a young age, I had the impression that in
Each fun-filled holiday ended with taking many gifts back home. Both maasi and aunty were very kind that way. They always made sure that we took several sweet, succulent, mangoes back home with us.
Years later on my visit to Poona, I landed at the Bombay International Airport, something I always did, even though I could have flown to Delhi and then from there to Poona. This time, the plan was to spend more than the usual few hours at the airport. This time, I was planning on spending two whole days in the fast-growing cosmopolitan city.
As a tourist, I had to ensure that I got from Point A to Point B: safe and sound. After years of watching numerous Bollywood films, I was convinced that if I were not careful, I could be duped or seriously hurt. Even though I was not alone, it was my country of birth but not my friend’s who was travelling with me. I felt I had to look out for both of us.
Our recent adventures in
“Look, it’s already 9 o’clock; we don’t want to get in the taxi too late. I’ve never done this before: get in a cab all alone in
By some miracle, in spite of the several families and other foreigners, I got ahead and even managed to get into a taxi even as the airport police were taking down the details. My friend had no choice but to join me just in case the taxi driver took off without him.
I believed the driver knew where he was going. Why wouldn’t I? It turned out after what seemed like 30 minutes or so, he said he needed to ask for exact directions.
So we stopped at an ST stand. “Okay,” I said in a bold voice in Hindi. After consulting with a man in white kurta-pajama, the driver turned around to say, “he is going where the hotel is, needs a lift, will be a good idea to take him along, we will not get lost.”
“My worst dream was coming true,” I thought. “What have I done to us?” Quickly translating to my friend I okayed the driver, but was distressed, tried to conceal it lest I gave my fear away. Throughout the drive I kept thinking, “worst comes to worst, I will jump out from the car; hopefully my friend will follow.”
Within few minutes, the driver dropped off the man and he pulled into the hotel drive.
Needless to say, once inside the hotel, we both thanked our lucky stars for nothing horrible happening to us.
There was another incident where I had unknowingly overpaid the
Again I had been wearing a kurti. “Surely I sounded like I had not lived there for a while,” I thought. Instead of ripping me off, here was a low-wage earning administrator who was honest, when he could have so very easily pocketed the money.
I felt a renewed sense of pride for having been born in
As it happens when you are enjoying, time flies. Of course, we visited a couple of childhood haunts that I could remember. We had the famous parathas among other dishes at Kailash Parbat. But we also went to places that I had not been to before. Like the Taj Sea Lounge for a light lunch the next day. The view from the restaurant of the sea, The Gateway of India, boats going off to
Most fascinating to him was the gothic Victoria Terminus Train Station architecture. Seeing the inside of the station impressed him even more. “How clean the floors are,” he whispered. “What do you mean”? I asked. “Considering the crowds and everything, the station is remarkably clean.” I felt as if I was personally responsible for the upkeep of one of the famous landmarks.
We were also impressed with the mid-afternoon quietness. “Perhaps it is because people are at work. This happens to be the richest city and the financial hub of
Coffee breaks in cafés like Leopold exposed us to yet a different side of
Then this last time when we were in
Whereas Juhu was all about boutique stores, smart-looking sales people, and brand name billboards, Linking Road was more about clothes, bags of all sorts, footwear of every imaginable size and colours all out on display on carts, walls, doors, basically anywhere and everywhere you could hang.
Be careful, I warned, “could get your pocket picked.” Again we got back to our hotel rooms unharmed. Seeing the crowds, I was certain that we would be jostled this way and that way. But to my pleasant surprise, people moved aside or we moved aside, no pushing and no shoving.
Of course, we felt it would be a shame not to go to Juhu beach just before sunset and watch the fiery orange ball go down every second. It was fascinating to see the different crowds on the beach at different times of the day.
Before sunset, it was all about families and young couples eating, playing, holding hands, trying not to cuddle and generally having a gala time with all the pao bhaji, corn on the cob roasted right before your eyes, bhel puri, pani puri, coconut water… In the mornings before nine it was more the joggers and the others who walked to get their exercise in before they get busy. Of course, since it was Saturday there were young boys playing cricket on the beach.
How very different from the States we thought. Many other places in the world are interesting and even charming, but that does mean you visit again. Or the charm is lasting.
If charming can be defined as compelling attractiveness, then