A couple of days ago, I went to Ganpatipule in Ratnagiri on the Konkan coast. It has an unpolluted beach and walked barefoot on the brown sands kissed by the waters. I snorkeled in the sand and sunbathed in the beach. The genuinely warm, funny Maharashtrians ensured that we had a great time. I guess it was natural because we were staying with a local family, eating all Maharashtrian food. The coastal town was enveloped with a pristine white sands, coral blue sea, acres of lush tropical wetlands, broad roads with tree-lined and cozy wayside cafes.
It was one of the best weekend trips as you can imagine. Yet, as I was nearing the end of the weekend, I couldn't wait to get back to Bombay. Yes, that Bombay of coastal wasteland, fast-paced life, concrete jungles, acres of slum dwellings and garbage lined streets. Yes, that Bombay, where if strangers greet you, you run as far away from them as possible. After 72 hours of being greeted with spectacular bird's eye-views, the trademark welcome of slums as we were returning back by train, gladdened my heart. I was home.
In 2002, my parents decided to put me in a residential school in Pune to "discipline" myself. I was in the fifth grade then, oblivious to this life-altering decision my parents had taken. Barely two months later, I faked a terrible fever and ensured that my parents brought me back to Bombay. My faking of a terrible fever was so genuine that my teachers were easily convinced. People still ridicule me for wanting to leave Pune for the grime of Bombay. Silly, spoilt brat they say. Perhaps so. I will always carry the guilt of making my parents waste so much money on transport as well as the school fees. But when I'm asked why, my answer is this: "I'm a Bombay boy. I understand it's over-simplified and cliched, but then there's no better way to say it."
What is it about Bombay that intoxicates your bloodstream and gets you addicted? What is it about the city that so many of us, who persistently whine about its traffic, pollution, corruption, slums and degradation, still manage to say with uninhibited pride, "I'm a pucca Bombayite."? Cynics will assert that those who love Bombay for what it is are those who are sheltered from its harsh reality in their plush high-rises or luxury cars. Others say it's the people who make the city. There are also those, who despite being born and bred in Bombay, abhor it. What do they see that we foolish lovers don't? I haven't quite figured it out just yet. If you have figured it, please send me a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org . For now, all I know is that I'm happy to be back home.
That's it from me for today!! Until next time then, have a great week ahead and keep smiling so much that the other person is compelled to smile. :D