Bombay, bas

Published on July 11th, 2013

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How to do Mumbai in the rains

A Mumbaikar doles out tips to enjoy the rains in the city. Just one thing before you start: head West.
by Abbas Bagasrawala

Begin at Marine Drive. Or at Worli Seaface. If you can’t, just head towards the sea. The sea is where it all began, and it still is where everything that’s worth anything is birthed, is unearthed.

mumbai rainsIf you’ve just landed at the airport, find your way through the pretense and the populace to the sea. If you’re at Victoria Terminus (or what they now call CST), make your way out of her womb and hail a cab, and enjoy the relatively short drive to the coast, past Churchgate where the world waits for a train seat, to salvation. If you’re in the Central suburbs, where the stragglers rule, then brace yourself, and get yourself to the West. Not because the West is the best, not even because that’s the natural aspiration in Mumbai, but because that’s where the sea is, that’s where the lifeblood is. Step out towards the fringe, towards the edge of existence, away from the madness, away from all that you were trying to be or trying not to be.

As in everything in Mumbai, be practical about what you wear and who and what you take with you. Leave behind all doing mumbai in the rains 1that which is unbecoming. Leave behind all that leaves you bare and unsure of what your skin seems to envelop. This is not a time for all that is fanciful and fake. This is not a time for colours that run, and neither is it a time for that which is sheer and not of sound fabric.

Leave behind your smartphones, your tablets, your excel files and the other shackles that imprison you. Take a friend, a lover, a brother, a sister, a mother and a father, a pet. Take all that which can’t be left behind. Take along all that could use an ablution including the stained, harrowed essence of you. Take also that which needs to be let adrift in the churn of a sea, for a burial that yields new life.

Take music if possible, something fitting for the moment, something like Verdi’s The Force of Destiny to soundtrack the moment or something as dramatic. This is Bollywood land and it would also be okay and even appropriate if you took something that came from the heart…of Mumbai. The guys at rediff.com have even compiled a list to assist you, while reminding in a none too subtle manner how important the rains are to this city, to this country, to this people. It also is a reminder that I don’t know crap about Bollywood.

Personally, I would take no music at all, mainly because it’ll ruin the electronics and cost me a fortune that I can’t spare but also because I like the sound of an angry sea chastising a coastline, denigrating it for aspiring to be more than an island.

Once you’re at the sea, hope that it is raining, and that it is wild, and that it is unbridled, just like you once were. Breathe. Then smile. Everything will be alright.

Bombay, bas is a weekly column on getting around the madness of Mumbai and exploring the city with a fresh perspective. 

(Pictures courtesy news.in.msn.com, photogallery.indiatimes.com, blogs.ft.com, www.reuters.com)

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2 Responses to How to do Mumbai in the rains

  1. Rekha says:

    You have put across a good article, but there is a certain part which is little disturbing.

    You said “Central Suburbs are ruled by stragglers” I really want to know what makes you say that? Do you have figures to prove it or is it your assumption? A large portion of Mumbai’s working class (including mid level and top level management) reside in central suburbs, there are VPs, Directors of big companies happily residing there. Are you telling us that these guys are stragglers? I bet they wouldn’t be happy to know about this.

    And about “West is best and the natural aspiration in Mumbai to be in west” let me clarify, in no way Central Suburbs lack behind, it has better and wider roads, lots of greenery, less traffic, good societies to stay. At eastern express highway, the traffic flow is not that bad as western express highway where one spends hours at the traffic jam during peak hours and sometimes at non peak hours as well. My office colleagues from western suburbs crib everyday about the traffic and the bad roads. Talking about aspiration to be in west, who would want to move to a place that is so crowded, has too many buildings, bad roads and less greenery. Central Suburbs do not have sea, but it definitely has many lakes that provides water for the entire city. And this I am stating because I have not only traveled to eastern suburbs, but have traveled to western suburbs, navi mumbai and south mumbai area.

    I am not against anyone or western suburbs, in fact I love lot of places there, but I am against this kind of attitude which degrades certain areas of the City. Every area comes with its good points and bad points, just be proud of being a Mumbaikar not about being from certain area.

    • Abbas Bagasrawala says:

      Hey Rekha,

      Thanks for looking in. What wrong in calling someone a straggler? I’m a straggler and I think that it is one of my endearing qualities. Most of human achievement has been brought about through the endeavors of the stragglers. I do you no injustice if I call the Central Suburbs, straggler central.

      That being said, the West of Bombay despite its many flaws, is still prettier than anything that the Central Suburbs has to offer because of the sea. I am weak knee-ed about seas in general, so that unfortunately remains my opinion.

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