Did WordPress change something? I think it did.

Well, missed a week of writing, so it’s time for a mega update. I’ve missed all these days for valid reasons (excuses), with multiple drafts on my phone, but nothing concrete written out.

I guess it’s time to explain Bombay.

I’ve been amazed and enthralled by the idea of India ever since I moved to the country. Till that point, I was disenchanted by the country, each trip here emphasizing the idea that India, was in some way inferior, or, below, the foreign land that housed me. I think it was the cockroaches, the mosquitoes, on one trip, and on another, the general lack of drainage systems, which clogged up Bangalore roads everytime the monsoon passed through the city. As a younger brat, it was the fact that milk didn’t come in cartons, and had to be boiled over, or that, set-curd as a concept existed, but nobody ever sought refuge to it, preferring, for some vague reason, their home-made curd with a layer of cream.

Since I moved here, however, mosquitoes have become friends I fence with, the lack of drainage has allowed me to step on puddles, and setting curd has become a household chore my day sometimes feels incomplete without.

To that end, since I’ve come here, and especially since coming to college, I’ve made some effort to move around and explore, instead of being lazy. India has a diversity that is incomparable, and one goal of mine, before I finish my law degree, is to explore and witness as much of it as I can, first-hand.

Going to Udaipur last weekend was one experience. Going to Delhi over the winter break to intern, was another. However, in my memory, I’ve only ever been to Bombay (the city, not the airport) 4 times. And all of these were extremely short trips – some, in transit to Pune, and therefore, a mere day. My memory of these trips are hazy and unclear, and for the most part, are not memories I call my own.

Which is why last weekend was extremely special. I took an Indian Railways train after forever, and headed to Bombay for a debate. Unfortunately, we didn’t do too well at the tournament, which left me a lot of time to explore the city and really soak in the entire experience.

My dad had worked in Bombay in the early 90’s, so I’ve heard a bit about the city from him – the fact that it can make you, and break you. The fact that Bombay is a tough city to live in, that you need to adjust a lot. My friends had told me similar things. All in all, therefore, my emotions prior to the trip were just excitement and nerves. Having gone around a fair bit for 4 days,a few conclusions follow:

First, Bombay is beautiful. I come from Bengaluru. A general characteristic about Bangaloreans is that we find things to complain about easily, because we’re spoilt at home. Nothing will come close to a flower exhibition at Lalbagh, or the sight of a Brahmin’s Cafe plate of idly, or a perfectly formed dosa from Vidyarthi Bhavan, but Bombay, oh my word, is beautiful. I love how the city is different in different parts, and your experience of Bombay is so dependent on which part of town you visit. Each area: Andheri, Juhu, Churchgate, Fort, has something unique to offer to the experience, the smell, the sight of the city. And I couldn’t get enough of it.

Second, Bombay is accepting and warm. I spoke earlier about the diversity of the country I call home at present (more about the transitive state of ‘home’ sometime later), but Bombay exemplifies all of that. And the city embraces the diversity, moudling itself to ensure everyone gets a little bit of it. I think the best example of this is the local. Space is understood to be shared. People can spot an outsider to the city, and take time to teach you the ropes, if you seem lost or confused. People care. Genuinely. And my understanding of the Bombay culture has changed over 4 days in the city.

Third, the food is incredible. I had the privilege of being with two localites: one, who cared for me on the days of the debate itself, and another, who offered me refuge in his home and took me around the city post-debate. Before embarking on more about food, a massive thank you to two amazing human beings. I would have judged the city a whole lot differently without you guys. This bit about food is a continuation of the accepting nature of the city. There’s food for everyone. And it’s well made. And it’s cheap, and delicious. I went to one city, but ate food that was an interpretation of the Middle East, a bit from North America, some South Indian, and oh-so-much food that Bombay is known for.

Lastly, because of this, there’s no one definition of a Bombay kid. I think that’s the biggest misconception I had. That Bombay kids were type-A, or type-B or type-C. But that’s untrue. The way the city takes you in and moulds you, you’ll end up being your own person, I think. You can generalize people from a lot of cities, Bengaluru included. But, I think my biggest takeaway from the weekend was that you cannot, and should not, generalize a Bombay kid. Because a Bombay kid has characteristics that are so dependent on so many factors, and each time you think you’ve identified a type, the Bombay kid will surprise you.

I love Bombay, and I cannot wait to go back there soon.


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