Why do I love this city? Why millions of people living here love this city?
The reasons are many.
This place has been gloried by the media for it’s spirit, pace and the way it has been able to feed the aspirations and dreams of millions always. Part of it is true but mostly it is simply because the city is highly workaholic.
The tourists don’t love this place always. There are some moments of appreciation when they visit the old Bombay and see colonial buildings, the gateway of India or maybe a newly added attraction – the sea link! But is that all? I mean why would anyone take the pain to face the sweaty heat and overcrowded roads to see a handful of buildings or beaches that are nowhere near exotic!
But there is more. Not on papers, not on tourist maps or any ‘what to do in Mumbai’ guides. It is right there on those cluttered streets, around the corners of old chawls, inside some wooden, sticky tea houses, in the rhythmic waves of not so exotic Arabian sea … There the soul of this mystical city lies. And once you meet her, you will have no option but to fall in love with her.
It is an amazing blend of cultures of the world. Right from all regional to international delicacies – everything is available on streets or in little restaurants and it is a wonder where do these illiterate chefs learn from! While the locals don’t like to compromise on the tastefulness of the food they also don’t like to compromise on the availability. Well, it is one of the very few (or may be the only) cities in the country that can serve all kinds of foods at the wee hours. Good food cravings at crazy hours? Well, Bombay is the place to be!
The old Bombay is the southernmost part of the city which still has the charm and aura of old colonial times. It is quite fascinating to imagine how this little island looked like a hundred years ago when the rich and sophisticated used to travel in buggies, commoners by trams or railways, handcarts were in abundance and all the markets around flourished with freshest fruits, vegetables, flowers and best quality dry fruits and spices. The textile and diamond merchants had their own markets and so did pharmacists. The streets, docks and markets were always busy. Now when you come back to ‘today’ the picture has not changed much expect that now there are no trams.
This old Mumbai stretches from southernmost part of Mumbai (Colaba) till Parel (approximately). However if one wants to get the hint of the old times one can visit the Crawford Market area. Of course visit it during the weekdays and not on Sunday because on Sunday most of the market is closed.
While walking on those old streets you may come across old theaters that still function but show some B grade movies, Irani cafes that haven’t undergone any renovation ever, book shops that resale some really rare classics at really cheap prices, some stalls selling strange handicrafts,jewelry, old coins etc and then suddenly a cow in the middle of the road that doesn’t care about a taxi honking at her. The more you observe the more you will see and the more intrigued you will be. The sheer variety and irrelevance of so many things at one place have a hypnotizing effect.
The name is now changed to Mumbai. It has been more than a decade that the name is changed however for those who have lived in the city for the most part of their lives, Bombay is their home town. It is not just a name. It is a sentiment, a souvenir from the past that carries the nostalgia… Well, it is one of the reasons why many love this city – A mystic reminiscence of the golden era.