Amchi Mumbai

My association with Mumbai dates back to my childhood. My Dad got posted here and we stayed here for a year and a half. Those were the best days of my life, at least my childhood. I have plentiful sweet memories of those days. And I fell in love with the place then itself.

And Mumbai was one of the reasons why I chose IIT Bombay for my graduation. Having spent two more years in Mumbai, I have rediscovered my love for this place. Its Victorian architecture, the beaches, markets, even the traffic, there is something to it which draws me towards it. Somehow I can associate myself with the city, its people, even the smell of different areas. Having rekindled my old love for photography, it struck my mind as to why not capture Mumbai, by the night or evening, whatever……… I would call it “My Tribute to Mumbai”.

So out I set with my heavy baggage of cameras on a not so “bright and shiny” day. Still I was hoping against hope for a clear day, at least for the sake of my cameras. Having lost the batteries of my DIGI, trying to hop onto a running train (that in itself is a long story, demands a piece of its own) I had to go to Lamington Road to get the replacements. I was lucky at least on the monetary side to have gotten a decent deal on the batteries and the reel for the SLR camera. Just as I was getting buoyant, rains started pouring. I did a clumsy act trying to hide my stuff in the bag, and then the bag in my jacket. Somehow I managed to jump into a Double Decker bus and reach the front seat of the upper compartment. Seeing the bus crawl through the narrow lanes of south Mumbai, I could not resist myself and take some shots through the watered panes. It produced some hazy yet lovable shots.

I got down at Crawford Market. It is one of the bigger markets for fruits and so I decided to do some fruit photography. And soon I was the centre of attraction of almost all the fruit vendors. They must have felt I was some crazy chap wasting time. Most of them did not co-operate when I requested them to turn off or dim the lights. But I was not to be bogged down yet. I pursued on. They say luck is on the side of the courageous. And one of the vendors turned out to be overtly friendly. He arranged the light, the fruits and that gesture just fired me up. The shots were good. I loved them. After I was done, he came over to me and asked me to get the printed photos for him. He even asked me to do a shoot session and that he would pay for it. It almost was my first Photographic Assignment (or Job). I was elated. I still have his card in my pocket. I don’t know if I will do the job or not, but when I go there next, I sure will hand over the pics to him.

Seems my joy was only short lived and the SLR battery gave up. It had been last replaced three years back and this could have happened any moment. Headed towards the camera shop with a sunken heart, I knew I would not be able to take any more pictures that day. The battery used in my camera is kind of special and it had to be fetched from the store house. I was getting bored and started a casual conversation with the person sitting on the other side of the counter. He was a friend of the shop owner and had no idea about cameras. But, I was oblivious and kept on pestering him with my stupid queries. He meanwhile asked one of the staffs to get “wada pao” for all of us in the shop. He talked me into it and his kindness coupled with my hunger made me say yes. We kept on chit chatting on general things. I started liking him. Then my batteries arrived and I was getting desperate for some more shots. I wanted to run out and capture the setting sun by the Marine Lines beach. But then, I could not say no to him. I waited for the “wada pao” to arrive and tell you what it was the most delicious ones I had ever tasted. All my life, they are going to be the benchmark for “wada paos”. I was late, and could not get a single nice shot, but then I had some nice memories and a smile on my face.

I went towards Colaba area to have some fun or maybe just for the heck of it. I love the place more than any other in the city. But I was getting tired and so wanted to hurry back home. So at the bus stand I asked a man for directions about the bus to the railway station. He must have been at least 50. But his reply was “Come on guys, you are young. The station is near by. Just take a stroll.” So I went “Uncle I am tired….”. He retorted back “Come on yaar, you are so young. And you might catch glimpse of chicks along the way”. An exchange of smiles later, I was out on my foot in search of the chicks.

I never found any chicks but I had met three men, each different from the other. One an example of helpfulness, the second one was genuinely nice and kind, the third one youthful and enthusiastic about life.

They say a city is made of the people who live in it.

I now understood why. And my love for Mumbai grew…….

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