There could be a hundred different options for each of the letters, but in showcasing what I’ve learnt and experienced from the city, here’s the first part of my list. Read and Enjoy!
A for Andheri
If you live in Bombay and have managed to not step into or even near Andheri station, you’re the luckiest! If you do dare to, I’m sure you’ve wondered if all of the city’s population chose to come to the station the same day and time you did. Some are there to catch a train, some choose the station as a meeting point, some are selling the Indian-version of the Chinese goods, and I’m certain that some are there just to make some people’s lives hell.
B for Bollywood
In the city, lies the heart of the Hindi film industry – Bollywood. People flock to the city for a vague chance that they get a glance of their ‘stars’. Come to the city and see Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan wave at you – yes, that’s the dream. The people are crazy about their films.
C for Chaat
You cannot live in the city and not have sampled the city’s street-side delights. Mumbai’s chaat includes a mix of spicy and sweet delights that so well combines the city’s big yet crowded nature. If you’re daring enough on a visit to the city, try a plate of pani puri or vada pav (with mirchi).
Colaba Causeway is a haven for shoppers, and came in so close in the competition for ‘C’, that I had to mention this as well. Here you have the perfect mix of branded and street-side shopping. Where else can you get an H&M (a brand not available in India) dress for a mere Rs 200? You might even be amused to see the security tag on some of the clothes, which the roadside vendors are more than happy to pound of that perfect summer dress.
D for Drained
Living even a day in the city will definitely suck the life out of you. Take any medium of transport to and from work and I can guarantee that you just flop on your bed at night out of sheer exhaustion. A friend once said that living in Mumbai is a typical rat race. While you are running to get to work, you have already planned out the next 3 steps of your life. It’s difficult, almost rare, to find a day when you’ll be merely slouching on your sofa without absolutely nothing to do.
E for Expressways
There’s the Western, Eastern and the Mumbai-Pune expressway – for now. If these weren’t enough there is a plan for a new one to Baroda. Yes, the cities are being better linked, but do the inter-city ones really do anything to make your commute better? With the bumper to bumper traffic, I think not!
F for Fare
I believe that this is the new F-word for Mumbaikars. Auto drivers want it increased; commuters object. What’s the solution? In this city, amicable solutions seem to be a thing of the past – here auto drivers resort to meter tampering and the age-old route of stubbornness. “Station? 50 rupees.” It’s a terrible take-it-or-leave-it situation.
G for Gateway of India
King George VI entered the city at that location and this monument stands as a homage to the event. Visit the monument any time of the day and I guarantee a hoard of people, all of whom seem interested in getting pictures clicked, but I’m positive more than half the crowd is unaware of it’s significance. Unfortunately, now, it’s being pointed out as the place where the 26/11 terrorists entered the city.
H for Haji Ali
For some this name represents a place of worship, for others it even stands for the “juice centre” just outside that earned its name from the monument and its fame from the fresh fruit juices it serves till the wee hours of the morning. A walk along the road leading to Haji Ali at sunset, gives you the perfect view of the sun setting into the sea with the dargah in silhouette.
I for IMAX
Though I haven’t been to the cinema in Wadala (something I regret), being the world’s largest dome theatre, is definitely reason enough to have it feature on the list. The dome has been replaced by a single large screen, with recliners. It’s high on my must-do list – to enjoy a terrific 3D movie in the cinema.
J for Juhu Beach
It used to be cluttered with small stalls selling every possible form of fast food available – in all cuisines. For those of you who’ve visited the shacks on the beaches of Goa, don’t be confused, these don’t even come close. Fortunately, the authorities have razed all of them, and provided them a section at the end of the beach for commercial purposes. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped all kinds of garbage from piling on what I feel ashamed to even call a beach. I truly believe that the crowd and the garbage easily outnumber the grains of sand here.
K for Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
A big thanks to a close friend for introducing me to the festival in my first year in Mumbai. With an intention to just walk and window shop, we headed to the arts festival one tiring day after work. You’re immediately hit by the large crowds gathered to watch the performances, be it concerts or fashion shows. Make your way through the crowd and be amazed by the wondrous collection in each stall.
L for Lonavala
If you’ve lived in Mumbai long enough, you have a holiday home in Lonavala, or, if you’re lucky enough, have a friend with a house there. It’s proximity to the city (albeit without traffic) makes it the most popular weekend destination for the drained out Mumbaikars. We’ve all been to Bushi Dam, Lion’s Point, and have even driven up the road leading to Aamby Valley. If you’ve been inside, you’d have experienced an example of a live oxymoron.
M for Mumbai
Yes, we all know that’s the official name of the city, but do we really use it? People who’ve lived here for years will never even by mistake refer to the city as Mumbai. Those who’ve recently moved to the city might hesitate to utter the old name Bombay out of sheer fear. After all, who can blame them after all the stories of bandhs and lathi charges to ensure Mumbai retains its Marathi heritage.
To be continued…