A-Z of Bombay – Part II

Over the centuries, the city has been called by several names, ranging from Manbai to Bombaim, from Boon Bay to Mombaim and even Kakamuchee. In the first part I’ve taken you through the first half of the alphabet with all that gives the city its quirky charm. Here’s what’s left…

N for Noise
If you’ve come from a smaller city, you will definitely be in for a rude shock with the soaring decibel levels in Bombay. But if you’ve survived this city for some time now, you would have realised that you’ve learnt to tune out the incessant noise, almost like it were merely white noise. The noise is so constant that it seems like people sometimes miss it when waiting at a traffic signal, and start honking even when the light is red just to reach that noise equilibrium.

O for Overcrowded
If you thought a mosh pit was filled with a bunch of unruly strangers pushing each other around, think again! Sometimes merely walking around Mumbai’s streets can give you that feeling, or better still try walking around Dadar station, and climbing the bridge. People are literally everywhere in the city – on roads, in buses, in cars, in trains, on bridges, on bikes, in offices, in the market – every imaginable place, regardless of whether people are allowed there or not.

P for Pollution
Normally, if you look down the road late at night and can’t see too clearly ahead of you, you’ll think that winter is approaching and that roads are getting foggy. Think again! That’s just the pollution in the city. If you keep your windows open for a day, you’ll notice a layer of dust collect on your furniture. And that’s not all – you’ll find roads filled with all kinds of garbage too!

Q for Queues
There’s a queue for most things in the city – train tickets, check-out counters, fast food chains – and while most of them seem organised, you can’t help but notice the manner in which Mumbaikars form a queue.The queue is mostly a crowd right at the counter, where only the fittest can survive, which is true for most of the city.

R for Routine
If you’ve lived in the city for long enough, you definitely have a routine. While it’s true of people in most cities, I believe that Mumbaikars strive extremely hard to stick to that routine. Those travelling catch the train at a specific time, those travelling by bus know which bus follows the next, even those travelling by car know the exact operation flow at the signals. One small change in that, and you’re jolted out of the routine, almost questioning its change.

S for SkywalksYou perhaps first noticed it at Santacruz station, when the pink stood out of the rest of the skyline. Since then, every station seems to be getting them. You can’t deny its usefulness, when you can walk a good distance without a car, rickshaw or bike almost crashing into you, or when you can reach your destination without having to plead with the city’s rickshawallas. Yes, the commuters can definitely vouch for more sprouting up in the city, but with the number of people squatting there for some sleep or shade, it makes you wonder how long they would take to actually occupy the whole path.

T for Trains
Ah, the Mumbai locals. This post would be incomplete without them. If you’ve come to the city, and not travelled by train, then you’ve definitely missed out on an experience. More than merely taking you to your destination, trains allow you to shop on your commute, eavesdrop on some aunties’ juicy conversations, and even enjoy a laugh when people get into a verbal fight. But to give credit where it’s due, the system does solely stand as the city’s lifeline. After all with each train carrying more than thrice its capacity in peak hours, who can deny that we can’t live without it.

U for Uncomfortable
I remember seeing the city of Dubai from a flight when landing there once, and the first thing I thought of, was that it was planned – the roads were organised and the traffic was systematic. One aerial glance at Mumbai and all you’d see is discomfort. I am very sure no one thought of comfort while planning the roads, the flyovers, the bridges and every other possible thing they could fit into the space.

V for Vast
There are many cities in the world which you can cover in a day – Mumbai isn’t one of them. After living in this city for almost 4 years now, I can still confidently say that I have not been to most of the city. Why? There are just too many nooks and corners in the city, which is next to impossible to completely cover. But it’s actually inside some of these places do you really get to see how Mumbaikars live.

W for Weathered
If nothing else, my relentless rants about the crowd in the city, should get you to think about how the city could possibly cope with all of it. If the rapidly increasing population isn’t enough, think about all the bombings that have completely shaken up this city. Think about it – we live on an island – there’s not much stopping Mother Nature from taking over.

X for X-rated PDA at Bandra Reclamation
Ever passed by Bandra Reclamation and spotted a line of cars and bikes parked at the sides of the road? Well if you haven’t already figured it out, there’s some complete X-rated action going on inside those parked cars, and extreme PDA on the bikes. Yes, it makes you wonder why these young lovers are on the streets. I’d blame society for that. Moral bells ring and society’s eyes open up wide even if they see a young girl and boy entering a house together. What’s disappointing is that no one even has the second thought that they could be friends, or even siblings!

Y for Yellow & Black Taxis
You see the colour everywhere in the city – on 3 or 4 wheeler vehicles. Yes, the yellow and black taxis and rickshaws have become an infamous part of the city. The colour is so synonymous with that means of transport, that people would even pass remarks at someone wearing clothes of that colour combination.

Z for Zzzz
Just as much as I need it after this two-part article, every Mumbaikar needs their beauty sleep, after a hard day’s work in the city. After all, wouldn’t you need it too if you experienced everything in this article all in one day?

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