Through the Broad Street, Ebbs and Flows a Human Tide

May 2, 2010: My first day in Bombay.  Since then life has been everything but slow.  Never did I stop to ponder at where the crowded streets were taking me, just walked along. I don’t remember how I managed to sleep for 4 hours every night and wake up in the morning to rush into the train and land up in time (well almost) for my early morning lectures. I don’t remember how the scale on the weighing machine went from forty nine to forty two and the diet came crashing down.  However, what I have not forgotten are the first of my many experiences in this wonderfully huge city.

I can picture the way the station looked that day, unfamiliar and scary, while I stood in the long queue to buy myself a local train ticket. As I walked to the crowded platform, how I imagined my body dangling outside the train if it started to move and I did not manage to get inside on time. I was fearful of falling down and embarrassing myself in my attempt to catch a train. How silly I was! Once inside, I was taken aback by how swiftly and promptly the ladies fought. It was a form of oration (in a language I did not understand) at its best.
And yes, I remember the joy unbound when I got down unscratched fifty minutes later at the even more crowded CST.

A gasp escaped my mouth, that summer afternoon, when I first caught a glimpse of marine drive. The vast sea and the wind that caressed my face were so different from everything else that Bombay had to offer. The artistically etched ships in the sea made me ponder as to where they were coming from and where they were headed.  Looking at a forlorn man, I had made a mental note of coming here someday by myself and giving words to my thoughts. There was a golden retriever that I had awed at. And then, I remember sighing at the sudden poignant realization that this was one of the very few refugees that the city dwellers had amidst the never ending traffic and multi storied buildings.

The girly-girl that I am, I manage to unerringly remember the exact stores that I stepped into on my first shopping spree here. Blinded by colors and offered with choices abound, I had presumed shopping to be one aspect of the city life that I would never get bored of.

Sick of feeding on hostel food all my life, the menu card that offered me continental, Chinese and Italian delight in the same page was temptation at its best. Not that I hadn’t been to a restaurant before, but Bombay was something else.

A year since then and sometimes, the station still seems like a scary place in the wee hours.  I have failed to train myself to jump in and out of moving trains, and the occasional fights that I witness continue to amaze me.

I am yet to put a check beside my mental note of a lonely self treat at Marine drive. I am bored to stiff of going to the same shopping malls, and the continental delicacies have made me lose more weight than the hostel food ever did.

As I sit here picturing my first few days in Bombay, I remember the person I was. I know the person I am today. But oddly I don’t remember much in amid. I don’t remember how I found my way through the crowded streets, if I ever did. I wonder if I am still caught there.

And I realize. It’s a strange city, Bombay.

Sarita Santoshini

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