Get involved in YOUR city and locality - Improve Your World
Get involved in YOUR city and locality - Improve Your World
Get involved in YOUR city and locality 
Improve Your World Home | About Us | Sitemap | Search | Contact Us 

  Volunteer Tales >> Calling All Ye Bombayites- A Time to Remember

Anyone who has been in Bombay will remember all her sounds

Anyone who has been in Bombay will remember all her sounds—sounds so distinctly Bombay—the sounds of the local trains whishing by, the hawkers peddling their wares noisily on busy streets, the koliwalis and the bhajiwalas gustily selling their fish and veggies, the doodhwalas on their cycles and trucks clunking bottles of fresh milk, the pheriwalas on their heavy carts yodeling the virtues of their goods, the busy housewife haggling to get the best price she can. Horns, raunchy music from a taxi blaring away, the trung trung of a BEST bus, college girls giggling, temple bells chiming, the afternoon namaaz, church bells tolling, street children running down the streets yelling profanities, and who can forget the eunuchs and their steady beat —all so much a part of Bombay and so inseparable.

Bombay! A city of contradictions—towering buildings and miles of shanties, roaring traffic beside busy street markets, temples, mosque and church under the same roof in the middle of bustling intersection, a kabutarkhana in the middle of another. Hoardings screaming the name of the latest blockbuster and banners hanging over busy flyovers decrying the latest political gaffe, stations bursting with populace stand next to huge grounds with at least 6 different cricket matches on at a time. Neatly dressed wives with hand bag slung over their shoulders and primly tucked saris, safari suited husbands with black briefcases running for the 7:05 Central, well dressed men and women sharing a crowded local compartment with fishermen heading to the city with their best catch. Pavement dwellers sharing the streets with partying crowds heading from the newest disco to the newest coffee bistro. This is Bombay that never sleeps.

All Bombayites will remember the monsoons. Pouring rains choking up the city's windpipe, bringing speeding trains to a grinding halt, street urchins scramming to earn a few bucks helping rich businessmen push their Maruti cars floating in chest deep water, a sea of black umbrellas at Churchgate station, hundreds walking along flooded railway tracks heading to the nearest dry destination. Children returning home from cancelled schools, housewives desperately trying to dry the daily laundry, tiny Udupi hotels doing brisk business because of all the stranded travelers!

Bombay's collegians will remember Malhar, Mood I, Kaleidoscope, Linking road, Fashion Street, Metro, and Marine drive! Families will remember Sunday evenings at Chowpatty and Ramprasad Bihari's wonderful sitaphal ice-cream. Young graduates will remember busy days rushing to work, hanging from crowded trains, the quick shoe shine outside Churchgate station before that all important meeting, the afternoon lunch at the nearest sandwichwala, dinner at the local Krishna Bhavan and then hanging out at the street corner with no cares in the world. And no memory of Bombay is complete without remembering all the festivities: Ganapati Bappa Morya at Shivaji Park, Ramlila in Juhu, Id at Mohammed Ali road, and the fair at Mahim church.

My memories of Bombay are all of this as well as the quiet morning sunrise- the sun trying to peek out of the rows of rooftops, of long waits at bus stop waiting for the 84 to take me home, of the Mahalakshmi mandir mela, of bhelpuri and kulfi. Pigeons—another memory of Bombay. It was hard not to find a kabutarkhana if there was but a four feet radius of space. If I had to remember one thing about Bombay, I would remember her spirit—the one that never said die. I grew up within a five-kilometer radius of one of the busiest temples and mosques in town. As you drive up towards Peddar road from Worli, you could see the pristine Haji Ali mosque hugging the shoreline along side the arches of the Mahalakshmi mandir and for one brief turn on the road, the two are almost wall to wall. Fridays meant long queues outside the mandir mingling with huge crowds readying to read the namaaz. The city saw riots, bomb blasts and repeated acts of communal violence but never gave up. I still see the same sight when I return home now. That has not yet changed. What has changed are the boundaries of the city- growing quickly to swallow up once distant suburbs that have now become thriving mini towns and home to the latest in fashion and style. All else remains the same. The city that fills you and becomes a part of your blood whose sounds your ears keen for wherever you go.