October 16, 2013

Yeh Hai Bombay, Meri Jaan

Ha Haa, Ha Ho Ho, Ho Hi Haa Ha Haa / Hm Hm Hm Hm, Hm Hm

First time I arrived in Bombay, it was for a campus placement visit. The Mumbai-Pune Volvo dropped me near Sion where I had to take an auto to stay at my brother's friend's place in Juhu. The auto wala got elated when I told him the address, he told me "This place is just next to Amitabh Bachchan's house. Chaliye, I will show you on the way." He took me around to show the exterior of the famous celebrity house before dropping me at my destination. Probably this has been the FIRST experience for many on arriving in Bombay, but I still feel privileged to have a story to tell.

Next time I came, it was for a job in one of the IT companies as HR. Fresh out of campus, free and independent, Bombay was a choice, a symbol of everything I wanted. The initial days in Bombay were full of camaraderie and laughter. The simplicity of people, friendships formed with just a smile and such freedom to speak your mind. There are so many moments when I transitioned from a North wali to a Bombay wali. How we all laughed when I offered babugosha to a colleague and he didn't figure what I was referring to. When I explained it was what we call a pear up north, they laughed mouthing the word babugosha for the next 1 hour; or when I realized that my colleague Shah was actually a Gujarati; or when I offered to cut a rough looking Sitaphal with a knife and they humored me saying it's soft enough to be peeled by hand.

I left Bombay in 2005 only to return in 2008 for a new job in a new firm. What was about this city that I kept coming back to it, discovering it more on each return? Ganpati Visarjan, Dahi Handi on Janmashtami and Dandiya during Navratri something of a Bollywood song and dance routine for me, came to be more than real. The tastes of Sevpuri with green mango pieces at Chowpatty, Milkmaid Chuski at Juhu beach, hot tea vendors of marine drive, dry bhel at Bandstand, Sulaimaani Chai at Prithvi Cafe, Chili cheese toast at Cafe Mondegar and hot vada pav with lehsun chutney at every street corner.
Spontaneous outings became cherishing memories. Rushing to Prithvi to catch a play, late night parties at Bandra club, booking live performances at Worli joints, attending annual Kalagodha festival, waiting for a sea side table at Pizzeria, and candle light dinner at Juhu or 4 Bungalows, wandering the bargain markets at Crawford, antique and kitsch search tours to Chor Bazaar, junk shopping at Linking and Hill Road, early bird visits to malls to get benefit of the seasonal sale.

Every time my relatives or friends visited from north, I took them to the popular places – Gateway, Marine Drive, Chowpatty, Colaba causeway, Haji Ali, Bandra Bandstand, Juhu beach, Essel World, Amitabh Bachchan's Jalsa and Prateeksha, Shahrukh Khan's Mannat, Elco Panipuri in Bandra, Naturals ice cream, Cafe Leopold and Mondegar and later to Palladium Mall and Bandra Worli Sea link.

During 2005 rains my parents were visiting and while out on city tour we ended up spending the night in a taxi with no hotel room available. We shifted to a local bus in the morning and played cards with others while waiting for the traffic jam to clear, surviving on Parle-G and kindness of residents who permitted us to use their toilets. We reached home almost after 36 hours treading the knee deep waters, carrying on our heads my Dad's luggage who was scheduled to catch a flight that evening but could never reach the airport where anyways no flights were flying. Now we just laugh and wonder at this experience of a life time. My parents simply glad to be there with me even if on the road, rather than worrying back home with no connectivity and assurance of my safety.

I have traversed the length and breadth of this city in search of a home, figuring out BHK, square feet, carpet area, built up area, floor rise, maintenance, sea view, garden view, balcony, lease and rentals to find our first home that met our needs and fulfilled our small dreams. The home which is about us, for us, of us , by us and with us. The home in the noisy city and still away and above the noisy city.

Finally the most cherished thing of Bombay – the misty rains, refreshing monsoons and luscious greenery gushing out of earth, walls, sea, rivers, nallahs, home and even in food… this is the Bombay to remember for. The weekend getaways and road trips to Lonavala, Khandala, Pune, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Lavasa, Alibag, up to Goa just to enjoy the monsoon rains.

This city has been very kind to me making me truly independent. Despite all the crowds, noise and lack of space, it taught me to stand out in the crowds, to make myself heard in the noise and to make my space even in the smallest of flats bursting with people in the thin tall sky scrapers. This was the city where I did many things on my own, without fear, consciousness or loneliness -  watching a film in theatre alone, returning post-midnight in public transport, exploring nooks of the city bazaars without being leched at, traveling alone in local trains and getting off where the heart desired. Not a big deal for a Bombay wala, but something for where I came from.

Over years moving from one city to another, changing houses, college and jobs, my native is where I grew up, but the only place where I come home to is 'Dear Dear Bombay'

A city of memories, moments and mercies. A city for Keepsake. An ode to Bombay akka Mumbai, my home sweet home.

now am humming this true Bambaiyaa gaana…Ha Haa, Ha Ho Ho, Ho Hi Haa Ha Haa / Hm Hm Hm Hm, Hm Hm

Ai dil hai mushakil jeena yahaan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke ye hai bambai meri jaan
Ai dil hai mushakil jeena yahaan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke ye hai bambai meri jaan
Kahin building kahin traame kahin motor kahin mill
Milata hai yahaan sab kuchh ik milata nahin dil
Kahin building kahin traame kahin motor kahin mill
Milata hai yahaan sab kuchh ik milata nahin dil
Insaaf ka nahin kahin naam o nishaan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke ye hai bambai meri jaan
Ai dil hai mushakil jeena yahaan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke ye hai bambai meri jaan
Kahin satta kahin patta kahin chori kahin res
Kahin daaka kahin phaanka kahin thokar kahin thes
Kahin satta kahin patta kahin chori kahin res
Kahin daaka kahin phaanka kahin thokar kahin thes
Bekaaro ke hain kai kaam yahaan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke ye hai bambai meri jaan
Ai dil hai mushakil jeena yahaan
Zara hat ke zara bach keye hai bambai meri jaan
Beghar ko aavaara yahaan kehate hans hans
Khud kaate gale sab ke kahe is ko business
Beghar ko aavaara yahaan kehate hans hans
Khud kaate gale sab ke kahe is ko business
Ik cheez ke hain kai naam yahaan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke ye hai bambai meri jaan
Ai dil hai mushakil jeena yahaan
Zara hat ke zara bach keye hai bambai meri jaan
Bura duniya jo hai kehata aisa bhola tu na ban
Jo hai karta vo hai bharata ye jahaan ka hai chalan
Bura duniya jo hai kehata aisa bhola tu na ban
Jo hai karta vo hai bharata ye jahaan ka hai chalan
Dadageera nahi chalne ki yahaa
Ye hai bambai ye hai bambai ye hai bombay meri jaan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke ye hai bombay meri jaan
Ai dil hai mushakil jeena yahaan
Zara hat ke zara bach keye hai bambai meri jaan
Ai dil hai aasaan jeena yahaan
Suno mister suno bandhu yeh hai bambai meri jaan
Ai dil hai mushakil jeenaa yahaan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke ye hai bambai meri jaan.
Watch and listen the song here

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