There are few places that evoke such conflicting emotions in me.
Bombay. Mumbai. A smorgasbord of contrasts. The diversity will at once overwhelm you and consume you.
I was watching a Hindi movie today on Netflix and those images! They are not exaggerated. The crowds, the dust, the slums with the high-rises in the background, the people in Bentleys rolling down their windows to buy a second hand copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. The lone tree, parched, waiting for the Mumbai monsoons. The only reason it is still there is because some enterprising person put orange tilak on it and now the tree has suddenly become holy. The huge Ganesha statues before the immersion during the festival are thronged by processions dancing to Bollywood numbers with suggestive lyrics. Everyone in a hurry in the morning. This reminds me of London, that same sense of urgency, a false purpose.
And me. Standing there. Taking it all in. In awe at being excluded from this but also amazed that I am very much part of it, contributing to those throngs of people. That surge of emotions during the first rains, a successful outing for the Indian cricket team, the Elections. Wow.
That person walking with me because it was after 10 PM and it seemed like an unsafe neighbourhood.
That person removing a stone from the road so that my car could pass through.
That person who let me go without paying because I didn't have change, trusting that I would pay him back.
That person who was my cook, who had tears in her eyes because she would miss me, miss cooking for me.
That person who was my landlord who wished me love and luck.
Mumbai, you have been such a wonderful chapter in my life. You were instrumental in teaching me how to be independent, responsible, free. You primed me for London more than you will ever know. You have prepared me for life.