“Vada pao, Vada pao dus rupiya Vada pao. ..” a typical Mumbaikar accent pierced through my sleep and it was then the weather had started becoming gentle towards me, the heat escaped and the damp of the region took over me, consequently, I realized that the train had touched the lands of ethnicity and diversity; Maharastra it was, one of the most connected states in India.
The clock struck 9 in the morning, I unwrapped the blanket debating whether to go and bask in the sun, standing on the doors of the musty train. The next thing I knew, the sun made love to the scars on my face as the humid air spent a quality time with my hair. The train was about to touch Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station and I was already consumed with the smell of rains and humidity that lingered in the gentle Mumbai breezes.
We were six of us, bag packed and vibing, a happy family on a rare vacation, as we reached CST, a cab cornered around and it was a matter of 30 minutes we were in the quarters. The heights of the buildings were the tallest I have known after the NBA players.
The fifth floor, I soaked in the spectacular view, the canopy of pines sheltering the tiresome yet enthusiastic vendors and their borrowed stalls and the impatient and eager to explode clouds which can potentially hold the Maharashtrian audience captivated for a lifetime.
Sundays’ sun which was reluctant to shine brightly allowed us to advance out trip and we made our way to the Western Naval Command headquarters, I did anticipate the glory but what I didn’t anticipate was the unparalleled picturesque formed by the fleet of military ships and tiny boats at distances enough to delude my estimation of their actual sizes. On the lands of the Naval command of world’s seventh largest Navy, one doesn’t have to have a military background to feel enthusiastic with pride running in veins, that’s the extent of effortless channelization of glory of saffrons, whites and greens, it’s simply floating on the surface of limitless and anxious seas.
Shedding the spirit of tricolour, we headed towards Colaba Causeway, nestled in the southern outskirts of Bombay, Colaba Causeway is an everyday carnival and the offerings range from for being for the elite class to the downtrodden, the unparalleled market experience has something for everyone. Continuing the series of shopping experiences, navigating our way through the bustling streets and rack and ruins of buildings, we arrived at the infamous Chor Bazar, resting in the Mumbai’s Muslim district, which has a fascinating history spanning over 150 years. Full of vim and vigour, the thieves’ market is one of the principal tourist attractions of the Indian financial capital.
Next scene of my Mumbai trip have me sparing an evening to take the most awaited route leading to Elephanta caves, the historically significant island off the Bombay coast, situated at a distance of 10km from the Gateway of India, in the vicinity of large Mumbai metropolis, Elephant caves have rock-cut temples dating back to the 5th century CE and the ethnicity draws more tourist than any other site in the city and the suburbs. I stood seeing, motorboats take passengers from Appollo Bunder near the Gateway of India to seek delight in the rich sculptural content dedicated to Shiva Mahadeva. That’s another story for some other day.
It took me a few weeks to hit ‘The Gateway of India’, the major landmark of Bombay, and as I took a ten minute walk facing the sea, it hit me hard; the delay, one should step on the pigeon claimed territory of Gateway of India the instant they arrive at the city and delve into the deluge of thriving marine life and unbelievably blue views of boundless oceans. Across the sea, facing the Gateway of India stood the eminent heritage site of the nation, ‘The Taj Hotel’, the view of the building wounded at its core had me gripped and I was offered no time to stop being fascinated by the deep waters. I stood still, gaping at the heritage wing as the watershed scenes took a tour in my head. The Taj stood tall exhibiting pride and courage, signifying the strength that swallowed screams and muffled cries, the bravery that mended the architecture by wiping the blood off the floor. The dome that once yielded to the flames and collapsed today is the perfect introduction to India’s courage, beauty, bravery and integrity, especially to those who have never been stabbed in the heart of their home, India prays for you all.
As the sun decided to set, the dusk arrived and I was returning back home in the fading light of the day, I glanced over my shoulder for one last time to watch the Hotel’s Palace which made me feel like I had snuck into an episode of colonial India; the chained yet architecturally glorious India. The India that has struggled for freedom, the India that was robbed off its happiness, the India that fall apart, the India that fought back, the India that claimed sovereignty, the India that never gave in to the pain and miseries, the India that is still fighting and will always continue to fight against the terror.