“Mumbai is the sweet, sweaty smell of hope, which is the opposite of hate; and it’s the sour, stifled smell of greed, which is the opposite of love.” – Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram.
Situated on the western coast of India lies a dense urban megacity with a projected population of about 20 million people. Crammed in an area of just about 600 km2, is the city of Mumbai, the financial capital of India. The city with a deep indented natural harbour is truly a traveller’s paradise.
It is a city brimming with multitudes of things, all in perfect harmony with each other at any point of time. The most exquisite cacophony of workers, bankers, office goers, teachers, stock brokers, students, tourists, eunuchs, could be found at the Victoria Terminus station on a Monday morning. The gothic revival architecture transcends the mind back into the Victorian era almost instantly. A mere walk down the road in any direction would lead to a tale screaming history right in your face. The deep smell of sea, the undying relentless feel of struggle, the ever immortal image of marine drive have become synonymous with the island city. The festivities are communal congregations irrespective of religion.
But as they say, there’s always more to this than meets the eye. The life in the city itself comes at a cost of struggle. The city is dominated by one of the most ruthless railway systems that one can travel in. It’s the way of life for those who have been accustomed to it, but could be a herculean task for those who never experienced it. A mere train ride from Victoria Terminus to any suburb at the end of a working day is like a battlefield. On the contrary, there’s an uber rich side of the city that has never seen this struggle.
Where their daily commute is dominated by super luxury sedans, and they are completely oblivious to the “sufferings” of the common man. But asking a city this big to be magnanimous towards its citizens is as vacuous as we could get. The reason sadly is because the citizens are draining the city off its supplies, way more than what the city can offer. But the island city will never stop loving its inhabitants, and the unlimited ever exploding countless individuals burdening it each day.
In conclusion, what do you get when you combine the ostentatiousness of multi-million dollar estates separated by a few blocks from chawls and dingy alleyways? An imaginarium trying hard to fight for life, grasp for air and striving to be relevant in the outward.
By Ameya Godse