Some things never change.. No matter, how long the time gap, how many generations pass by, what ever changes come over, how much of technology overruns simple life, some things are not meant to change..
I guess my habit of disappearing at times is indeed one of my traits, however, for me it was Bombay, or rather for a big generation now, Mumbai.. Of course it will be a long time before the people who used to call it Bombay are all gone, and Mumbai becomes the standard name, but just like Bombay remaining Bombay, life in Bombay remains life in Bombay.
I recently went for a vaction back home after nearly 15 years, I have had my occassional trip to Bombay but has been only on work, hence it has been the standard office / hotel routine.. Going back home without having to work and on a break was indeed a long time off..
As I went through the standard routine of meeting relatives, aunts, uncles that I had not met for years, it did strike that though a lot had changed, basic life remained the same. There were tons of new flyovers, the Bandra Worli Sealink was a marvel no doubt, however the by lanes remained the same. You had all the international banks in Mumbai, the European ones, the German ones, the French ones, but you still had your SBI’s, CBI’s, IOB’s still standing where they were.. Leave aside the fact that they still had setups that could take you years back in memory, with some not even changing the furniture.
The Jazzy Showrooms of the Volvo’s, the Hyundais, the Mercs, standing next to the Tatas and the Maruti Showrooms.. Of course, competition had changed, it was no longer the dull old Fiat that one would see on the road and the long old time of people searching for a non AC cab, simply due to it being cheaper was long gone.. Call a Cab concepts were a dime a dozen, the Honda’s, the Toyota’s, the Hyundai’s, all running in line with the diplidated Fiat’s that were more than a dime a dozen. Chowpatty Beach / Worli Seaface / Haji Ali, all still there, some with no change, some like Juhu a sight simply to be avoided.
Dining was of course part of the game.. I recall the last time, I went for a Thali / Dosa in Mumbai, four years ago… A good restaurant was 200 Bucks for a thali, 40 bucks for a Dosa… Come 2012, 300+ Bucks for a decent thali, a Dosa at an Udipi restaurant at 60 – 80 bucks.. Ouch.. The road side stalls still there, the sandwitch waala, the bhel puri waala, the dosa waala, and how can I forget the road side Chai stall.. All there, still in the business, still catering to the masses, the people walking out of the train stations and having their first breakfast through them.. Many also having their pre train snacks at the same stall..
Prices no doubt have gone up.. No longer one finds chaai at Re 1, or a sandwitch at Re 4, Amul Butter sandwitches at Re 6, these days, every item is upmarketed. No matter what you have to offer, no matter how wild, there is always a buyer, as long as it is marketed well. Outsourcing is no longer limited to BPO’s, every thing is outsourced. A medical test for blood, you cannot go, no problems sir, we will come to your house, for a fee.. A delivery that you cannot take, we will do it, for a fee..
MNC’s hire BPO’s, BPO’s hire small time entreprenuers, STE’s hire the day / night operators, and they in turn hire the free lancers.. Every one has a price, and the more it gets streamlined, the more expensive it becomes. Of course, it is initself a boon to the economy, as it runs, every one generating their share of the income in Bombay, but, when it comes to life in general, how much of it do people enjoy?
It is simply a run every day.. Residence to the station, station to the Work place, and back.. Hours disappear when commuting, yet people still flock to the Magical land.. One lives farther and farther with every passing year, with people now living a hour off Virar and communting to Churchgate. You spend more than half your life running up and down, without a thought, all trying to get that dream house of a 2/ 3 BHK and living life comfortably.. How many of us ever get to it, no one knows, how many never even reach the start is mind boggling, but yet, the magical lure of Bombay or Mumbai, once in your blood…..
Bombay oh Mumbai..