I used to be a vegetarian. And not just any vegetarian. I was a staunch, unmovebale, People for Animals card-carrying, Maneka Gandhi loyal vegetarian. I have saved cats from being made homeless. I have stopped buffaloes from being slaughtered. That level of vegetarian. I ate veg-ala-Kiev (try it. call me if you are still alive after that) on my own birthday when everyone else around me ate chicken. THAT level of vegetarian.
Then, I came to Mumbai. They delayed my veg roll at an all-animal-food joint called Bade Miyan (if you eat animals and haven’t heard of the place, call an airline and book a ticket and head to behind the Taj Palace Hotel). Delayed it by about 30 minutes. And that minute onwards, I have eaten anything that moves.
But its not just my eating habits that Mumbai has changed.
I came to the city as a just out of business school graduate about three years back. I never had to think about making a living. This city told me to go ahead and make a life. It stood as a living testament to how an entire city can stand on little less than the individual and collective dreams of its people. It showed me how one can be supremely brave and completely helpless at the same time. It showed what the value of time is. It showed what the value of the word coming out of your mouth is. It makes a man out of everyone. And yeah, it taught me how to cook.
Bade Miyan. Colaba Causeway. Linking Road. Sitala Devi Temple. Worli Sea Face. Hazi Ali Juice Centre. The yellow-and-black taxi with the permamently quarter open window. Reclamation Road. Weekend Trips. Dirty Beaches. Business Districts. Vada Pav. Rajput Restaurant. Phoenix Mills. Sports Bar. Hard Rock Cafe. Gokul Bar. Marine Drive. Caddell Road. Dadar TT. Sheetal Chhaya.
But then, life ain’t about those places right? Its about those moments which you will always remember at those places. Its about the faces you will see when you pass by those places for the rest of your life.
The first drunken party at Busaba. The parked Bullet at Fort. The hunt for the dance bar. The burnt mattresses at Wadala. Meeting the ‘favourite girl’ at Sports Bar. Moving into Sheetal Chhaya. Realizing what the Sog is capable of. Chasing the nag to Rizvi Heights. The Ghuwalewali. The pool matches at Phoenix Mills with Gandham. The bike rides with the Pandavas. The walk down Juhu Beach at 4 am that night. The late night FRIENDS shows. The early morning dinner and late night breakfast at Rajput. The chicken cooking sessions at home. The farewell parties.
The love. The hate. The stupidity. The carelessness. The laughter. The tears. The life.