After more than a year, Meandering through Mumbai is back. You can read the old ones here and here. During my six-week long internship at a luxury travel magazine in Mumbai, I got to walk around South Mumbai a lot. Mostly it was my pani-puri intrigue guiding me everywhere, other times I found myself agreeing to plans my friends initiated. This is a photoessay compiled thus.
Know that there’s nothing obscure here. Bombay is quite a cliche, by now.
It is the ocean and crowds that sit by it, silently getting conditioned to love the city; it is the humidity and the desperation that comes with it; the conflict that comes with the realisation of being only a particle of hope; the traffic that brings to light the interdependency of this city and its people; the deference of everything that breathes vis-a-vis a sense of freedom and self-sufficiency; the little ironies of class struggle; and accommodative joys of survival everybody is collectively trying to experience through Marine Drive, monsoon, and the Local.
Know that Bombay is an illusion that makes you feel like you’re a part of something big but if you go back and trace your fingers across a world map, you’ll feel quite differently. You might even hate Bombay then.
Know that everybody who lives here has no option but to romanticise Bombay because that is the only way you can survive. Humour might be your second best bet.
Know that Bombay is fast, cruel and rewarding in its own ways.
The Royal Music Collection, Fort: I came across this when I got lost on my way to the station (which is not exactly true because you can’t really get lost in Mumbai, tbh). It’s really just two stalls with hundreds of vinyls just stacked in multiple dusty columns. The music, as you can see, is primarily Hindi-speaking cinema, but there’s some western classical too.
The people here have been selling vinyl records for 25/35years (I’m unable to remember the exact number). They have customers who regularly drop by to update their collection. There’s a special locked trunk kept at the back. It keeps the rare, more pricey records which are brought out only on demand. Khaas maal, special stuff–as one of the owners calls it.
They also sell record players! (I am convinced that one day going to get myself a record player)
Strand Book Store, Fort: I picked up one of the books only to find a cockroach–one that must have been alive for 6-7 months–fall and land on my toe. I did not scream for that is never my instinct, but I did rush out of the store.
When I was younger, my father made me hold a cockroach in a tightly fisted palm and roam around the house for 10 minutes so my fear of cockroaches would disappear.
Verdict: It’s clearly not a very foolproof method.
Dubash House, Fort: This is where my office was. The lift man, Govinda, is a fond memory I take back with me.
I discovered this view in the last week of my internship and I’m rather disappointed that I missed it for five weeks despite facing this every time I stepped out of the lift. What else must I have missed?