Mumbai: Maximum City

Warning: Possibling offensive content. For mature audience only.

I haven’t read Maximum City. But if it means its a city where everything is in access then I don’t have to read the book. Yes, from traffic chaos to piles of money, this city has everything to to upper limit. And hence for freaks like me this city also holds a great potential for enjoyment.

I don’t like to rant about Mumbai the way I do about Pune. Pune is like a meat eating alcoholic Brahman who still claims that he is virtuous and deserves respect from others while Mumbai is a typical tapori (with hanky tied around it’s neck) who is proud of its follies and cares no hoots about others. Pune’s hypocritical character turns me on while mumbai’s offensive stance attracts me.

No one raises eyebrows here over anything. There is no moral policing here. But you are paid in your own currency here if you act smart. This city is for people with lion’s heart or mouse ego. While you are being pulled by the crowd on a train station, the only way you can take revenge is by kicking that guy in shins in those 13 seconds. In those 13 seconds on a busy day, over two thousand people board the train.

I can enjoy this city because I am not a part of the rat race that is going on here. I can leave a local train because it’s crowded. But then there are regular office goers, school students, college students, dabba-waalah’s for whom even 5 minutes delay means a lot. Just looking at their hurry, looking at the rats trying to come first is fun. You may call it my cynicism or sadist nature, but there are some grave truths about life that you face and enjoy it only because you are not at the receiving end.

And there is Cafe Leopold. Where you indulge in glass of chilled Pitcher (a special type of Beer) around white skinned women, so scantily clad that a smart chap (like one of my friends) around can tell you if she is adorned by “Victoria’s Secret” or “Wolford”. (If you dont understand the humor you are not readying the lifestyle magazines with enough curiosity). Gone are the days of white skin superiority we are told but the reason why the brown skinned folks like me come here is our attempt to identify ourself with a section of society that we perceive as “Better”, “Superior” or “Sexy”. Oh no, I am not criticizing, there is nothing wrong in indulging in pure pleasure for few hours when it doesn’t hurt anyone else and if you get to brush your shoulder with some B grade TV actor (still better an actress, brushing the shoulder taken literally) sitting in the corner its another plus point.

I don’t know why I like Gate Way of India. Built to welcome some George V. I don’t like English Kings. They look more like Kings on the playing cards. Reading their history adds to my contempt for them. Me brought up on the stories of Rana Pratap and Shivaji cant imagine a baby faced king travelling in a boat. Still worse Englishmen who built such institutions in our country, which even after 60 years we find find ourselves unworthy of, such Englishmen bow before the baby faced king. Ironie’s of life what else!

But the monumental structure, Hotel Taj, is something that I love to look at. It’s not merely a hotel, with a history of around 100 years, it also represents Indian reply to British superiority. Despite the socialistic government and despite every hurdle the hotel stands there as a crown. 26/11 when 10-12 people from Pakistan were raping the city and hotel Taj in particular, I felt as if my own body part was under attack. It costly for most of us. I may not afford to enter that hotel in recent future (most of my such pessimistic views are proven wrong by time, I had never thought I would posses a mobile phone and laptop either 10 years back). Nor the thousands of poor people who gather around the gateway will ever enter the hotel. But I see middle class families coming with their young kids and showing them “This is Taj, 5 start hotel”. The kid looks at that gigantic structure in awe, who know there might come a spark in the mind of that young mind to enter that hotel one day. It might drive him/her to increase his/her social status to that level one day. That is precisely I like all such structures.

And of course there these hawkers selling interesting things. Right from 5 Samosas for Rs 10 to tender coconut. From keychains to writing your name of a rice grain. What ways to earn money. Confirms my hypothesis that poverty is result of our mindless government control and socialism.

But what we group of friends enjoy the most at this place, besides the cool breeze is the indulgence in admiring true beauty and it’s analysis. As far as I am concerned my filtering criteria of beauty and similar stuff is much higher than everyone else. But then Mumbai is not a place where you behave decently, nor its a place where you need to pretend to be decent. You just walk accepting the truth.

Like in Pune, the city of self perceive righteousness, every girl has to tie a cloth around her face when she goes out. Claiming to protect her face from pollution, it in fact, is either to maintain anonymity while roaming with her boyfriend or to protect herself from the offending eyes of prowlers. Mumbai is drastically different. No one hides anything here, its not worth hiding. Because this city had learned to live with the truth. Like our pot bellied politicians claim, it is not the spirit of the city, it is either it’s helplessness or desperation to move ahead with time. And that is why the people who have different references of time than this city, people like me enjoy here the most.

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