It’x Xmas and waking up to the forward messages wishing when someone sent a very Mumbai Santa claus song, for the Mumbaikars..racing down the track in the 12 coach local train….oh what fun is to travel in the 12 coach local trains….Virar fast Virar fast showing no restrain. It couldn’t come at a better occasion, swaying to the tune of Santa and forwarding to half a dozen people just in time to book the Uber, gulping breakfast at M’s home and gulping breakfast, showering before setting on my way to Bandra.
A smooth ride from Goregaon to Bandra, cutting corners on the highway verging from Santacruz to taking shortcuts, swathing the traffic snarls bringing memory lost in a decade past and finally reaching in front of my friend S’s gate. One thing that I absolutely love in the city is the amazing people and just to say I had no change to pay the driver. Call it sheer luck, I stopped one cheerful guy who helped me with the change and joking, “Aap ne mera sara paisa khatam kiya.”
This is Mumbai. The people are amazing and always wearing their hearts on their sleeve. Since, I was back to the city and connecting after long, my bank or PayTm wasn’t yet sorted out, the only thing I could manage wasn’t digital or cashless but pure cash.
I pinged my friend. She told about being out and asked whether I am at her home. Not yet, I replied. Since it will take S quite some time meeting me, I took a walk at Bandra, plodding my steps towards the slum side of the city, becoming attuned to the dingy houses and asked a guy for a chai. He coldly told it’s over. I walked past a temple and a church standing tall side by side, rang the temple bell and offered some prayer before trudging past my friend’s building and the opposite one Residence where the whos whos of Bollywood lives, a certain flamboyant Mr Karan Johar.
Spotted one mobile tea shop and basically means huge tin kettle and served in plastic cup that I hate and overheard a conversation between some mobile hawkers selling everything from toothpaste to nails and combs. This is one aspect about India and cities like Mumbai that too in Bandra West to see such humans with their carts ambling from one place to another. Fuck this fancy description in juggling words together in a knot. I perched myself to the wall, checking my mobile to get a feel of Bandra and clicking pics as starting craving for coffee, dived straight to one place called Out of the Blue. You gotta check this place which in some time would give me the priceless Xmas memories of life.
Coffee ordered with a cake and some Karaoke songs-must say the music dragged me to the place-and waited for my friend when finally decided to take an exit route, a walk on the bustly Bandra Road within walking distance of Carter Road promenade. My friend gave a misscall when I saw her walking with her darling daughter. A gentle hug and asking, “Kahan Jaana hai?” before chiding me why on earth I left the place, with showing a friendly slap on my face.
She’s someone with persuasion and we wanted to sit in the garden when the live music was playing. Bad signal! The place was already booked and finally we settled inside.Not someone to be bugged, she waked straight towards the waiter to coax him to get us a place outside because of the aircon inside and of course, the music and the people. Madam won hands down and we finally got a place to sit.
I am bad at ordering food and asked her to do the go ahead when both decided for veg starters and non veg main course with of course, rum flowing Bacardi and Old Monk. How about that for a perfect cum lethal combo! Needless to say, I swear by Old Monk always. The hip and cool, jazzy crowd swinging to the music and of course on popular demand for retro Hindi chartbuster made it an enthralling affair to remember.
The star of course is our young friend S’s dotting daughter and just imagine she got some books as a gift for Xmas, was unfazed by music or the people, heads buried in her books. An absolute rockstar little H is and how I wish she becomes a best-selling author one day for she has it in for her with her brimming talent that very few at her tender age of 8 can have, from fiction to writing lyrics and poetry.
Yum food, alcohol, music, and snapped with video shooting the crowd together with conversations made it one of the best Xmas I ever had. You gotta check Out of the Blues, Off Carter Road at Bandra, and the dude crooning the songs, from English chartbusters to the retro Hindi songs, from the 50s to the 60s with the public swooning and gyrating to the tunes made it an enthralling outing. I never had it so good in the city and kudos to my friend who made sure that I was having the best times.
The ambiance, cool crowd, and music was like a trace of sort with everyone drenched to its tune and singing alone, shouting once more that we didn’t realize that time flitting past us. This is the city vibes likes my friend S once told and Bandra is one such place offering such high energy, exuding seamless happiness. This is how good friends bonding with each other talk endlessly even meeting after less than a decade making deep conversation. It led me realizing to prioritize such meaningful friendship and relationship with people. Two pegs of Old Monk and once we were done. Can you imagine what we did?
My friend who is a leading yoga teacher in the city supervised some of the asanas that I am supposed to do for my yoga project. Can you believe it? After downing dark rum, I was obviously struggling and the friend turning into teacher, telling me, no this asanas is not acceptable if you were in my class. Finally, she suggested some variations putting some yoga blocks and easier poses for me to perform while telling to learn them well, even if it means taking some more tue, with 4 asanas a week. Like a good student, I listened.
It was time to say bye and as I hailed the rickshaw taking a turn, verging towards the magnificent Carter Road, exuding a city vibes with the majestic Mumbai crowd walking. It was quite a sight seeing throng of crowd taking a walk and enjoying at sunset time, lending positive energy that something huge will unfurl for me in this city. Mumbai has always been special to me and grateful for such friends. I feel truly blessed.
On the steps of Bandra station, can be challenging to cut a swathe in the traffic and got down to get myself a bracelet and my mobile laminated. As I spoke to the guy, one thing that touched me when he told me to pray that there is no lockdown again as it will bring down his small business of laminating phones and selling covers since there were some rumors at that point. He told the mobile that I am using will perhaps take him an entire year to do such savings. I felt uncomfortable on how people struggle to make it in the city. It occurred to me how shaky and unpredictable life has become post covid and assuaged his fears telling not to worry, things will not come to a standstill again.
My Xmas was far from over and spotted a bar when I popped in for a solo Old Monk before walking towards the station, queuing up at Bandra station and hopping into the crowded local with backpack carrying heavy laptop and finally jerked my way outside. What a trip it’s been from partying to struggling my way in the Bombay locals.
As it’s said, Mumbai is truly the city of extremes and finally reached home-i mean my host- to find myself singing the songs, a tale about happy moments spent. I was truly happy on the day for there are some emotions that can’t be plainly expressed. Just a tune, a smile and let it sink inside.