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Xmas brunch and friends at Bandra

December 25


Bandra, Mumbai

It’x Xmas and waking up to the forward messages wishing when someone sent a very Mumbai Santa claus song, for the 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.



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Mumbai Tales: Introspecting Solo at the Bar

December 24,

Goregaon/Infinity Mall, Malad

I’m introspecting about life and wondering what to do on Xmas eve while there were initial plans to catch with a friend for dinner where we wanted to have a group night out at Bandra. Unfortunately, two of my friends chickened out and since my friend S who suggested the idea was also dead tired with her course, the plan got canned that was the best thing to do. So, we decided to catch up the next day for Brunch.

Earlier during the day, I did some shopping at Zudio which is a brand offering affordable clothes, three times cheaper than what you get in regular malls, a place that I strongly recommend for the quality offered, and later attended the Hindi Awareness course. After all, it was Xmas and I was in no mood to sit around, wanting to hang out at some happening place in the city. My host M wasn’t too keen to go out like I told and had a few phone calls first with Adi and another friend, and before that, took a walk at Goregaon East, getting some pastries and snacks. Celebration times or not, I love the city mood and was drooling with the vibes in that part of the city. with that part of the vibe in the city.

To put it simpler, I wanted to party and have some drinks when setting up quite late post 7 p.m. that was quite a task to hail a rickshaw while trudging on the bustling road. The feeling of being royally ignored by the three-seater sent me back to my college days. Finally, hailed a rick to finally get on board at Infinity Mall, Malad. Wandering aimlessly at the mall is a favorite pastime and that’s how I discovered Hippopola which is such a cool pub and quite affordable be it alcohol or starters. I really enjoyed the time to sit all by myself when the introspection started. Trust me on that, the ME time is important as it gives perspective and is something we all should do to ponder about life.

I was wondering about the past year that unfurled right in front of me and quite one lingering on the extreme where never had the bad and good in equal measure. And, when I thought love had struck which it did, it was quite confusing, complex and complicated shit with too much of an emotional meltdown. Trust me, it doesn’t pay to lose one head like that. One thing that many of us don’t realize and we often make this mistake of making someone our anchor in life.

This is something a friend whom I consider very close to my heart, whom I respect loads, and who has always given me seamless, happy vibes told me. It struck me a couple of days earlier as I told her about a close friend and girl I am in love with. That’s when my friend made me realize when she told me not to make anyone ever an anchor in life and got me thinking about how easily we get attached.

Just imagine Xmas was unfurling and I was sipping my Kingfisher beer all alone at the bar, ordering starters and gyrating to the music without getting conscious. There was an aha moment that lent clarity to life when I realize that there is more to life than just focusing on one person. Enjoy the happy moments spent together and it was probably time to move on, by taking a step back, shifting the frame, and playing the observer. It was really therapeutic as I sat alone with myself and my thoughts, something we all should do from time to time. How little time or space do we give to ourselves?

The Me time helped to give perspective slouching at the bar, filled with people, and an effort to be aware of my thoughts, random, imaginary and real, albeit the anxiety issue. We were ushered into the Xmas time with the music and watching the cool kids enjoying themselves with their friends while I gulped my beer, the happy moments for company.

I absolutely loved what I was doing in Mumbai, most of the time in the company of friends and the other with myself. It was time to push off and walk out of this wonderful pub, as I found my way downstairs, took some pictures of the Xmas decorations.

M has been giving me a couple of calls and messages, where finally I reached home post-midnight after spending a lovely time with myself and getting perspective. I told her that there is more to the person and just got the realization. She said, of course, and after that I was chided for being late with certain things, giving me a moral lesson in all fun and chatting randomly about friends before heading off. Of course, tomorrow would be another beautiful day, as in Xmas.

I shall put a tag cherished time in Mumbai Xmas.

#CherishedXmas #CherishedMumbai

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Mumbai: Fun Xmas family time at mall


Goregaon/Inorbit Mall Malad

December 23-24, 2022:

Mumbai has seeped into Xmassy mood where the city lights are painted red swinging to the vibes. electrifying and jazzy. Shopping malls, Mumbai freeways and highways, and banners on bustling streets. all glittering and people wearing red hoodies and costumes.

Mumbai is one city celebrating Xmas in a unique and unabashed manner, with the city lights all glitter and the crowd wearing red caps making it vivid. That’s how we do it in the city of dreams and just to think we are two days away yet the frenzy has just started.

We booked a Uber cab. Oops1 Sorry! My friend M did. The three of us, M, aunty, and Me sat in the cab in the gentle Goregaon evening as the engine revved up past the shades of trees and swerved, left to right, cutting corners and diving straight into the mad traffic, beating the rush to reach the shopping mall. The beautiful Xmas decorations and lighting on trees and saplings, entrance, pillars, bulbs, train toys for kids at Inorbit mall, Season’s Greetings beautiful decked welcoming everyone made it a joyful affair.

We wanted to take a selfie, the three of us Meghna, aunty, and Me. Yours truly is so bad at zooming and moving the phone camera in an attempt to get everyone in the frame that M chided me and after an unsuccessful attempt, we finally went with the best among my worse selfie attempts.

We were having the time of our lives where the person with the most enthusiasm and most fun-loving among us was aunty cutely prancing like a child and all joyful for pictures. So much to learn from aunty who surely knows how to enjoy and without being conscious of the world. The photo session has just started with each one of us taking solo turns, mom-daughter, me-aunty and me-friend M getting us clicked behind a Xmas sapling and an aesthetically carved shelter kinda room with the Santa lights and decoration where kids are playing inside with lights of different colors panning.

It turned out to be quite something with a huge crowd swarming and already taking their places and plodding our way in making it quite a task to get snapped with human interference. Finally, we moved steps ahead and made do with the background of the decoration. That was the start of the fun we were having in this outing. We were on a spree where M was adamant that we click loads and loads of pics, matlab got me standing in front of the vast Inox logo and posing since I love movies, she reasoned.

Of course, did I tell till aunty and M went for shopping, I sneaked inside a pub having a Kingfisher beer and when M called, I already had two glasses making excuses about looking for some books. That was not untrue yet didn’t enter the Crossword bookshop and later M helped me choose gifts for the darling daughter of a friend.

Trudging leisurely at the mall, the Xmas celebration went full swing with a parade of Santa all decked up in red, face paintings splaying like a live circus, the colorful masks gyrating to the drum beats, Santa mounted on the gate’s arch, the snowflakes, soap bubbles, saplings laden with lighting effects makes for a visual treat. The parade occupied every inch and stair at the mall much to the delight of everyone as I tried to shoot them on the phone and only could manage a few moments since they were moving fast and by the time I flipped my phone, the Santa convoy was at a disappearing distance. Nonetheless, we were having fun, the countless pictures taken and of course zeroing in on a place for food, the cool starters coming with tiny pieces of bread, and of course the main course. I choose Chicken biryani and the time has come to break the three-month strict no-non-veg fasting. We were not yet done and as we got down, the three musketeers went on a picture spree at the mall.

I tried an SRK pose outside the mall, thrusting the arms backward rather unsuccessfully where M turned my photographer for the day and tried a couple of times to get it right. Need better luck next time. It wasn’t coming right and blame it on the lack of flexibility or the old monk and beer that I sneaked out to have. A picture clicked right in front of the flower pot so much that my friend asked why am posing in front of the flower. I was getting crazy as M insisted on taking loads of my pictures. We took a few pictures of aunty posing at her best and standing in the same frame with her. It was so much fun and having the best times of our lives at Inorbit.

As it was the time to say tata and goodbye to the beautiful Xmas celebration that had just started and enthralled everyone from grown-ups to kids, one would be tempted to say that everyone was spoiled post-lockdown. It was my first Xmas outing and that’s the way we do it in India with so much spark, celebrating every moment of Santa. Outside the mall, there was a toy train offering seamless joy to our young friends and of course a replica of the London bus, turning me into an enthusiastic kid trying to get a decent capture. This is always difficult since one cannot be running behind the electric engines flipping past the visitors and catching up with shooting it across angles.

I wasn’t done and the last one was an attempt to do a video as we walked under the shade of glittered arc decorated with shiny Xmas light. I was absolutely enamored with the decorations in Maximum City. M was walking fast and was much ahead of me and aunty where each one of us was busy doing our Xmas things, walking, taking shots, or meandering thoughts when I picked up speed looking for my friend. She was spotted at a distance and I started filming, calling her and she couldn’t hear since she was far away. Finally, prodded the reluctant person to wave and wish Merry Xmas in front of the camera. Mission successful!

I can’t remember the last time that would have so much fun during Xmas and something M and aunty made possible, in making sure that we all would be having tons and tons of fun. I could sense the good vibe, exuberance, and energy flowing with good friends. Every single moment was cherished from taking selfies, tons of pics where M made sure I was in the frame, food, and enjoying the mall trip. Such are the Mumbai days.

Mumbai is one city that really knows how to make Xmas celebrations worth it, the crowd swinging to malls and pubs, wearing Santa caps and like I say, that’s how we do it in the city. Happy that I could reconnect with my city after a decade and yes, believe it or not, it was after 10 years of being back in India. The best person who knows how to enjoy herself is aunty and she is someone who can give younger people like us a lesson on how to be childlike and make the most of every moment. As we walked out of the mall, there was a cute dog and aunty started playing with the creature, clapping her hands and turning into a child playing with it. Like I said, aunty was having so much fun at the mall, and one of my best moments on how to let one’s hair down and make the most, trusting and offering love, something we young people should all learn from. I started clicking aunty because such moments should be captured. Aunty is a superstar.



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Mumbai: Goregaon to Bandra

December 21-23

I am having a blast in the city. The sweltering heat in Mumbai has one rule: Stay cooped inside and venture out only to enjoy the afternoons or evenings in what I have a habit of calling ‘go out’ during the day. This is Mumbai for you. A dinner invite is fixed at my friend S’s home in posh Bandra which I am looking forward to since we will be meeting after a gap of 8 long years.

I can’t wait to see her 8-year-old daughter all grown up and to think never got an opportunity to see H when she was born. My host and friends with whom I’m staying, M and T advised against venturing out after 5 pm since it’s peak time to travel in Mumbai locals. Yet! It’s a challenge for me and has every intention not to miss traveling on the train.

The sleep pattern has been unusual and been waking up much earlier where the first thing I would do is head to the balcony which became a favorite spot and lent serenity in my host’s house, a routine of sorts in admiring the sun rising, thick heat, the sky, and traffic at Goregaon, of course, the metro line. Staying with the family has its own perk and breeds a sense of belonging and of course our chat with my couple’s friend and aunty. Lunchtime is always the best when we speak about anything and everything about life, the city, food, and life in general. So much we spoke and bonded with each other and I was loving every moment in the city. Of course, enjoyed morning tea with aunty and we would be speaking a lot about cultures, languages, the city, and my option of shifting back to Maximum City.

The afternoon nap made sure that I got ready quite late and me being me, was in for the peak hour for which enjoyed walking the elongated path at Goregaon East, adorned by the trees nestled on both sides of the road, apartments and schools. I stopped for a cup of chai and continued walking past the lineup of shops and restaurants, clicking pictures on the bustling Mumbai road, rick and vehicles screeching the way. There is a certain beauty in Mumbai and irrespective of city or suburbs, the powerful vibes and energy that it exudes seamlessly, brew in unlimited happiness.

Chaos lends so much beauty to the city’s charm. I couldn’t stop myself from sipping countless cups of chai and knew deep inside it’s gonna be special. After all, it was the first ride in the locals after 10 years. Was I worried about the bustling crowd of the locals? Of course not! Excited! Yes!

I trudged the stairs at Goregaon station, walked briskly on the path to reach Platform No.1, and got down waiting for the Bandra local to approach slowly. It was time to use the life skills that the city once taught me a decade back to flock inside the crowded train and like a hunter swirl inside. The human sweat pocked next to each other when it was time to make friends with new stations as the train ambled towards Ram Mandir station, Jogeshwari, and in a matter of five stations, time to stop at Bandra. Not too much of a battle and not bad wriggling my way out. It felt awesome and a feeling of never losing the life skills learned over the years that lasts forever.

A feeling about never leaving the city and the time is right to explore a bit of Bandra, straddling aimlessly, as I see renovation outside the iconic station, crossing the busy roads, walking along with the mad vehicles, and overcoming the fear of crossing getting back the confidence.

True, the traffic is crazy yet it doesn’t take long to overcome the mind games to become a pro. That’s Mumbai in a matter of minutes. How about cracking that? A glass of falooda, cutting chai, ATM trip, and finally hopped on a rickshaw to my Bandra destination after a couple of them refused.

Confidence was back in mastering the art of crossing the road and zigzagging my way. Couldn’t be more proud of me.

A realization that Google map is the new thing, whether commuters or drivers, as the maven hands at work, flips the vehicle from left to right to finally find its way, calling my friend in asking for directions and finally landing in front of her building. Posh Mumbai! A horde of security waited and asked me to sign the visitor’s book for once I thought my friend is the new celebrity in town when told about the floor number and the dude telling, no need to sign…you meeting a celebrity right.

I pressed the lift to the sixth floor to see her waiting at the door as she led me inside her spacious cum cozy apartment. As we spoke and sip chai, I was amazed at her transformation as a person, the poise, tone, and pause in her voice, the charm, and grace…finally got to meet her lil munchkin and what a chatterbox she is and they made a gracious lady out of her. I was already bonding with the child and she showed me her songs, poems, and stories that she wrote in her notebook, asking me what did I understand. Pretty awesome seeing such a creative child, weaving tales and so enthusiastic that she’s ain’t satisfied with her compositions.

We took a walk around Bandra, crossing the road like crazy and matter of minutes ambled to Carter Road, reminiscing about life, the COVID fear we’ve left behind, her deep and intense work into spirituality or life in general, aspirations, need to be happy and individuality making for an interest conversation. I can’t believe she’s the same girl that I met a decade back at work.

The stillness in the night, I was enjoying every moment and felt magical looking at the gentle sea, people sitting at the promenade and the happiness in being at Carter Road…the first time I visited the place as she’s been narrating how along with her husband they would be running every morning. The very thought sends a chill…me and running early morning in the sweltering heat would be nigh impossible.

Bonding over dinner at her place and chatting about yoga, life with her mother-in-law and dinner makes the sumptuous dinner a regal affair. The next day, I spent the early morning chatting with her daughter, playing with her when she was on a mission to make a tent with steel poles, speaking to Alexa turning into a kid myself, laughing and behaving like one in the company of the little one.

That’s the power of small children who teaches us adults so much without being conscious or fear of being judged, unlike adults putting labels. My young friend was asking me what I wanted to be as a kid and games I was playing or friends made. I replied, “Actor..then it’s too late.” Can you imagine her reaction? It’s never too late in following your dreams…. maybe you didn’t try too hard to make friends…you should have gone to say Hello!” Kids, can teach us grown adults so much with a pure heart and thought.

A trip to Linking Road as my friend S dragged me to buy a laptop not before convincing me not to go for the expensive Macbook and we finally settled for this Lenovo I’m typing on. Money saved. She reasoned that there is no point going for Macbook since I won’t be using 90 percent of the features or apps and after that coffee and clicking pictures before being back to her apartment for lunch. As we parted ways, I took a couple of pictures and indulged in an expensive haircut at Bandra. Why not? After all, I was in Mumbai and this indulgence was for something since I was convinced that something big gonna happen for me in Maximum City…I could feel this incredible city energy and vibes…just knew it.

If you think the drama was done after straggling in the overcrowded local and struggling to get out of the train, think again! It was still not over and lost my way….had a cup of piping hot chai and Vadapav, the reckless rickshaw drivers screeching their vehicles aimlessly and straddling past the hawkers, stalls and shops to realize I just lost my way and steps taking me towards Goregaon West rather than East. Google Maps wasn’t helping, turning right, left, and walking straight so much that my host M called asking where I was. That was quite a ride and getting inside the subway thinking I finally found the way. I went back and forth, twirling in the same spot. It felt like finding the right way, to be lost in the lanes leading to the apartment, caught in a maze of sort.

Finally, took a rick to land at my friend’s apartment so much during dinner and lunchtime, aunty joked that I have explored by heart the entire Goregaon.

This is Mumbai for you, the city teaching innumerable lessons in a single day.



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The place we call Home

Home need not necessarily be a place or geographical location. It’s about feeling, emotions and lending a sense of identity.

It is very subjective going beyond jingoism or boundaries, where Home has always been very personal or personal feeling in my case, albeit very few arguments or logic should make the cut. In my case, it has always been the place I identify with and need not be the place you are born or rather a place we identify with, offering seamless emotions, and lending a sense of comfort and belonging. The places that I call Home have always been Mumbai and Pune.

It’s been three months as I count the days on the calendar since I hit base in Mumbai on December 18 and as I type on March 22, looking back on the days on what became the perfect holiday and surpassing my expectations in reconnecting with friends that I call family and my people. I am already missing home like hell. Dates don’t matter yet I have this uncanny habit of going date wise on what I did, whom I met, traveling by local trains, wriggling my way with sweat and beads, the familiar crowd gone berserk or mad. This is the feeling I get about home.

True, Mumbai is a chaotic city by all standards yet the vibes it gives are something very few cities or probably none can afford. The level of confidence it gives as I crossed the roads, moving with the crazy traffic gives a sense of thrill. Love and longing, walking on the elongated path, the feeling of being liberated where all maladies or overwhelming emotions were lain to rest. The kind of connect nurtured and felt with places I call home. I love the local trains, the crowds thronging in Maximum city, the familiarity, Vadapav, scent, seamless emotions of food, life at high altitude, craziness, and the sky rise. Of course, one thing I missed in the city is the disappearance of the iconic black and yellow cabs that lent a ubiquitous charm to the city. Thankfully, the rickshaw is still in the city and the street vendors from Bandra to Goregaon where I mostly commuted during the three weeks.

This time was all about reliving a new experience, making new memories, and moving away from the regular South Bombay to be perched in the suburbs at Goregaon that has its own indelible charm, ringing another facet to the city and of course, the vibrant Bandra that has its own vibes being a Bombay of its own. There is no limit in Mumbai. What has changed into the Mumbai that I knew and the Mumbai that it has become? Nothing, except Uber perhaps. The traffic remained the same, and so are the people making the city that it became. Covid? It was the time I dropped the mask and didn’t sense anything of that sort except the initial fear and while speaking to one of those guys laminating my mobile who told me to pray that there is no lockdown again, a raging fear about the city closing down and bringing down business. It says a lot about apprehensions looking at this guy surviving on the bare minimum and speaking about connecting the loose ends. That’s the beauty about Mumbai, the street vendors at Linking Road, from Chappals to juice or tea sellers or bracelets add zing to the true spirit of a city forever on the move.

A tale of two cities, I am now tempted to change the title and yet am torn in my love for both Mumbai and Pune which became my first home. If I call myself a Pumbaikar, I have to concede the title is borrowed from an old print article for people confessing their love for both Pune and Mumbai. I couldn’t recognize the city where I first started my life, Pune, and surprisingly, the level of development sprawling as the Uber took me to the hotel was a surprise.

The city underwent a complete transformation and the many days spent in the city cooking a beautiful storm. Over the coming days. I witnessed a city influx with the high rises, malls, eateries, and building springing making it a new experiment for me where Pune was no longer left far behind in cities like Mumbai. The same place that I would once travel to on my scooter at Baner and Balewadi could no longer recognize and at times felt lost.

Balewadi in Pune.

It felt like being thrust into the unknown and was personally all about connecting with the new version of the city. Like a friend told me, the next time you come, you would not recognize the latter part you witnessed. A reminder about being open to change and enjoying the ride from one part of the city to the other as I looked back to the initial days and the beautification of the city. It felt like I was reliving a new life and every moment counted, busy meeting so many friends. That’s what touching ground ultimately feels like.

True, there were changes. Old places made way for new ones in the city. A pinch felt in the heart seeing some places disappearing yet there were new ones sprawling. The small shops elongated on FC Road still stood tall yet our college hang-out Savera was no longer there and its place was a new coffee outlet and art gallery. Yet, one can see the beautification of the city laden between greenery and lush trees. Disappointments stood tall with joy. Home is a feeling. Change is what we should embrace identifying with the city, excluding the seamless and the connection remaining intact.

Like I was telling a friend, I can travel 10 times to a place say Goa, and stay in the place am currently staying put yet there are only 2 places I can live. It’s Mumbai and Pune, the places I call home, and drool over this comfort level. One can be born in a place yet may not call home or one’s country since there is no sense of identity. The reverse is true.

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Date with a Psychiatrist

My stomach is crawling among a posse of half a dozen hungry bellies. I’m assuming. It’s almost one pm on a Saturday afternoon. I read quite a bit on my Kindle app and deactivated my Facebook account a day before since the aim is to concentrate on one thing at a time for that matter while keeping away from WA Groups. There was a protruded belly gentleman who stopped the lift I was in to sneak in, and beyond exchanging a few niceties to realize only we came for the same doctor. He registered himself first before me. A bad signal as I saw familiar faces of doctors and among them was someone who popped in, was least expected, and praying she didn’t spot me. Thankfully, she walked past and didn’t recognize me.

A date with a Psychiatrist! How many of you fancy that and a second medical appointment in less than three days where am in the quest to confirm the degree of my Depression! After a brief period of happiness, there were signs in the form of emptiness, tears, and morose resurfacing, I couldn’t afford to neglect my mental health. I need to read the body signs where the first step was to dive towards discomfort equals to growth.

In today’s times, it’s important to be able to choose a good therapist, Psychologist, or Psychiatrist, something which is quite complex. There is G my friend and therapist whom I was lucky to find since she’s been counseling me for some time now, participating in workshops together with fellas participants where we have now become friends and after a few counseling sessions, she suggested that I see a Psychiatrist.

To be honest, I’ve been dilly-dallying to consult a Psychiatrist since the last year and previously since there were concerns when it comes to administering drugs, read anti-depressants. I fear side effects and in particular gaining weight. I waited too much and decided to take the plunge this week. I choose to go with therapy since there have been underlying issues faced for quite some time, a case in point being emotional meltdowns happening from time to time where the previous week before, a friend killed herself and got me thinking about the need to get help. There have been suicidal thoughts. Just that, I never tried taking my life nor picture tools to pursue such ends.

Also, the thought of meeting a Psychiatrist can be overwhelming for various reasons and thankfully I took the plunge. Happy and proud that I settled on the doctor which is a major leap of faith, conquering the demons, bearing intimate details, or for that matter, embracing discomfort to push myself. A headstart has just been made and proud that I did it. Sorry for being pompous.

As we speak about the need to see a therapist or Psychologist and Psychiatrist, it’s important to look well and in my case, the medical professional I chose was based on her impressive CV cum credentials and knowledge. It was quite a week and waited for long at the hospital. Finally, my turn came to meet the Doctor and decided to go with the flow since it can be overwhelming bearing one’s intimate details to a stranger. I made some notes in my notebook just in case, it skipped my mind to finally tell her. What I like is how gentle the Doctor was and allaying my fears effortlessly while prescribing some tests and herbal medicines to start with. Yes! For the time being, I am not on antidepressants. It works for me and allays my fears. I came out happily as I strode out of the medical room, got some coffee at the hospital and indulged in non-veg food, took the train, and went shopping.

During the same week, I had the weirdest of conversations with another Psychiatrist that led me to consider an alternate opinion and finally settled on the above. Sitting in a hospital with bated anticipation can be a stressful exercise and quite tricky. I hate the waiting time and thankfully was a private hospital with no injection tray paraded in front while head buried in my Kindle. This has always been a savior for that I got for half the price in Pune and my bag always has a book and kindle that keeps me company.

I’m looking forward to a few prescribed tests and a second outing in three weeks. I am sure it’s a long battle dealing with anxiety and gearing up for it. Sometimes, we just need to trust the process and go with the flow. I couldn’t be more proud of myself for going ahead and keeping the belief that can ring in discomfort which in itself paves the way for the first step toward growth. Learning, unlearning, and relearning to take heads on the challenges to keep pushing myself. We just need to believe and be ready for the change, no matter what.



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Basking in Holi colors, and The She

As we celebrate Holi and International Women’s Day, it occurred to me how irregular I have been in the blogging space and there was a time when I wouldn’t miss any occasion for that matter in penning my reflections on every celebration worth its name.

It was quite confusing this time when we speak on the day Holi is being celebrated with some saying March 7 while the official day we do it in India falls today March 8. It coincides with the day we celebrate Women’s Day. This time, I was feeling a bit harrowing and morose the time Holi was approaching and did smear some color sprinkles yesterday. Thankfully today I am better, got three different colors Red, green, and yellow to make it a diverse affair.

Feeling happy today on the day we are celebrating Holi and International Women’s Day since the festival of colors remains one of my favorite where goodness and unexpected luck is ushered into my life. The day holds significance on a personal level since I am going to take a very important decision for my personal health and well-being, after dilly-dallying for a long time. So, Holi symbolizes the lucky charm for me.

Coming back to the confusion on Holi, I saw many celebrities and people celebrating Holi yesterday with colors-it was Choti Holi and Holika Dahan-and that’s ok. I stay on an island where many Indians have migrated to and they choose to celebrate Holi on March 7 and me being me would prefer to do things the old, Indian traditional day, the way we do it in India. That’s who I am in real life. I don’t believe in adaptation and as a true Indian, will stick to how we do it back home.

There are many Holi tales from the time I was in college during the Pune days and look back fondly to those days, right from us being driven out of our college hang out and the waiters giving us tea outside, where we gulped chai on the pavement. Blame it on colors. Let’s not go too much into detailing and sink in the beauty of colors, smeared on the face. I shall play in the evening since there is an important appointment.

I love the idea of double celebrations with colors smeared on Women’s Day. Let’s celebrate all the women, whether they are homemakers or working professionals, in metro cities, urban or in far-flung villages, stay at home for they are the ones adding zing and colors to our lives. Quick reflection. I think in today’s times’ women still face the ire of patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny where there are names calling.

There are so many things as we speak about everyday patriarchy. Remember the film Thappad? It’s not a slap but it comes in the form of insult in everyday life that women face, the names calling or tag of not being a daughter-in-law and rather a monster-in-law who stole the good, dutiful son from the mother or family. Why on earth do we use the perverted label? She is a mother, daughter, daughter-in-law or sister? Why can’t it be? She Is…who she chooses to be rather than adhering to your stupid society’s law. A woman has desires, it can be career, personal, intimate or sexual. Yet, her freedom cannot and shouldn’t be tampered with. What we do is ascribe meaning and this whole name calling in modern times since the insult feeds out the ego.

I think tokenism is the last thing that a woman needs as we speak about the International Women’s Day celebration where we should let her be who she is, the freedom to choose what she wants and it’s not for us to decide all that. Sometimes back, I saw someone posting a picture on Linkedin with a lady posing in the kitchen, with patriarchal inference from a chakki to a grinder on the role of technology. This is something many of us blithely ignore on how damaging it can be and from a meme or advertisement where you are painting the picture of a woman as fat. This is beyond ridiculous and shows the ingrained patriarchy and sexism still prevalent in today’s times. It trickles into every aspect of life from the home to relationships and the workplace.

Only if we could do away with that, I believe that we, men and women would be in a better place to speak about equality.



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Jazzing to travel conversations

The unusual and random conversations make us click as strangers where you are free to call it by whichever name, be it a brief encounter, meet by chance or a nameless path conjured. The beauty of such chance meet is that it happens when we least expect them and they just do, ringing in so much joy whether it’s at airports, planes, coffee shops, train rides, or malls, and can happen anytime.

There is no foreplay or seduction game, and attraction is just powerful vibes shared by strangers or just none, plain happy moments experienced. I had one such interaction with one lady V and her son during our two hours trip from Dubai to Mumbai on our Emirates plane. Normally, I wonder on the kind of co-passenger the person would keep moving in their seat making me uncomfortable, speaking a lot to an irritating level, or just a nice person beyond Hi or Hello and no such thing, I either sleep or surf on my ICE, killing time.

Such conversations, I call them springing out of the blue, exude beauty when it comes in an effortless manner and convey positive vibes. Easy going, no effort made in speaking to each other and flowing like a gentle river. I love chatting with such people; the moment one feels an effort is made or forced into conversations, time to back out. Forced conversations can never be real or rooted. As human beings, we have a need to connect with people where sometimes we get it right and many times, not so much.

What adds beauty embedded in such layers of conversations is you don’t add each other on WhatsApp nor there is an exchange of phone numbers. I call it, in the moments of making the most where plain strangers connect with each other. There is no motive or attachment. Perhaps, a momentary attraction that flits in the air or lost in the huge plane crowd. I think this is what makes such conversations real and down to earth. There is no pretense or impressing upon each other.

Easy, gentle, and words flowing. You are not protecting yourself for there is no threat to the personal self like it would be in many cases. I absolutely love such travel conversations, discussing everything under the sun right from Mumbai to Dubai, traveling that serves an education on what we can share, far away from our troubles or relationship fuck ups that keep cropping in the life of any individual. Of course, mutual respect or not trespassing on each other’s boundary helps to sail through.

Mulling on such conversations and forming part of the happy energy and vibrations that we take along as we remember fondly our countless trips on travel, lending to the added joy. Travel makes for education. Destinations may not be the end of it yet fellow passengers add a layer of spirited sweetness to it. Not every person you meet may be your friend yet it makes fodder in remembering fondly the interaction.

It’s not about the emotions. Developing meaningful conversations first and it just happens with an innate charm. I was lucky to have such co-passengers with the right charm and poise, effortless and easy in making the ride worth remembering and as we parted goodbye, it leaves a good feeling and happiness on the face. Such rare moments exist. Reason why, I cherish such solo travels and it can only happen in cities giving us good vibrations. In my case, Mumbai made a strong connect and of course the old monk rum we spoke about.



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Mumbai: First dip in the city

Dec 19-20

This week makes more than two months since I started off in Mumbai living the first couple of days and wondering how fast days of life are flung on your face. It’s incredible when days start resembling each other coupled with something or the other simply reminding us about its complexity, reaffirming my faith in manifestation or coincidence if you wanna put it like that.

Of course, I am speaking about Maximum City starting rolling with a not-so-rosy encounter with the driver who wanted extra money beyond the app price from the airport and called my friend cum host who came to my rescue and picked up a fight for me. Is this what my city was keeping for me? Sometimes, the journey starts on a bumpy ride for us to find our way. First lesson learned. It was quite a ride beating the airport traffic, fight with the pesky driver, and reaching my friend’s apartment when the exhilarating Argentina-France World Cup final everyone was raving about and glued to TV almost got over. Quite a Messi-ness for the French!

I can’t believe being in the city after a decade with my first point of connection Meghna, T and aunty where I was a bit jittery at first. It happens to me always about having a sense of uneasiness as I greet aunty and am unsure how to greet post-COVID when I may have appeared slightly distant and was unsure whether to give a huge or just day Namaste. Yes, we didn’t hug. Meghna made sure that I was wholly sanitized with the spray from my phone to clothes and bags, before I was sent to shower, and came out for dinner. It was almost midnight and felt a sense of peace within. After all, I am in my country India, my city and home, Mumbai. No emotions poured out yet felt serene, and silence caressed my face. This moment, I shall never forget. It was priceless.

The first day, or put it like that, dawned upon and saw me up to the lark quite surprisingly around 6 a.m and to think, I am not an early riser. There is a reason for everything, and it reaffirmed my belief. I bonded with aunty who was up early serving me piping hot chai and breakfast, as we spoke about life sitting at the dining table that would be my comfort zone for many days. The beautiful, cozy, and spacious apartment, I was already swooning over it, and of course, the beautiful balcony adorned with flower pots gave a beautiful city view of Goregaon, Aarey colony and the Metro lines.

The temperature was unusually thick hot and sticky while I expected a morning, wintery December, zooming the phone to take a shot of the beautiful skyline and of the sun rising. Can you imagine, chaotic and hazy Mumbai, plagued by pollution to get a scintillating view of the bright, radiant and yellowish sun? It was pure divine beauty. I couldn’t believe my eyes and knew at this moment being blessed by the Gods. It was quite a morning with aunty encouraging me to do yoga and the lone evenings would be spent on this beautiful balcony, enjoying the view and glittering evening decoration as the city comes alive with the lights as the G 20 summit was ongoing.

We went for a walk in the evening with the morning spent with Meghna getting me a Jio Sim my Indian number, lunch and afternoon nap with lots of chat. My debit card was still not working. Thankfully, I got some extra cash when I changed Dirham into the Indian rupee at Dubai airport which helped me sail through. Of course. we enjoyed the walk and mightily impressed I was with the infrastructure in this part of the city, surrounded by lush trees and the shades offered, the clean pavement to lush surroundings for that matter, be it the line of apartments making Goregaon East, the place to be and in the midst of nature, boasting the best of both worlds. from apartments row, bustling city life, Mithai shops, tea stalls coupled with the serene environment. Beautifully done in this part of the suburb in Gurgaon, nature, infrastructure and apartments make it an ideal place to stay.

One of the most amazing things about Mumbai as a city is no matter where you stay, either in the downtown side or in the suburbs. there is always something for everyone. You will never feel deprived of anything. Go as far as you can, the city is always so vibrant, be it for food, late-night shopping, or getting personal stuff, coming to a realization about no dearth of anything. Like they say East or West, Mumbai is one place where you have everything on your fingers and no need to travel far for groceries or sundry. Can it be different in a city like Mumbai, a city constantly on its edge where Maximum is its brand value? The day such facility stops, the city stops existing.

This is Mumbai for you where very few places can aspire to be like that. It’s no 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. island whose USP is the people’s attitudes towards life and work, constantly thriving and the sky is the limit where the word imposing limit doesn’t exist in the dictionary. It brought me to a realization that it’s the place I wanna be and just took me less than a day to realize where my life lies.

The walk was beautiful and coaxed my friend to stop at the tea stall that we call thapdi in India for me to have a cup of chai. It was absolute bliss having chai on the street after a decade and was in for a surprise to see our glass disappearance in favor of the plastic cups. We, Indians, have a special bond with having tea in this tiny yet iconic glass.

We visited one of the most amazing shopping outlets, Zudio where M told her husband loves the brand so much, and man, I wasn’t disappointed to see everything under one roof at an affordable price with no compromise on quality, from tee to jeans, trousers, banyan and nice pair of shoes, and pajama the same that would be costing me a bomb in branded malls, two to three times the price. On the way back, she chided me for carrying less stuff and dragged me to a supermarket to get myself the basic kit to use, from soap to aftershave, lotion and shampoo. All was done in a day and the next day, got my bank stuff to be sorted out.

As we sat for dinner and reflected on a day in the city and life fleeting like dust and of course, incredible Mumbai. For her. it’s nothing new as a resident and proper Mumbaikar, I am very sure. Standing on the balcony and admiring the glittering lights on buildings and roads lends a serenity and a charm of its own, loving every minute of this outing as I clicked with my phone, and moving the camera is an emotion that can not be described in words, a sense of innate calm and feeling the energy of goodness and happy vibes reverberating in my soul, running through nerves and limb.



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Dubai to Mumbai: Adrenaline and emotional homecoming

December 18, 2022

Dubai International Airport

A smooth two-and-a-half flight from Dubai to Mumbai as I straddled the duty-free shop airport following the train hopping between terminals to realize that it was about time to plod my way and on my heel to reach the gate for my flight. I keep walking and scything my way past the branded shops in what seems to be a long step before showing up to the Emirates officer to board the flight. Of course, I always keep a set of clothes during flights which I keep changing during connecting flights in the washroom to keep fresh, and a set of toiletries or clothes is a must for everyone, I believe.

There were minor hiccups and finally got sorted out as I queued to board the plane, in between taking selfies, and clicking the Emirates plane from the glass panel when I asked an Emirates officer to take a few of my snaps. I know it sounded eerily crazy. I was taking mobile shots all over the place of the plane from the glass panel entering the flight and was super excited to board en route to my city, Amchi Mumbai. I must say that the Emirates staff was super helpful, asking if I need help with luggage and staff.

Emirates is always jam-packed, particularly towards the Mumbai route with most of our Indian crowd where most of them are Dubai residents. I think that the Dubai-Mumbai route is quite easy since it’s two and a half hours. Finally, I found my seat number after battling the crowd and got the opportunity to sit next to a charming lady Veena who was traveling with her son. She hails from Mumbai and works in Dubai. A snippet of a cheerful conversation as we speak about our respective lives and work where she shares what she’s into, telling so many people to have this confusion about her job designation in finance. It made for an interesting conversation with an easygoing person and knew that would be smooth sailing unlike the first leg sitting on the aisle cooped in the middle of four people.

Honestly, I hate that seat arrangement and prefer the three seats arrangement which makes it more accessible or for that matter two seats in a row.

I was in no mood to watch anything on the flight because of the short distance between Dubai and Mumbai, preferring conversing with someone where one finds certain ease. I love easy-going and grounded people with not too much of an effort in striking a good, soulful conversation and a reminder about chucking out the baggage we tend to carry as humans.

The trip this time was better in terms of services offered and of course, my eyes hovering on the food tray, praying when it would be within reach. If I could get invisible superman power and steal the food, you bet! It took a while for the tray to reach our seats. I asked my fellow companion if she was okay with me having spirits since she has a young kid and was pretty cool telling her she’ll also be having. We spoke about Old Monk Rum which wasn’t available on the plane and which has an emotional value for us, Indians.

The plane finally hit the ground and this feeling about soon landing in Mumbai and sending a tizzy of emotions running like an adrenaline rush peeking towards the window gives such a sight of the city. I held my hands tight on my heart in gratitude and this feeling cannot be explained in words the emotions of reaching home. It took me a long time and this emotion of homecoming is something else that cannot be explained in words. The silent tears of joy shed. A chill down the spine of finding myself in the city. Bombay or Mumbai is not just a city and such an emotion, I shared with my fellow passenger as we waved goodbye to each other, and introduced myself to her son. The thing with kids is that they like it when people are genuinely interested in asking their names and seeing the bright spark in their eyes.

It took us less than half an hour to straddle one’s way out of the plane filled to the brink and one passenger behind gave me back my charger that he borrowed. Travelling has its perks and the downside is the chances of one’s mobile getting conked after a long layover. Thankfully, I had another USB with me and somehow connected my phone inside the plane and it’s something I should always carry to make sure that battery doesn’t die. Alternate chargers really help during flights.

I couldn’t believe my eyes that I am in Maximum City and that too after a very long time. There was an innate belief that life would change and it would in the most unbelievable manner. It took me quite some time between getting off the plane and traipsing my way to clear the immigration counter to finally reaching the Uber counter, and getting the Wifi connection. I enjoyed walking on the flat escalator which can be very intimidating if one is not used, yet fun to keep walking. As my phone was connected, I saw Meghna and her husband’s Tushar dozen plus calls. She called to ask where I’d been and told only got the cab, apologizing since there was no Wifi access.

The thick heat wafted in the air which is the trait that someone is in Mumbai, the crazy airport traffic with the honking, cabs, and cars swerving the way offered a peek at what to expect in the city. Then, Mumbai has always been about chaos as I look set to embrace a new experience. Truly, Maximum City, like they say.

The only hitch is that I forgot asking the phone number or email of my fellow passenger and this is an area where I need to buck up to connect better with people. Business cards do not always work. Trust me on that and gotta remind myself.