The afternoon sun has already set in at Marine Drive on this busy Sunday. The hustle-bustle in the city and promenade was characterized by lovers sharing an intimate moment, cuddling on the boulders, elderly couples jogging for long distance from Marine Drive till Nariman Point and vendors selling tea, mouth watering paani puri and snacks, offering a slice of life in Mumbai. Children were having a feast on the carousel.
The horse drawn carriage, a feel from the Victorian age, trotted and took a pause, in the city that is never devoid of horde of admirers. The horse wore a tiring look and its eyes showed sign of fatigue for the joy ride since the morning, pushed by the horse man, quite ruthlessly. The horseman was enjoying a nap inside the carriage with his feet upward when he almost fell down, woken up by two voices blowing his ear drums.
“Bhaiya, one round to Churchgate and back to Marine Drive,” the female voice says.
“50 bucks, it will cost,” the thin man quoted the price.
“Let’s go,” the girl climbed the carriage for a ride.
The horseman was interrupted by the young man, “Bhaiya, this is so unfair. I asked first. You are giving her priority because she is a girl who flashed her smile to you.
The girl protested, “No! I asked first. Can’t you take a second carriage or wait for us to come back? What’s up with this I am a girl. Are you stuck in Victorian age?
He said: “This is a victoria carriage. As it is, I asked first. Why should I wait for you?”
Both broke into an argument on who asked first for the drive. Finally, the horseman got fed up, “Ok! There is no need to fight. You also jump in. At least. I can also get to make some extra money, both of you are happy and I’ll treat you with an extra drive towards Rajabhai Tower and Marine Lines. Happy!”
Both smiled to each other shyly. The clip-clop sound of the horse trotting slowly past the sea, BEST buses, yellow-and-black cabs in the city and the wheel is turned, leaving the building and Churchgate station far behind, hearing the siren of trains. The girl offered the guy some chikki and snacks. Finally, he says, “Thank you.”
Indulging in small conversation in the city, he says, “I love the city and it’s my first time in Mumbai victoria despite staying here for four years.”
She laughed, “I can’t believe this.”
He was admiring her hair falling down on her shoulder, caused by the wind. “You have beautiful hair.”
She blushed, “Oh! Thank you. Friends?”
He offered his handshake, “Forever.”
“Not bad. We started with a petty fight,” she smiles seductively.
They ask the horse man to take them towards Marine Lines an turn directly to Marine Drive. Both of them were enjoying this new found romance brewing, as the wind at Marine Drive blew stronger. The Monsoon has just arrived. Finally, they were dropped as they paid 500 bucks. The horseman was happy. As they got down, they patted the horse and not without exchanging phone numbers. It was a memorable romance and it took them no time to start dating, not by sitting in coffee shops but hopping on the Victoria’s carriage. It was their romance hang out. They call it their Victoria love, insisting on taking the Victoria carriage that made their romance bloom.
This post is written as a tribute to the Victoria carriage that will taken off the roads in Mumbai. The iconic Victoria carriage defines life in the city of Mumbai and is part of the cultural identity in Maximum City. My heart also goes for the horses, who brave the heat and gallop tirelessly.