Let me start this by telling you something about me. Bombay has been an integral part of me. You see, I lived here for the first thirteen years of my life. I love the city, the people here, the street food and the language! Unfortunately though, i never had the opportunity to experience the “city life” as they call it. I was far too young when we lived here.
Cut. 5 years later, here I am back in Mumbai, to meet all these beautiful friends I’ve made along the way. So today was day 1 and i’ve already had a plethora of experiences! I’m going back home with a suitcase filled with memories i know this. I wanted to look around the city today and my friend graciously offered to come along. There was a catch. We had to use the train.
Now, I am this person that hates crowds and generally avoids any situation that involves a lot of people. So there I was, standing on the platform bustling with people, my ticket safely in my jeans pocket, clutching my backpack, as terrified as a mouse. My friend noticed my nervousness and told me this “there are just two rules, 1. Once you get on the train, don’t look back. Trust me I’ll be right behind you. And no.2 dont stand near the door, push and go as far in as you can. Now just breathe.”
And push I did and we did get on the train. 20 minutes onto the ride, we both got seats and got relatively comfortable. Now mind you by comfortable I mean there were still one too many persons sitting on that train seat and there were still people standing in front of me jostling each other just to get enough room to stand, their butts too close to my face for comfort. But I couldn’t care less. Because while I sat there clutching ,my bag for dear life, my friend had taken out her phone and she was comfortably texting. There were a group of women making travel plans for this weekend. Another couple of them shouting over two rows, exchanging office gossip. The lady next to me was chanting prayers from her prayer book. The woman in front of me was doing her make up. I kid you not, in that moving train with so many people around her, she got her lipstick and kohl spot on.
I am just sitting there looking around awestruck by how Mumbai is the best example of “life must go on”. Everyone around me was going about their life like it was the most normal thing in the world. Mumbai, they call her the city that never sleeps. And so many more over used bollywood clichés. But you know what? This is something bollywood did get right. It is the city that never sleeps. I was just so amazed by the normalcy of it all. It is hard, it is tedious but these mumbaikars don’t seem complain about it at all. And thats just so inspiring.
My mind wanders to my life back in medschool. Isn’t it just like this? There’s so much to study, theory and clinics apart, so much to remember. Every week is exam week. There are seminars to give, presentations to make. So many doctors to impress, without causing the patient any distress. Clearly I can’t rhyme. Anyway, I could just complain about it all day long or get inspired by these ladies around me and study hard. Taking the easier way out seems so appealing sometimes. So on the days I wake up feeling “I can’t do this. Its so hard “, maybe i should think of this lady chopping vegetables in a crowded train for dinner later that night. Some days are exhausting but what can I do about it but take it in a stride? This is what they call the mumbaikar spirit.
As I’m sitting there looking at people, soaking it all in, contemplating life a shrill voice woke me from my reverie “Aisa sir nahi hilane ka. Mereko baal chubta hai”. (You cant move your head around so much, your hair is pricking me.)
Well, that was day 1.