Monday, October 5, 2009

My Glorious Days in Bombay

A vacation is that time, when life moves into a different gear, things happen in a different dimension. The glorious things are more so, and the terrible things don't feel quite so bad. And that is exactly how it was. Twelve days in another dimension. To be honest, though my location has changed physically, mentally I still am in Bombay. You know that feeling that lingers, where one feels they are still in the same place for a few days after having moved. Oh! Glorious Bombay, how I love thee. The twelve days were packed with activity, and I saw very little of the DH, and even spent a few days going solo, leaving the BB with his much adored GP, though he(BB to be specific) was all mine to cuddle in the night.

We had a late night flight this time, bookings at sky high prices, absolutely last minute, and loads of luggage, so much in fact that we had to take two separate cabs to the airport. And the airport, OMG!! I had never seen the Sharjah International Airport as packed, as it was on the weekend of Eid, the day we left. Paranoia of swine flu, and I had the BB in his carrier, up my back, all the way till we sat down for some dinner, and then back again till we got into the flight. Guess what? there were some illegal passengers too, being in the second last row, we saw it. A girl, a couple of men, who got into the flight, and walked straight into the crew's cabin, stay put, and emerged only after landing. We landed early morning, and reached home at the crack of dawn, and joyfully dosed off to sleep. I woke up, the DH and the BB fast asleep, got dressed, and went out for an urgent errand, telling the DH to be up, to open the door when I return. What do you think happened thereafter? Of course he never heard me banging on the door, and ring the bell a million times, happily asleep. I went out hunting for the MIL, managed to find her some place, far away from home, and got back with her. There was no point waiting in the mosquito infested stairwells. So that was the start to my holiday.

I traveled in the locals after ages in Bombay, full of love and nostalgia. Actually carried my DSLR to take photos, the people around were surprised and expected me to soon show them a press card. Not surprising to be honest. I would have felt the same way back in the days when it was my regular mode of transport. The locals in Bombay become such an essential part of the lifestyle, for those using it, that it is difficult to even imagine a different dimension to it. Hawkers came in and out selling things starting from bindis, hair clips and undergarments to jewelery, dress materials and sarees. A tip for buying from these hawkers: they are more agreeable to bargaining in the second half of the day, while they adamantly stick to the price demanded in the first half. Also the prices are very reasonable, so do not expect huge bargaining margins.I bought myself some multi-coloured wooden bangles. I so love colours, that everything in India looks gorgeous to me. The most amazing thing to happen was, that I bumped into an old train friend who is currently living in the US on one of my trips. She is married to an old classmate of the DH, and has been living in the US since she got married. By complete coincidence, we were taking the same train, and had a gala time catching up during the journey. What were the chances of two expats actually getting on the same local?

Sunset shot from the train, while crossing a creek.

The trains always have some interesting graffiti and advertisements to catch one's eye. Some are plain lewd, while others can promise everything from a bean bag to weight loss, career enhancing courses to solution to all of life's problems. Though I had stopped noticing them, during my daily travel days, they quite caught my eye, after this long gap in my traveling. And so here is just one of the many fun ones there were. Why worry, when everything can be solved by just calling a number?

This was the first time I traveled to South Bombay after the gruesome attacks in November. Life seemed just as usual, and I also dared to lunch at Leopold Cafe, one of the open firing spots on that fateful night. The popular eatery, still harbours all the gunshots it recieved, and they have become places of keen attention and curiosity for most. I on my part clicked a few photos too, but will not be putting them up here, for the sheer morbidity and sadness they bring in. Sitting there eating, I realised, indeed there is no place to so much as even hide in there. Also saw the much barricaded Taj. While clicking photos of the famous victorias, the many guard from across the road at the Taj entrance, with huge hand gestures, made it clear to me that I am not allowed to photograph the Taj. And even later while I was ambling around the Gateway, they kept requesting me not to click pictures, and I had to assure them quite forcefully that I was not photographing the hotel entrance from any angle. Fortunately though the entire exchange took place with smiles. But all these things just leave a bitter taste in the mouth, knowing that the once grand and open entrance to the grand hotel now has more guards and security than guests.

That was followed by a lot of cruising along Colaba Causeway and gaping lustily at the gorgeous wares. A riot of colours everywhere. The beautiful jewelery, the lovely casuals, bags, sandals, knick knacks for home. Oh! How much of my will power was needed to stop me from buying pretty much everything I could see. All I can say is, its a treat for shoppers, and lovers of accessories, and ethnic Indian home decor.

This trip was also about photography for me. Pretty much everywhere I went, the camera went with me, and there are loads of gorgeous photos, which definitely need a dedicated post.

And I finally got a glimpse of the elusive rain, my first this year. The water dripping down, pouring down, felt like nectar flowing in my veins. I actually got stranded for about half an hour due to the rains, stood under the roof of a shop, and simple devoured the falling rain with my eyes. I wanted to soak myself, but I had to go back home in public transport, and did not feel quite comfortable doing that, while being dripping wet. This means I also saw some lush greens after ages, and my eyes soaked them up hungrily. I can just close my eyes, and see the scintillating green all around.

Also went out for a lavish girlie lunch with one of my closest friends, and could not believe we spent over three hours eating lunch, there was just so much to catch up and chat about, it was loads of fun, and for once it was just the two of us, no spouses, no kids, quite a lot of fun.

The biggest joy on this trip for me though, was that I fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Yes, yes, yes I did. I even wore them on my way back here. I could not, simply could not believe that it would ever happen. In fact I had given away nearly all my clothes, and was sure this pair was gone too. It has to be a happy play of fate, that the pair was languishing, hidden under a jacket on one of the hangers in my cupboard. I could have done cartwheels at that moment, had I ever learnt to do them. A few of the old tops, which I had just not had the heart to give away, fit right on, and left me beaming like a hundred watt bulb. And of course people were all astonished to see me a lot lighter than when they had seen me six months back. On the flip side, too much of blogging and Net surfing, over the past year has hurt the eyes, and the power in my eye has doubled. So I am stuck with constant wear glasses now, and have promised myself much much lesser time on the laptop, just hope I can keep it up.

The rest of the vacation was full of yummy food, catching up with friends, riding around.
The BB enjoyed all the attention showered on him to the hilt, increased his vocabulary, and absolutely floored his grandmother by calling her gam'ma. He was happy on the couple of days I was out, but what was great, was the way he hugged me and clung to me when I got back, it is the warmest feeling a mother can feel I guess. And though I was out and enjoyed myself, a part of me missed him each moment that I was away. He had the most fun time running wild in the open spaces, like small kids' park, or the backyard of an old cathedral, and even in a natural flower garden, which we found hard to traverse due to all the undergrowth. We did a lot of bike rides this time with the BB. The same bike that the DH had in college, and was our primary means of transport in our dating days, and even our marriage, till we got our first car. Never in a lifetime had either the DH or I imagined, that one day our child would ride it along with us. It was such an amazing feeling. And on an evening when the BB decided to drop into a late evening nap, the DH and I went for a couple ride on the bike. For the life of me I cannot remember how it was the last time. I believe it was in the first couple of months of my pregnancy, and I had never occupied a seat on the bike ever since. The ride was punctuated with buying veggies, and other boring things, but it was great fun none the less. But the picture I have in my memory is of the DH riding the bike, with the BB in front of him, and me behind. That is the one I want preserved in my mind forever. The BB was initially hesitant about the bike, but took to it soon enough, and even managed to fall asleep while sitting in the front. Aah! those glorious college days of long bike rides and young love, that is what I thought I would always associate with our bike, but who knew things would change the way they have.

Now that the vacations are over, I hope to have many many more glorious vacations like this in the years to come.


hitch writer said...

Lovely account.. !!!

wish I had lens and I could lose them.. if that helped me in reduce my blogging..


the mumbai local is full of love and nostalgia... ??

well it is for me too but as long as I dont have to board it... gee.. it can get very very crowded... !!

and did you title that post as Bombay ????

thank heavens you dont live in India... or else by now MNS would have ... lol... never mind... he he

Solilo said...

Welcome back, GM! nice account. Some nostalgia there even though I am not a Mumbai-ite but have visited relatives many time.

Rakesh said...

Wow GM! Lovely post... Though I can't you didn't get wet in the rain. I've been dying to do that since the last 5 years now :( and especially Bombay rains! Sigh

I almost get the feel of the sights and sounds. Just lovely. A good vacation, trouble free, sickness free vacation is awesome! Innit.

So when are we seeing the pics?

Especially the bike one!

Tara said...

you are so passionate about the city. good you got around and got to experience rains as well.. bike rides is one thing i have not done there so far.. will do when I go there this time, for sure.. when we meet the next time, i will demand to be shown all those pics,, the city means 7 years full of memories for me as well.. I am too eager for a visit now!

Sraboney said...

I'm glad that you had a great time and BB connected with his grandparents...They are important in a child's life...

Shruti SriHarsha said...

first of all welcome back!!! sure did have a lovely vacation:) U seem to have shopped a lot lady...good...good...
Back to routine is always bitter-sweet...But its nice to get back to our home at the end of the day..whats say..

D said...

Glad you had such a wonderful vacation! I'll be waiting for the pictures :) And hey, Happy Birthday!!!

Rajlakshmi said...

That was a wonderful account of ur travel.. U must have really enjoyed :)
lovely photographs.. Loved the first one.. The blue tint makes it even more captivating.

Deeps said...

That was alovely account of your trip.

Namnam & I had gone on our own short holiday to Delhi last month and had a great time.

A trip to your parents and your city is always relaxing and redeeming. I practically hand over Namnam to my parents and catch up with all that I missed out on while on such trips :D

Thank you for sharing your experiences,GM :)

Passionate Goof said...

Hitch - Thanks. Touchwood. You are lucky your eyes are surviving the onslaught, hope it stays that way. About the locals, i have always been enamoured by them, I think they lost a bit of the charm, after many years of traveling, but I am amazed by them again now. And yes it is, and forever will be Bombay to me. If I met that &^% Raj, I will scream it to his face.

Solilo - yes it was. That is my favouritest city in India.

Rakesh - Oh! rains, glorious rains. How terribly I miss them. Yes the vacation was good, the pics will start showing up soon now. :)

Tara - I will show you all the pics for sure Tara, just drop in. And yes the city has an amazing magnetism about it.

Sraboney - Indeed they are!!

Shruti - Thank you Shruts! I did not shop a lot re, just clicked lots of pics. And yes, home is home after all!!

D - Thank you so much for remembering. :)

Rajlakshmi - Thanks. Yes, I really enjoyed this trip.

Deeps - Oh! Delhi. The shopping extravaganza it can be. I am sure you must have had a great time. i so miss Sarojini and Lajpat. Nothing can quite match up to those places. I am sure you must have had a really great time. Did you enjoy all the chaat???

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Sounds like the absolute perfect vacation! You enjoyed it to the hilt and came back with many lovely and happy memories. Yup, definitely the perfect holiday! Wish you many more like these :)

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Sounds like the absolute perfect vacation! You enjoyed it to the hilt and came back with many lovely and happy memories. Yup, definitely the perfect holiday! Wish you many more like these :)

Smitha said...

GM, I somehow ended up missing this post. You had such a lovely holiday! It sounds so wonderful! And Bombay - I have visited it plenty of times and on every official visit - we would be put up in Colaba - walking distance from the Taj - and everything you mentioned brings back so many memories.. Husband studied in Bombay, but I think I am more fond of it than he is :( And that bike must be really precious to you :)

BB seems to have had a wonderful time too - it makes all the difference, doesn't it - to see them enjoy as well?