Day 1 had been eventful, because of the beach and the people who chose to be themselves. From being stupendously idiotic to gooey romantic, people were sweet, kind, generous, annoying and exhausting. They all reside now in my castle of memories.
Day 2 began with the incessant buzzing of alarms under the bed covers, and my failed attempts in snoozing them. Alarms on a vacation you ask? Well, it’s because there was this rustic little church near our hotel that we wanted to see, whose gates would graciously close at 8 a.m. and yet when we shot out of our rooms in a record breaking time of 10 minutes, we were faced with closed gates and a board displaying the timings that mocked us!
We explored the streets, walking in the path where the roads took us, occasionally stopping at food stalls for jalebis, vadapavs, pakodas, tea, lassi, and everything that looked delicious. I lost count of how much I ate that morning, but I can never forget that it was the best off-the-menu breakfast of my life! My only regret was that I didn’t carried the camera along, hence missing out on the various epic shots of the mumbaisqueness!
The pictures that I dreamt of capturing, but couldn’t; of kids playing with paper balls and cardboard bats on the curbs, of a family that officially herded hybrid cows right on the road, washing and feeding them, selling the cow feed, of the old man who pulled the cart loaded with long pieces of wood which probably weighed at least thrice his own weight, of the kids who chased each across streets, hollering and screaming for no apparent reason, just because! Of shops that had just opened up for business, of little girls treating themselves with candies and ice cream cones after finishing the exams that day. (I too was surprised that the exams were over by the time we woke up that morning, what?!). I guess the pictures would never be truly captured with the emotion that I perceived that morning!
Once we returned to our hotel, we spent the morning having endless conversations about everything and nothing (you know, the usual girl talk!), playing card games and acting silly.
The evening was set aside for the shopping haven in colaba. I wouldn’t be wrong for saying that the market has never seen an uneventful or silent day! We had to make our way through the tiny path between the crowded stalls and the haggling customers. I, for one am not much of a spontaneous shopper, because it has to be pre-programmed, so that I’ll be all set in my mind.
There were a few shops were we had to put our foot down on the asking price, and a few times where pretending to walk away from the shop did not change the shop keeper’s mind; luckily, flattery can go a long way in such cases; praise the owner, admire the shop, take a few pictures with the owner, and voila!
An interesting foreigner crossed my paths, who was searching for an antique piece of an elephant. He wouldn’t settle for anything else, which made me wonder, India isn’t known just for elephants, right?
But most of all, we made a lovely friend on the train; a girl who was just visiting the city over the weekend. She is anybody’s perfect shopping partner; from picking the right dress for you, to matching them with the appropriate accessories, and ferociously haggling with the shop owner to bring down the price for next to nothing, all just for you! Boy, could she haggle! I would’ve applied for tuitions, it’s just that, I would still be terrible at haggling even if I had a major in it.
At the end of the day, we bid adieu to our lovely friend, and we strolled past Taj Hotel after being chased by a watchman for taking pictures of it.
Highlight of the day? Gateway of India, at sunset!
A foreigner couple had picked a spot in front of the great monument to showcase their skills. A crowd had gathered around them, mixed with curiosity and nonchalance. For some reason, the male performer was slightly nervous, and dropped the juggling batons a few times, and we Indians are a shy crowd, generally not the cheering kind (well, the youngsters are, but a mixed crowd eagerly watching two foreigners, hoping to be amazed isn’t any help, Really!)
So! Boom!! Enter the cool cats! (Okay, we were already at the scene, peacefully sitting among the crowd) but we did help in lifting up their spirits (now, this I say with all the shattered humility that I possess). We hooked my phone with Bluetooth speakers that my friend help up in the air, for added effects. As the song “Alive” by the empire of the sun roared out of the speakers, the mood picked up, the performers effortlessly completed their act. I occasionally played an ass, booing at the unresponsive crowd for not cheering along. We completed the day trip at Nariman point, witnessing a breathtaking view of the queen’s necklace. I guess, for the locals, it is a usual sight, but I particularly swoon over beaches, no matter the conditions.
We finally made it to the church, early morning, while my remaining two friends snored peacefully under their duvets. In the church, a Sunday mass was in progress that I shamelessly tried to disturb with my oh-so-enthusiasm for photography, yet didn’t succeed. Our flight was at noon, which gave us very little time for round-3 shopping, yet, we set afoot for one last shopping spree, not making much out of it, the reason being Sunday.
On our way back to the airport via the local train, we accidentally took the handicapped compartment that is right next to the women’s compartment; hence in turn confusing every female who boarded our compartment, assuming it to be the women’s bogie. Especially, at Dadar, when more than a dozen women swarmed into our bogie, fiercely pushing us back, only to realize their mistake later, then jumped into the adjacent compartment It takes a lot of stupidity, mixed with chaos and confidence to fool a dozen passengers, all at once.
If I had to describe Mumbai in one word, it would be lively!
When I first started on this trip, I was a muddle of thoughts and emotions, but when I returned, I had clarity on one thing; i.e. look beyond the picture, and you’ll see the truth. I could finally see my friends for who they really were. One girl, with whom catching up felt more like a page refresh, because we were always updated about each other’s lives, it was that simple. I see her now for the confident, fierce, driven, independent, over-the-top bonkers, super girl. Another friend, on whom I’d possessed many misconceptions was really just a guarded angel with a childish glint in her eyes, a soul who learnt about this world all on its own. She has grown dear to me now, more than ever. Another girl whom I prided to call my best friend, until we fell off the wagon and drifted apart. I could finally see her for the passionate devil, yet the absolute child that she is, covered by layers and layers that one has to take the time to peel them off to really get to know her.
None of them, are what meets the eye! They are more, much more than that.
I realized that you really don’t need to know where you’re going, as long as you feel that you’re on the right path. And in that regard, your soul and the universe will help you a long way.
If you want to heal, the universe will find a way to do so, you just need to silence your mind and believe.
There exists a mountain, called Mount Mazama, in Oregon. It was a dormant volcano that blew up 7700 years ago, in a cataclysmic eruption. ON the collapse of the summit of the volcano, it then turned into an empty bowl- A mountain that had its heart removed. Over the years, it was filled with rain water and snowmelt that has turned it into a wide lake, called the Crater Lake. The lake is so pure and deep, that it absorbs every color of the visible light, except for Blue, hence it reflects pure blue.
Once a wasteland of lava and pumice, turned into a pristine lake, after it was healed.
Imagine the wonders we’d be capable of, once we’re healed!