Mumbai, a city that never sleeps.
When I came to this city I had heard so much about it. I had heard from my friends, family members, the media, and “A city that does not sleep”. But you see the problem with any city and the expectation it creates is that it usually leads to disappointments. Cities like Mumbai and perhaps any other city hides one simple fact behind the razzle dazzle is the hardness of the life led here.
I visited a museum in the city a few months ago and I was surprised at the great many changes in the map of the city. If a city had a biographer they would write about how Mumbai started out as just a few islands and mainland divided by inlets formed by Arabian Sea into the pulsating life form that it is today. The relief of the city has changed over the last few hundred years.
The city became the commercial capital of the country and drew all and sundry. All the leading companies both Indian and MNC’s have their offices here and hence the jobs are more in numbers and so the market grew drawing more and more till the city was bursting at seams, and so it grew again, connecting to the suburbs. People here travel across 35 to 60 kms everyday to get to their place of work and back, some start as early as 6 am. They are people with white collar jobs with top ranking brands, yet they slog day in day out.
The roads everywhere are not the best everywhere, there are many flyovers, the local trains across 3 lines connect across the length and breadth of the city, the BEST buses ply across the city, there are equal numbers of cars, cabs and autos honking their horns to get through the traffic. Mumbai is a tough city to survive in. Unless you earn big bucks, then you have some of the luxuries that you take for granted elsewhere.
The differences are glaring; it is a city throbbing with life because the throb is a million people trying to jostle onto moving trains, on the road, trying to grab a train. But then I sit down and try to think, is it so different from any other city, especially a city I love, Kolkata? Kolkata has its share of criticisms, but truth be told, aren’t their thousands of people travelling by the local train in North, South and Main line, traveling to reach their places of work. I know some people who worked with me who started at 7 am every day to make it to office by 9 am. There were many others who traveled more than 300 kms a day from the suburbs or the nearby district towns to work in their offices. So, it seems to me the tough struggle for life continues everywhere, a home city gives us some cushioning, an alien city makes everything look much more difficult.
But despite all the rational I try to pour into my thoughts, I find to be a randomly fast paced city, too rough in the inside, just a bit polished on the outside. I simply can’t admit to myself that it is just another city. I do not like Mumbai, I will never fall in love with it. I only tolerate it and may someday grow to not turn my nose up to it. It remains a harsh city full of harsh people. I feel like an outsider here. But that’s just me. I would probably feel like an outsider everywhere except Kolkata. I will be lying if I said I cannot find the romance in Mumbai, because some days and some nights the city does surprise me, I think I will talk about that in a different post.
But let me end with a thought about the same notion I started with, a city that never sleeps.
The life in Mumbai is a struggle because of which the inhabitants who come from across the country stay awake. The city never sleeps because someone somewhere in this vast city is trying to stay alive and is awake.
Sources: Wikipedia, mapsofindia