Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mumbai!!! How I missed you!!

Yup! I am back in Mumbai.... and it feels goooooood! I left my daughter's tiny flat in the 15th arrondisement at 4.30a.m. It was -8 degrees. My brain was frozen. So was my heart - but that had nothing to do with the cold. I was leaving my tiny sparrow alone in her nest, and it was hard. Very hard. My husband sitting in Mumbai was tracking my progress diligently. Did the cab arrive on time? Had I checked in without any problem( Paris check-ins are the WORST!). Was the flight to Zurich delayed or on schedule?? I was flying SWISS after decades. I am happy to report it was a very pleasant experience, barring what is internationally known as the ' Hindu Meal'. Inedible is a polite word for it ( mine was boiled rice with boiled carrots and boiled beans). Why had I ordered it? Huge mistake.

So, this is what I did as soon as I arrived in Aamchi Mumbai - I drove straight to the amazing idli-dosa walla at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan near Chowpatty, and attacked the hing-heavy sambar. I knew I was home!

Frankly, I had deliberately disconnected from desi news, except for checking headlines sporadically on various sites. I had decided to switch off from my 'Mumbai self ' during those 10 days and give the daily information overload a rest. I wanted some much needed down time and am glad to report I got it. Yes, even in those freezing temperatures with our fingers turning purple each time we took off our gloves.

On my last night in Paris, Arundhati treated me to a fancy evening since she won't be here for my birthday. She'd already gifted me a flacon of 'Joy' by Jean Patou, a fragrance she associates with me and her childhood. So, the two of us set off happily enough, bundled up like eskimos in layers and layers of wool ( no Doodunes for either of us. I don't care how trendy they are this season, nor how warm they keep wearers, they are ungainly and ugly). First stop - 'Costes', second stop 'Cafe de l'Homme', third stop Trocadero. The gigantic, waning moon peeping over the Eiffel Tower looked unreal. But then, that's also the magic of Paris - nearly everything looks unreal - it is just too beautiful to be true.

Back in Mumbai, I looked affectionately at our far-from-perfect metropolis. Its shabbiness made it more endearing! Oh, the comfort of our desi chaos - how I love it!! Slimey baggage handlers sidling up for 'baksheesh' and offering to 'fix' things at customs ( I had nothing to declare but my genius!! Ha ha!! Chill out, it's a joke, and a take- off on the original ). Noisy relatives outside the terminal creating a familiar din - there was the usual over-loud haggling and deal making with crooked taxiwallas in high pitched, raised voices, as impatient maasis and chachas, spat randomely, while nonchalantly chucking plastic water bottles and other rubbish all over the place. Good old India. Nothing ever changes here. That is its charm.... and curse!

52 comments:

Manjiri Kale said...

Namskar ,
Swagat aahe aamchya mumbait.
Pardeshi swatala gothvun ghenyapeksha ithli gulabi thandi chhan aahe..........!

Vinay. said...

Thank God, you are back. we were starting to get worried over your long spell of silence.please don't do this. it is not acceptable. keep saying something,even if it is rubbish.we missed you and happy to have you back dear MA DE

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Why I missed you?
- welcome

Anup said...

It's been more than a year I'm away from my home. away from IND.. Thank you for reminding me that. grrrr!

oh, and Happy birthday! Have great time... :)

supriya said...

Finally got you back..!
But one thing worth mentioning would be..India is much more than just its "charm" and "curse"!
anyway..wish a great happy birthday..shobha ma'am..!

Sharmila Ganguly said...

Being amidst impecfection is so relaxing and non-stressful:)

RAJ47 said...

Hi Shobhaa,
Welcome back!
You have disappointed me by not posting your 31 dec photo.
Anyway, WISH YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND ALL READERS OF THIS BLOG A VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!!!
@Vinay,
I don't know how close your equation with Shobhaa De is, but remember this is a very open blog. Nothing that Shobhaa De says has ever been or would ever be rubbish. Some of her fans like me would take offence to your comment. I am sure that was after effect of "foot in mouth" disease, which you will retract soon and apologise.

numerounity said...

Cool... I am sure even Mumbai missed you. see what they have done in your absence- released 3 idiots and even the controversy.

Your take plz:)

Ekta Khetan

ne2 said...

Bon retour & Bonne Fete!!U put it right in words....I think it's Tranquilizing Effect of both, da DESI CHAOS + DESI CHAI's v miss most vn v r away from da homeland :)Anyways, feels gud 2 hav 2 bk.Some1 xpressive & sensible enough 2 bring 4ward da 3-i story credit issue 2 a meaningful dicussion.

gauri said...

I don't know when your b day is. But anyways wish you a very happy b day..

Pooja said...

Ma de birthday is on 7th january.

K A L L U said...

Hello Shobhaa,
I've always been a big fan of your take on current affairs and I follow your blog regularly. Just wanted to wish you a wonderful 2010 and a very happy birthday. If you happen to be in Los Angeles sometime, I'd love to meet you.This post reminds me of how I feel when I land in Chennai:-)
Kalyani

Helena said...

HeiShobaa and Mumbai/India!

Greetings from Helsinki/Finland where there is even colder than in Paris.(-20)
But that`s not my reason to travel to Mumbai and see it`s charm and curse.:)
My reason is here http://blogs.finnair.com/
(and had to mention this blog in mine too.)
Have a happy day!

Mind Curry said...

everythings changing..except our mindset..that can change only with a cultural invasion..it will happen..but for it to reach critical mass, considering we have 1 billion people, we have to wait a long bit. never knew you blogged..followed someones link here..more power to you!

Alex Engwete said...

Wow!... Glad to hear you made it back home safely...

bindu said...

Hi Shobhaa,missed you & your blog.
Many happy returns of the day.This is exactly how we feel when we come
down to Mumbai.A\c cabs are a godsend.I dread even going near the
'kali-peeli ones.

krutika said...

I am soo sick and tired of you people being able to travel abroad live there and come home and say wow its gr8 here, backward and regressive thts how we like it. Can you imagine how horrible mumbai is for the regular middle class citizen who will never be able to visit any of these places and gets to see snippets of these places only on big screen, just cuz the rich in india like it the way it is. After living in united states for 3 years i had gone to India for a vacation, and now i have vowed to never return again, it is dirty, overpopulated(you have no idea if you have lived in India all your life), overpolluted and full of rude and impolite people, and then there is that other bunch of idiots trying too hard to be an american. Overall it is a disappoinment and i hope tht there is atleast some progress.

Vinay. said...

err... it was only an affectinate tweak and no malice intended. I am a die-hard fan of shobhaa.

Mukesh Bhatia said...

Welcome back De maam!!. Am sure u must have had a real time of ur life with ur dear daugther. Yeah truly ppl missed u a lot.
Expecting a clear come back bang now...

Akshaya said...

i was brought up in Mumbai and now im stuck in Kerala.... oh! yes.... i miss Mumbai...

Shivani said...

Hello Shobhaji,
Welcome back and happy birthday..!!

shailysahay said...

Couldn't agree with you more on the last line.
Welcome back and a Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

Theyoginme said...

glad to see you back and a charm is always a charm - its India! Happy birthday...

Latha said...

A very very happy new year to Shobhaaji & one & all here....er...to this blog family !
@ Krutika, "full of rude and impolite people, and then there is that other bunch of idiots trying too hard to be an american. Overall it is a disappoinment and i hope tht there is atleast some progress."
Krutika, you are critical but candid. Unfortunately, couldn't agree with you more.

Pooja said...

Dear Ma de,
Happy Birthday!
your gift-Prayer (thats all i can do but i believe in power of prayers) one very important wish of yours come true.
Have a nice birthday friend!

Nirbhay said...

@krutika
That was not only rude but foolish.
You have to be born one to be a american.If you want you can act like one and look funny it is upto you.
I love Mumbai as I have spend my best days there.It is not the surroundings that make you happy but your good times.

Regarding the class comments,I know many families that have atleast one person settled in US.It is not a big thing anymore.

Take care....

RAJ47 said...

Hi Shobhaa,
MANY, MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE DAY!!!

Tijus said...

ur thots on the chetan versus 3 idiots saga?

ms said...

help, mz de! please write a review of Trois Idiots! i am floundering in this miasma of pathetic wordsmithery, even some celebs have aired their efforts. i beg you, i need the final word on this subject, and since what you say is engraved in stone (pathar ki lakeer!) for moi, i will have closure!!

krish said...

hi

wElcome home Ma , missd u a lot....


Lover

Kris

Sameer said...

Welcome home. I can understand your sentiment of not reading or thinking of your home country when you are traveling abroad. I am doing same thing currently in a reverse way. Spending vacation in India and not reading any news from US. Will be doing that next week when I return back to US.

Please do share your views on 3 idiots. You are TOO close to those topics - writing a book, rights of author etc. and then the Cine world. So, do let us know your thoughts.

By the way reading Speedpost nowadays. Of course in Marathi. Some how I connect with the content immediately. In my last trip to India I read Selective Memory and this time reading Speedpost. Not to mention a great read. Aparna did wonderful job with translation- just as she did with Selective Memory. Anyway, welcome back and let's get writing :)

ROHAN kARKHANIS said...

welcome back to india...even though i am writing this from leeds, UK, where its freezing and things are almost to a standstill.. watched 3 idiots at the local cinema in leeds... absolutely loved it.. cinema hall was almmost half full which is a great response for a indian film abroad.. any way waiting to hear your views on the film itself and also the controversy which surrounds it regarding the book "five point someone" by chetan bhagat

gauri said...

Wish you a very happy birthday shobhaaji.

drukmo said...

Hi Shobhaa, envy you! I wish I was in India!

As usual was stuck with work late at night and took a 15 min respite from it. I saw online that Star news had a hooplah going on abt 3 idiots and the credit controversy. Would be happy to know what your assessment of the whole situation is.
Your tibetan fan, t.

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

We all miss our home but cant express ourselves so eloquently as you do.

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Kiran Raivaderra said...

I think being bold is more important than being talented. But you are both. Yesterday on Twitter i pleaded with you to write in support of Chetan (i do not know him or met him) and you did it, so convincingly. They all simply hijacked his credits and so shamelessly. And trouble is that in Bollywood (and may be everywhere) you cannot take panga with the powerful. Frankly i do not like all your writings, but you have never disappointed on issues where one has to be bold and forthright. Thanks

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Can't agree with you more!

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