Harried Potter (HP) called, totally miffed at all my writings on London. He was ready to put me back on the next flight back to Heathrow (ouch!) because he just did not understand "all the fuss about London". Another bitter taste of Heathrow would do me good apparently. "Let me take your friends out of that city and let's see where your lurve for Londres disappears". The impulsive and irrational reaction from one of the most controlled and calm individuals I know, over some writings, left me amused and dumbfounded.
The statement that London is special because of friends made me think hard. Now, all my friends know how special they are, and those who don't, please rest assured that you are. Without any offence to any one of those kind souls living in the British capital, the honest truth is, with or without friends London would remain as special. However, I cannot say the same for Mumbai!
Yes I have called Bombay the city of my dreams. I accept that it sowed the seeds of ambitions that are beginning to sprout. But those aspirations were carefully cultivated in London under the most trying and exciting circumstances. Yes Mumbai has been home for the longest time. After having lived across India and Malaysia, I had the opportunity to put my roots down here. But those roots sprawled across continents and oceans to take shelter under the grey and cloudy London skies. Yes Bombay gave me friends who have become my anchors in life. I have become a better person thanks to their feedback and affection. But you see London did that and does that for me on its own. It connects me to my audacious aims, it gives me a strong gigantic leaping pad and it shows me the mirror that I need, to take the next chance in life; and buries any lingering fear.
Mumbai makes me work harder than I thought I could. It never fails to surprise even if it is only estimating the travel time for the daily route to work. The city decides whether it will be twenty, thirty or forty minutes. Bombay throws me off balance just when I thought I had it all under control. Flash strike of taxis, or a surge pricing of onions or simply unavailable medication! The simplest tasks can drain so much energy that there is no bandwidth available to enjoy the city on a normal day.
Mr. Potter cannot deny any of the above and I am sure he is thinking of his miserable luck in finding a driver for almost two years now, the horrible commute that he has to undertake behind the wheel daily and the long traffic jams that have caught him off guard on multiple occasions.
What endears me to Mumbai are the red, blue, orange and green beacons like HP. They make me smile at the most unlikely of times. They surprise me when I am least expecting it. And they size me down when my idiosyncrasies start to soar too high. It is they who make Mumbai home I want to come to after a fantastic week in London. It is they who make the Mumbai monsoon even more magical and it is they who make life in Mumbai meaningful and lovable. And just for that, Mumbai will always be special.