Two days back I was going to Thane in a local train and a long distance train was running on top speed on a parallel track a little distance away. That’s when I saw them. Two boys emerged out of an opening in the engine and started to walk on the roof of the train. I couldn’t believe it. They were laughing, thrilled by the risk involved in what they were doing. One of the boys moved ahead and sat at the very edge of the train with his legs dangling, and the other one followed and sat behind him. They were screaming in utter abandonment, their hair and tee-shirts fluttering crazily in the wind. Their arms were raised in the air, and it reminded me of DiCaprio in Titanic. They were clutching each other, looking ahead and just laughing.
I could not stop looking at them. How happy they looked. How close they seemed. I so wished I had my camera at that moment. It just brightened my day. And when I saw them, I was listening to The Shins, and the image went so well with the song I was listening to (New Slang). It is funny how we can just forget all our problems and worries in the sheer happiness of moments like that one.
Today is my last day in Mumbai. I have mixed feelings. I can’t wait to sleep on my bed (which is not prone to breaking after every few days) and feel my soft pillow under my head. I can’t wait to eat all the home food, and meet my family. But I know I will miss this place. It has been a bittersweet experience. More like a saccharine sweet and a tangy sour type, actually. Some days have been unbelievably good, and some days have been the worst ever. The past two days I have just been shopping. Linking road, Hill road, Colaba Causeway, Fashion Street. Chattu and I went to Gokul last night. And there, just sitting there with him, talking about ‘work’ and stuff, I felt so grown up. I could not stop smiling. I can officially live on my own now. I don’t need anyone else. I have proved that to myself, at least. The only thing I need now, is to start earning. I cannot wait for that to happen. Having my own money to spend, on myself, and everyone I love. That’s precious.
But now I am thinking about all the things I will miss. I am going to miss the announcements on the railway stations “Overhead wires panchees hazaar volt te pravahita hai. Gaadi cha tapavan nu jaan leva ho shakte. Kripya gaadicha tapavan nu pravaas karu ne.” (Okay, I don’t know Marathi so pardon me if I got that wrong.) And I will miss the surge of relief I felt every day once the train would reach Dadar and most of the people would get out. Which reminds me, I bought a tee-shirt from Colaba which says, “Darr ke aage jeet hai, Dadar ke aage seat hai!” :D
I’m going to miss the clawing, screaming, pushing aunties who were ready to stampede their way in the trains all the time. Okay, I won’t miss them all that much. But I will miss the innate Mumbai-ness of the places. The Victorian architecture in South Bombay, people living in orange tin boxes, the pretty churches in Bandra and Christmas decorations everywhere, the salty smell at Nariman point, the hustle bustle at CST, the little trinkets people sold in the locals.
Right now, sitting in my empty apartment, I am realizing how lonely one can feel in this city when you don’t have to run about all the time and do not have friends to keep you company. The loneliness can be haunting. I’m going home tomorrow, but I am taking a huge part of Mumbai with me, and leaving an even bigger part here. A part of me at Andheri station, a part of me at the Mc. Donald’s besides it. A little part of me at Marine drive. A little part of me in this flat. And a very special part sitting on a roadside pavement talking about parallel universes in front of Bombay Blues.
It has been one of the most challenging, and ergo, one of the most satisfying experiences in my life so far. I am looking forward to home. Looking forward to the winter chill and fog. Looking forward to the new year. Bring it on, 2014 :)