The Mumbai High
There’s something about Mumbai. Of all the places I like in the country, it’s the one I find hardest to leave. While other cities might evoke feelings of nostalgia and make my heart sigh, Mumbai has a You know you want me attitude. Yes I do, I find myself saying, as I get off the plane at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
Maybe it’s because I grew up splashing through the monsoons and exploring the city in an auto rickshaw, air conditioned by the Arabian seas breeze. Maybe it’s the ride on the train or the midnight walk on Marine Drive that keeps me coming back for more.
I decided to analyze my love for Mumbai the last time I was departing from CSI airport. Maybe if I eliminated things I liked about the city, I could get to the core of what makes me want to stay. Would I still love Mumbai if my friends weren’t there? Couldn’t I feel the same way about another city by the sea? Is it really the only place I can eat bhel puri in? As I answered these questions it became clear that no matter what I took out of the city, there was still something I loved about it. Baffled by this unexplainable feeling, it occurred to me that I was about to leave the very city I was dreaming of.
This realization led to my mom receiving a panicked phone call from me, the last time I was at CSI airport. As I crossed security and waited to board my plane, somehow leaving Mumbai seemed like the worst idea in the world. “Are you sure?” I asked her, as if I was leaving behind a husband and child in Mumbai. It was just a trip, a one week escape that made me want to reschedule my life around it. “Yes,” she assured me, most likely wondering what she’ll do about her crazy daughter.
I announced my new life plan to her. I could rent an apartment and get a job in the meantime, and that’s all I really need right? She asked me when the last time I’d looked up rental properties in Mumbai. How long could it take to get a flat on Juhu Beach after all?
As we discussed my predicament, it became clear that it was better for me to research my return more before running out of the airport. My mother consoled my mad desires and assured me I would be allowed back in Mumbai if I left this one time. As I made my way to the plane, I found myself buying two extra vada pavs, just in case.
[Guest post by Seema Dhawan who wishes she had bought more vada pavs because she hasn’t made it back to Mumbai yet and blogs about having a dual-sim identity. You can find her on Twitter @WordAffair. If you would like to write for amreekandesi.com, please read this first, and shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org]