I realize that this blog has been so full of travel accounts lately that it may give people the impression that I lead a very full and exciting life, zipping around all over the country. Sorry to dispel that happy impression, but I don't. Its just that life is suddenly compensating all at once for the utter boredom of the last couple of decades, and suddenly there has been a surfeit of trips and vacations. I'd like to think that I've earned it. If you don't agree, you're not honour-bound to let me know.
So, Bombay. Whoa. I really don't know why I came back to Delhi. The flavour seems to have gone out of my life here. Don't worry, that's just another way of saying that I had a really, really great time there. Let me tell you about a few of the highlights and the lowlights. You can figure out which is which.
Bombay at night, from the window of your plane, is beyond exquisite. Its like the setting for the mythical Perfect Wedding; festive but not garish, geometrically right somehow, waves lapping all around. The smell of the city makes me nostalgic for dry fish chutney, which is strange because the very same smell makes most new arrivals gag. Actually, any East Bong with a partiality towards dry fish would feel right at home here. The Brother's apartment in Dadar, with a view of the sea, was just right. It was sunny, and pleasant, white and yellow and orange, happy colours for happiness, and a strange sense of contentment. Even so, the rents are crazy.
Meeting people (bloggers actually) was never quite so much fun. There was coffee, and movies at Regal (very nice, I thought), sumptuous meals, a wee tipple for the tippler in me, bike rides along Marine Drive in the evening (WOW!) and in the rain, when the first pre-monsoon showers hit Bombay, my first guitar lesson, the only one so far, the Gateway of India....etc.
Then there was the food. I shall now provide a list of the very nice establishments and their equally great fare. That city is right after a foodie's heart. So, there was Chinatown, Jai Jawan stall (best prawns ever), Santoor (very nice methi and peas dish), Cafe Mocambo (sigh, the pasta, and sigh, the double chocolate torte), Spaghetti Kitchen (where I discovered that I like squid), Cafe Leopold (good food, but its so hot in there), Goa Portuguesa/ Culture Curry (upon my word, Rajnikanth coasters, yummy prawns, very nice cranberry juice, muahahaha, and even a quaint Goan singer with palm trees painted on his guitar, and a smiling moustachioed police officer's face on the bill. One of their customer feedback forms now says that his/her favourite dish/drink is Scarlett Johansson. Oops.), Tamnak Thai (nice establishment, but I'm not really Thai at heart, as I discovered), Theobroma (such cheesecake, but they'd run out of icecream when I got there. Another one of those subtle irony things), and Hard Rock Cafe (which has atmosphere, some nice memorabilia, and a very nice Long Beach Iced Tea, after imbibing which I was merrily explaining to Kitkat the difference between a hic and a hic-ee), and Amici's (of the melt in your mouth gelatos, the fellow with the World Scrabble Championship t-shirt and the bickering couple), and your regulation Baristas and Smokin Joes and Cafe Coffee Days etc. I feel so replete.
There were also job interviews, where I was mostly trying to make sense out of myself, and discovered that sense is rather elusive. Let's just say that giving interviews will ruin atleast two out of your fourteen vacation days. Three, if you're the kind whose nerves think that jumping around in gay abandon is what they should do on vacation.
There were also the tiny tots, Kitkat's cousins, who are the most adorable little things. The elder one loves to dance, and the younger one loves to ask "Kyun?". One is six years old, the other is two. The little one promptly adopted me fifteen minutes after we met, jumped on me once every twenty minutes, gave me a lot of imaginary money, and when I was leaving, clambered onto my lap to ask, "Aap laapash (waapas) aaoge?". I replied that I didn't know, to which she promptly retorted, "Kyun?"
One night when I was leaving for dinner, I passed one of the men living downstairs in one of those teeny roomlets. He was sitting on a broken down scooter, singing away to the night. He was rather...bald. And when I passed him by, he turned to me and yodelled soulfully. I didn't make the appropriate response then, so I shall do so now. Teehee.
This trip was also the culmination of years of planning to holiday with Kitkat, PS and SKT, and we all sorely missed RR, especially when we were dropping or spilling anything. We discovered that PS makes a mean pasta and cannot be subtle, SKT gets homesick very very soon, and Kitkat is a rather nice control freak. We also discovered that we can cook some, but the main trick with pasta is to boil it. Thoroughly. Sigh.
Finally, Bombay is a shopper's paradise. Carry lots of money when you go there. The sea is dirty but soak your feet anyway, till they start itching. Its worth the risk to feel the waves dragging the sand out from under your feet, and squealing in surprise, every single time.
Now, the vote of thanks. Thanks you R Bhaiyya, for the hospitality and the riot of restaurants, thank you Brick for all the fun, and for having a bike and for being a sentimental fool who came all the way to the airport to say goodbye for half a minute, thank you Raghu, because you're 'berry likeable' too, as long as you don't text me at four a.m., thank you n.g., provider of interviews and whiskey samples and tiramisu flavoured gelatos, thank you, nice HR lady, for being good to me when I was quaking in my boots (figuratively), thank you, bald guy, for the amusement, thank you, parlour lady, for the wonderful haircut, and whoever I forgot and therefore omitted, I'm like that, but thanks anyway. Now back to life.
P.S.:- I omitted some lowlights, which I shall now include. I didn't have any mangoes, coz I didn't have the money or the time. I didn't ride the ferris wheel at the beach either. I shall also have to leave Cafe Churchill for the future. Also, I now figure, that if any place has given you sadness, or bad memories, or general heartache, its a great idea to reclaim that place and colour it in the shades of pleasantness again. It worked for me, it did. I can claim to like Bombay again.