By Omkar Phatak:
Mumbai, the city is named after the Goddess ‘Mumbadevi’. Ancestors claim Mumbai was nothing but widely spread fields of marshlands, some even claim as wasteland. Seven such pieces joined and thereby the city came into existence.
Mumbai has never been the same as it was when I was a kid. People back in those days shared a healthy and a simple lifestyle. But when I look around the city today, I see things have really changed around me. And I Still wonder — When did this happen? Was I So ignorant that I never knew what happened in my own city?
These are the 5 things that have made Mumbai what it is today.
The Mumbai crowd, be it young or old, in riches or rags, Hindu or Muslim, sensible or retarded — for all of them, the city has always been close to their hearts. People who take carry the lunch boxes from home early in the morning every single day and travel around the city to earn their living are the real heroes of the city. The city doesn’t belong to anyone who’s resting abroad country and owns big houses in the city, houses that he doesn’t even live in, or the political authorities who think it to be fair enough to take away the peace of the land by riots and chaos fought over petty issues. If the city belongs to anyone, it is the working class. People who’ve bought tremendous change in their bank balances working day in and day out. Â People, who have felt the Mumbai spirit and themselves, form a part of it. Be it travelling in the Mumbai local in spite of the ever-increasing crowd, going to the voting booth to express your political preferences, no matter how little they count, or coming out in the open to show solidarity to the victims of a recent bomb blast — every activity of a Mumbaikar constitutes an important part of the larger vibrancy of the city.
If education teaches a person to read, experiences teach a person to live. People of the city have never been devoid of experiences in their daily life, be it good, bad or ugly. Experiences have always been a part of you, haven’t they? The ones that you get in Mumbai may make you numb, make you ecstatic, and make you feel miserable, sympathetic or even make you feel suicidal. It could be anything; these experiences that are shared with millions of other people through the social media or just word of mouth will always hold significant corner in the depths of your memory. No one in the city has escaped this; everyone here has a story to tell. Are you ready to listen?
A large number of people — those who reside in the city, outside it and even people living abroad have maintained the impression that Mumbai is one of the most dangerous and menacing cities to live in. Yes, there’s been a lot of filth spilt in the past. Take it from local goons who shot a pistol at the age of 12 and slipped themselves into the dreary underworld, or the blood ridden Hindu-Muslim riots that made innocent souls numb and crippled or, nevertheless, the terrorist activities that have aimed at making the confidence of the people’s power limp and wounded. Overflowing garbage bins, heavy corruption, local street brawls, inadequacy of dwellings or the world famous 24×7 Traffic jam. Though, on the other side of this, the history of the city has pushed people to pave way for change and peace also. I take pride in saying that the same history that Mumbai is dreaded for has been taken as a serious inspiration to push people to do more for their city.
7/11, 26/11, 13/7 — These dates have moved the senses of people and have brought some irreversible changes in their daily lives. A beautiful evening, a crowded train and a series of 7 dreadful bomb blasts that took away hundreds of innocent lives with it. The next morning? The entire city is back on track. Out of their 4 walls, to learn and earn. They are the firmest believers of the need to “move on”. Â This is what we define; we give a stunning new definition of being unbreakable through our lives. The fire after the blasts may have been ended but to those who lost their loved ones, as they succumbed to pain and agony, the fire is still burning deep down in their hearts.
5. The City Spirit
Haven’t felt that yet? I don’t think I’d ever find any person living in the city who would deny that. The spirit that you posses in your heart and mind, as you live in this city is simply inexplicable and incomparable to anything else in your life. It could be anything — having the gol gappes every single day, enjoying your time at leisure in Juhu beach or the Gateway of India, meeting new people every day, helping the unknown yet needy, the rage you feel in the traffic, finding a meaning for your living here, or taking a minute’s silence in remembrance of those who’ve sacrificed their future, soul and life for the city.