The Bombay i think i know

Posted by nandinit
December 31, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Bombay I know is intricate and inaccessible

So many alleys to vanish into, so much light to guide you out

With loud bracelets and giggling earrings

Born and bred under lush mango trees and hopeful butterfly clasps

They speak the languages of Bengali, Marathi, Urdu

Blabbering out an emotion from pursed lips of colour

Struggling to catch a glimmer of sunbeam to impress their clientele

Indians and non-Indians alike;

With stained glasses that trap sunshine into their stuffy selves

Trying to taste joy that can only be felt


Bombaim grew an island nation

out of gifts, joy, celebration, marriage, and dowry

exchanged like the currency it isn’t;

it proudly goes by capital today

a practice in subtle wordplay,

“What a delight! Capital!”

an archaic British expression,

but the outlandish words still ring true


“Let bygones be bygones.”

dogs and Indians were not allowed

look at the progress we have made, testaments to painful revolutions

Women were not allowed into clubs until the late 19th century

But now we let them dance on countertops.

Watch, as dance bars are where anthropomorphism occurs

a literary figure raped so brutally

for and of men, only men. Few women like the indoors.

We let them outdoors……remember?

Slums, sleaze, sex

Mumbai’s bars paint the prettiest and primmest of images

An added benefit:

a woman still retains her rights to paint

an image so lucid

artistes needn’t repaint it


A disguised paradox,

Bombay chases after money already clenched in its fist

held despondent, suffocated, squelched

slowly the heavy breathing evens out, sweat traverses the loosened palm

the palm breathes, tells the money it’ll all be okay, it’s just a bad dream

the money looks up in tears

so many loves lost, relationships broken, people sold- but it wasn’t its fault


Archipelago of seven islands

King of finance

Exchanger of the currency

Feel the paper’s touch


Swathes of persons in a push comes to shove milieu

Thronging towards perfection; stepping on slippery stones and

getting slashed by the rough vine

Families lost in the whirlwind of stillness

because that mischievous pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

steals the spotlight from his arch of myriad colours

Striving for that touch of sunlight

The artificial warmth, warmer than fire

a sliver through the crack.

Juliet of the sun? questions Shakespeare


Bombaim has never lived to see the sun


the train whistles on, demanding to be heard

lend an ear to Bambai

the motorcycle growls at night

it stops under the bridge for some gas

re-fuelling itself with sizzling oil, a rare spice

its Portuguese persona disappears into thin air


Bombay has smells only the eye can see

Every kilometer, scents seize your senses

Charming you with their cultural idiosyncrasies

Chutney with parathas, anyone?

Put a whole lot, only eat a little

Share the rest


Bombay is an island of hope

encircled by expanses all around

Oceans to run across and skyscrapers to dive into

Little drops of condensation make themselves known on this island

The leaf can rise in pride, knowing that on this island,

there is a place for its child


In Bombay, people pour out onto the streets

From different shades of skin to dialects to dress

The money maker laughs at the man selling 10 rupee channa for a living

His entire livelihood, reduced to a sneer, so that his child can go to school

unlike him

Fortune meets misfortune,

& they become best friends

Giggles shoot out of lips curved like knives

Shrapnel pierces through the mind, an invader unwelcome

“A community,” you say. Bombay muffles her laughter.

She giggles.

“Safe? Quiet? Secure?”

shouts of treachery, disloyalty, threat, fear

Bombay can be ugly too


Show me your scariest side, Bombay!

Tell me your darkest secrets

But “No”. It said

“Secrets are meant to be kept.”


Bombaim retreats to its prejudiced persona

born and bred in shackles of dowry

“Lots of scientists have worked on this model, it’s just that we see no success within reach”

“Should we give up?”

“Let’s work on something more feasible.”


In a fury, I blurted, “You’re not the Bombay I knew and loved,”

“What did you do with it?”

“Don’t point fingers at me!” It said.

“I’ve been Bombay my whole life, I simply don’t know how to be anything else.”

“Well, today you do, Bombay.

And the worst part is that you can’t even recognise yourself.”


So looked Bombay in the eye, and spoke Bombay’s reflection, Mumbai

both brothers as long as they could remember

“Bhai, abhi toh kuch kar.”

“Chalta hai, yaar.”

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