Mumbai Memoirs 1: Namaste World! Greetings from Mumbai!
Late last year, I was wondering about my plans for the New Year Eve celebrations. Even as the final week arrived, I stood confused, as the aging year eagerly anticipated a warm farewell from my side. What should I do? Who all would be interested in my idea of a farewell to yet another year that made us a little wiser? All these questions crossed my mind. Most of my close friends and family already had chalked out their own respective plans and thus I realized I would have to go my way. Eventually the last day of the year 2013 dawned. I opened my eyes as the sun rays kissed my eye-lids that morn. Still lying on my bed, I pondered on the possibility of spending the whole day in a meaningful way. I didn’t want to simply watch the year silently walk in to history. Just then my eyes fell on my camera, which sat idle on my writing desk. Instantly an idea crossed my mind,” Why don’t I scooter around Mumbai city and capture the last moments of the passing year?” I jumped out of my bed and started preparing for the ‘mission’!
Mumbai is the capital city of Maharashtra- a state in Western India. The city is a melting pot of contrasting culture. It is home to internationally renowned elite personalities and simultaneously also houses Asia’s largest slum- Dharaavi. As I zoomed through the Mumbai traffic I was organizing my ideas on what all should I capture on my Nikon L810. Being born and brought up in Mumbai, I very well know that between the extremities of the city, there exists a common life which remains invisible to the world. There is much more to the city than the traffic jams, pollution, poverty and terrorism, that has blacklisted this city known for its resilience and a ‘never give up’ attitude.
I had already decided to free-flowingly click snaps without any brainy rules. I allowed my heart to click all what touched it that day.
The first photograph was of the Afghan Church. This church, situated in South Mumbai, was built by the British to commemorate the dead of the disastrous defeat in the First Afghan War of 1838. The church’s peaceful surrounding had a calming effect on me.
My next click was of the Taj Mahal Hotel, which overlooks the Gateway of India & the Arabian Sea.
The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the landing of His Majesty King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. The magnificent hotel was getting ready for the New Year Eve night celebrations. Both, the elite and the street children, seen in the vicinity of the hotel, seem to have their own plans for that evening. Unlike the elites, I had direct access to the street kids. After a few clicks, I shared some biscuits and cake with them. It was a rewarding experience for me to see a smile on their faces, as they munched the pastries merrily.
My next click was the ancient Hindu temple of Walkeshwar (an avatar of Lord Shiva). The temple location is popularly known as Baanganga. There is a mythological reference to it in the Ramayana- one of the great epics of India.
There were geese floating merrily in the cool waters of the artificial tank which is in front of the temple. After fetching few food stuffs, they seemed to have their own celebration plans that evening! The vendors around the temple too seemed hopeful of making few extra rupees as they shut shop for the year that day.
Lastly as I saw the sun setting behind me, I passed a Muslim holy shrine named the Haaji Ali Dargah. It is located on a mini island, off the Worli sea-face. In spite of the haze, I quickly took a snap of the shrine. As I was returning home, I realized that my camera had unknowingly united the essence of three major world religions!
Feeling spiritually content, I felt it was a perfect end to the last day of the year. As if the spirit of Mumbai had remotely guided my heart to click the snaps and sign off for the year with hope for a better tomorrow and faith in our roots that hold us tight in thick and thin. Just like it happens in life, I realized that if one peeps into the city’s kaleidoscope, one would gradually explore a beautiful order in chaos. I look forward to turn the kaleidoscope for my readers, as I write from Mumbai with love!