Saturday, 6 October 2018

The maximum city

"A city that never sleeps still called the city of dreams." The cosmopolitan glory and the mesmerizing views of the seashore engulf the unforgiving nature of life that breaths in the narrow streets of the city. After a 2-hour flight journey, we arrived at the airport and this city was celebrating the Muharram and Ganpati Visarjan at the same time.  From what I have seen in the movies and what I have heard about the experiences of others, I had a preoccupied mindset regarding what I was about to witness. I was sure about the intoxicating weather, the maniac traffic, the kaleidoscopic skyscrapers, the Dabangg Mumbai Police, the squalid Slums, the lifeline of Bombay: Local trains, the incredible Dhobi Ghats & the six-sigma certified Dabbawalas and so much more,

View from the waiting area for the arrival of cabs/taxies
I have been to airports in other cities in India, but the difference here, I noticed was the separate floor in the adjacent building to the airport for the arrival of cabs/taxies. On the way to the hotel, the balmy evening with the fresh breeze from the sea calmed my exciting nerves. As it was time to cross one more thing from the Bucket list: to experience the vastness of sea and tranquility of beaches. Next morning we ditched the pre-planned visit to Matheran (Hill station near Mumbai) and decided that for the next 2 days we are just going to explore Mumbai. Like every city, Mumbai will also give two contrasting tastes within one city i.e. the Northside (usually the messy) & the Southside (the Classy). The Bandra-Worli Sea link bridges this divide for Mumbai. 

Day 1: We decided to explore the Northside i.e. Aksa Beach, Madh Island, Versova, Juhu Beach and finally the Bandstand. 

I have always believed that when the destination is not off-beat than choose the timings when half the city is sleeping and for the matter of fact most of the Mumbaikars are night owls. The Western Ghats which are known for its captivating sunsets, but to me, serene mornings have their own beauty. We hop on to the Auto rickshaw and to my surprise, unlike Delhite's Autos, the Autos here actually run on meter and the drivers are keen to share their knowledge about the city. Most of the places here in Mumbai are famous not necessarily because they are worth visiting but they became popular because of the Bollywood. Same goes for the Aksa Beach which became the part of must-visit beaches after the song from the movie "God Tussi Great Ho".  (Traveler’s Alert) Most of the beaches here are not clean at all due to the amount of waste dumped daily in the sea. You might experience the foul smell of rotten dead fishes and a lot of trash kissing the shoreline along the waves. And, if you visit during the festive season you might be baffled to see your God's idols lying in bits and pieces on the shore. Despite all its wrongs, Mumbai and people here are full of exuberance and nothing could stop these kids from playing & standing tall against those strong splashing waves. 


In the hustle and bustle of the life here, people look for quick-budgetary-filling food options. During those 2 days, I tried Vada Pav at many places (from the street joints to Airport lounge) and realized that it was as simple as any other street foods yet very few people have mastered the art of making it right. The quickest, pocket-friendly and on-the-go-snack that you can enjoy anytime and anywhere.

Image Source

For the morning walk, we had the whole beach to ourselves and to feel the shifting sand beneath our feet as we stood there to gaze into the boundless sea. We spent some time collecting the Seashells of different shapes, size and colour. After that, we boarded the cheap-crowded-fishy smelling ferry as it was supposed to take only 10% of travel time as opposed to the road. The next in the things to do list was the Juhu Beach and the iconic Prithvi Theatre (again recommended by the friend). The restaurant & bookstore inside this 40 years old theatre makes it the go-to place for the esoteric crowd that can read/talk/watch the cinema for hours while enjoying the reasonably priced variety of food. (Alas!! we were too early for the Shows that run normally in the evenings but the food was great)



When I saw the weather forecast in the morning it was supposed to be mild rain showers in the afternoon but the heat waves led to the change in plans. We searched for the nearest cinema hall and luckily found the seats for the recently released Horror comedy "Stree".  The eerie yet humorous plot throughout the movie and the bemusing end made sure that our afternoon was well spent. Now it was time to experience the north-south divide I talked about earlier. Even the experienced Auto rickshaw driver could not give (or might not want to give) the convincing answer regarding why the Autos are not allowed beyond the Bandra-Worli Sea link. Finally, we decided to go to the Bandstand- Mumbai's famous lover's point. The Bandstand Promenade is a kilometre long walkway that ends at the Bandra Land's End, where Bandra Fort, a Garden, the Sea and the house of Superstar Shahrukh Khan (Mannat) all meet. One of the things I noticed was that surprisingly people were standing in a queue to get onto the bus.  It was time for us to call it the day so we took the cab to the Hotel to keep this trip as offbeat only. 

Day 2: It was time to cross the bridge and explore Southside ( Haji Ali Dargah, Maratha Mandir, RBI Headquarter Building (personal choice), CST Railway Station, Gateway of India, Elephanta Caves, The Taj and the Marine Drive)



We rented the Ola cab for the day, unaware of the fact the parking charges in Mumbai (especially the Southside) will burn a hole in my pocket. We were delighted to witness the engineering marvel Bandra-Worli sea link that weighs equivalent to that of 50,000/- African Elephants. Our first stop was Haji Ali Dargah, an Indo-Islamic architecture connected to the mainland through the causeway which gets submerged during the high tides. This shrine draws people from all faiths and watching the city from the shire with the waves all around is usually an experience visitors tend to remember. (If you are interested in Qawwalis than try scheduling the visit in the evening).  



Hardly any institutions have such an impressive success with the decentralized system than the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai. I got to know about them from the Ted Talk and since then I am a big fan of the accurate coding system for delivering the tiffin boxes using the same local transport. As a tribute to their service, a glittering statue stands tall at the Haji Ali chowk.

Not many food outlets were open by that time so we decided to have our breakfast at McDonald's (They had Burger with Masala Dosa patties and believe me it was delicious).  It was around 10:30, still, an hour before the show of blockbuster DDLJ would run for the umpteenth time in iconic Maratha Mandir. Therefore, we decided to take a roundabout and move to our next destination i.e. the grand CST railway station, the symbol of imperial architecture marvel included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With its sheer size and the amount of detailing, it is very hard to capture its beauty in one shot (Even more beautiful with the lighting effects in the night). 




Now it was time to witness the Gateway of India (Fact: It is known as the symbol of Triumph as well as the downfall of the British). To beat the afternoon heat and crowd, taking the ferry ride to the Island was the better option.  I got a little sceptic regarding the way tickets for the ferry to Elephanta Cave were being sold by the hawkers (not through any Kiosk/ticket window). But when I enquired the policeman, he assured me you can buy the tickets from anyone, they all are authorized. It was approximately one hour ride to the Island (11 km from the mainland) and to enjoy the panoramic view from the top of the ferry one need to pay a premium charge of just Rs. 10/-. 



Far from the noisy and crowded city, this was a totally different experience. Somewhere in the middle of the limitless sea which looks calm yet, you can feel the power stored beneath the surface. For the first time, I felt the magnitude of the Mumbai Harbour and the humongous ships (that can easily accommodate the population of my village). From the jetty to the foothill, you can take the toy-train ride of 10 minutes (Rs. 10/- for to & fro journey) & save your energy to climb the 120 steps to reach the cave.

 The history of these mysterious caves is unclear but the stories about how they were discovered are interesting. While coming back, the artefacts made of precious stone/pearls lure you to buy at least one as a token of memory. 




Finally, when the day and the trip was coming close to the end it was time for the royal treat at the grand hotel The Taj Mahal. (The security checking there must have increased after the horrific incident of 26/11 Terrorist attack.)


Its beauty is as perfect from the inside as it is exquisite from the outside. I have been to other fine dining restaurants but the impeccable service here fascinated me the most. After the dinner, a long walk at the Marine Drive appreciating the sea and skyline was like a cherry on the cake.




In the night, few places here find a new life & look more alive than ever. Be it the Marine drive that transforms into Queen's necklace, the Banda-Worli Sea link with its architectural beauty or the CST railway station as an antique gift from the history. Engrossed with all kinds of thoughts, the cab drove back to the hotel and thousands of city lights were reflecting off the window. Mumbai, the city full of stories gave us a wonderful memory to cherish throughout our lives.  

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Hampi

As I walked on the land 
Containing ruins of culture and history 
The morning rays started 
Reflecting the enshrined spiritual beauty

The silent solitude of unscathed monuments 
Testament to the grandeur of glorious empires

Tracing along the whimsical Tungabhadra river
Stone chariot, dancing figures and the musical pillars
Scattered granite boulders, rocks and stones
Alive in mythological story, I never felt alone

A ride in coracle boat
Soothing and exciting at the same time
Watching the sunset over the mountain
Slowly I sublimed

Astonished by the architectural majesty 

Inspired my thoughts, as I write this poetry






















Saturday, 5 November 2016

Longing for love

The tiny splats of morning rain
Weaving a gauze of fine mist
Reminds me of your sweet lips
Waiting so long to be kissed

Droplets tumble down in gentled sighs
Slowly settles with its glints and glows
Reflecting the depth of your beautiful eyes
Hiding the emotions like a simple prose

Hazy memories hovering like the dark clouds
And dimly dawn still prolonging the light
So, I close my eyes again and dream
To feel you close and hold you tight

Friday, 28 October 2016

Photographs

Photographs are the return tickets
To the moments otherwise gone
To feel the warmth of your lover
While looking at them, all alone

Even the imperfect clicks
Takes you to the perfect moments
Just like the magic tricks
Forever they capture the romance

With every flick a new emotion
Tingles in the depth of our heart
For others, tiny details might not matter
But for you thoses are the most beautiful part

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Just move on

All you ever see is my disdainful behavior
And now I don't know what else to say
I don't know why you can't grasp
That we no longer deal it the same way.

Every time we talked about us
We end up with more hate and swear
You don't seem to understand
The different scars, we both wear

Thousands of time I told you that you are worth more
With a hope someday you'll believe it
Be happy about the time spent together
And proud with this decision, like the way I see it

You don't have to hold on to what's long gone
Leave your past back, live your life and just move on

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The monk

Distinguish looks with his entwined long braid
And sandalwood paste on the broad forehead
His eyes looks tired and sleepy
Yet his mind is calm
No desires, no affairs, no distraction
Just breathing and chanting his psalm

No bewildering thoughts about the relationships
No debt to pay and no rules to follow about how to live
The lone wanderer sailing without a direction
Can take decisions without a fear of rejection

Gave up the luxuries of life
Only a single cloth to wrap his body
Now the whole world is his home
And he has found himself in an unsung melody

Saturday, 22 October 2016

City of pearls, Briyani and Nizams

After exploring almost every monument more than once (and some of them, more than, I can keep the count) for last one and half year in Delhi, a city where ancient and modern blend seamlessly together, now it’s time to move to a new city for next three months for my mandatory training of Central Secretariat service. Like always did lots of research over the internet about Hyderabad (the city of pearls and Nizams), already hooked by the legacy of magnificent palaces, mosques and tombs on the one side of the city to the other pole- Hi-Tech City“Cyberbad” with malls, multiplexes, clubs, pubs and restaurants.
Earlier in my life, I had lived in Jaipur, Kolkata and Delhi, each of them has its own pros and cons.
I love Jaipur, mostly because it's the least crowded and clean city(after Chandigarh). A city, I can relate to the perfect virgin bride that typical Indian family search for with all the good qualities.
But the Kolkata to me is more or like the one night stand always compelling to stay a little more.
And the Delhi, well it's the capital of my life, I have been to other places but every time I come here, it's like a homecoming for me. I know it's the most polluted and crowded one of all, but this city is more than just an experience. Delhi is like the affair for the lifetime.


Not much, I had heard about Hyderabad other than its famous biryanis     (I hope, the first biryani I eat there, live up to its name). So for next 3 months, I'll be strolling in the streets, parks and the monuments, where, once upon a time Qutb shah and Nizams walked and I love places with undeniably admirable beauty and bewildered iconic past.

Hyderabad now the capital of newly built state Telangana but the vehicle license plates still referred to AP(Andhra Pradesh ) so not much changed there . For me almost everything was about to change for next 3 months, the food, the weather, the culture.
But, what I am going to miss the most is talking to her while looking into her eyes and watch her smiling face and holding hands and long walks.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Passion of love


We lay in a blanket under the moon and stars
the white-silvery light reflecting off your skin
Highlighting some areas and ghosting some
As I explore you like a place I have never been

My fingers skating along your smooth curves
and the excitement of joy I can feel in your nerves
Light kisses trailing along the chromatic line
this pleasure is like a hidden treasure, hard to find

Whispering the poetic rhythms in you ear
You know my every next movement like a seer
Now our entangled delight reaching their top
you want me more and more and not to stop

Slowly the irresistible passion of love pouring out
and our exuberant souls flouting like feathery clouds

Friday, 26 August 2016

Just to tell you

Words are not enough
To show my love
But most of the time
It's only words with what I am left with
Just the thoughts of telling you my feelings makes the heart melt
I try to string the words to show what I had always felt
"All this time
about you about us"

Like, how many times I have tried to mend
To say something meaningful & be a good friend

But the time passed and gap widened
We hardly spoke and now I am frightened
Frightened that I might not say right words in right order
As this gap of silence is becoming deeper and wider

Now not saying anything is easy

& the seldom smiles we share are the only treat 

Be happy and live

In all the agonies, anxiety & expectation
where everyone trying to make reputation
So busy achieving the delusion goals
hardly had time to care about own souls

The simple pleasures felt as an innocent child
were long forgotten in this race
The responsibilities that came with youth
left no time to enjoy that important phase

Now feeling betrayed by the passing time
as losing energy & turning old
Even with a purse full of dimes
can’t do anything with the earned gold

And the answers he was searching
were not so profound and deep
In those last few moments left, he realized

all he ever had to do was “be happy and live” 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Life as we know it


Learning the bitter truths and the hideous lies
Know my mistakes but seems hard to apologize
Hardly happy but always wear the mask of smile
As materialist world has overshadowed the beauty inside

My innocence is robbed, I am no more pure
And the soul is trying hard to feel secure
As things happening that I never desire
Always in a quest that might inspire

Living along just day by day
It’s unpredictable yet all part of play