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Tying Your Life to a City in Transition

December 8, 2011



November 252

Mumbai is a city of transitions. A constant influx of Indians from other parts of the country, searching for fortune and work. Constant outflow of the nouveau riche, in search of education and designer clothes in the US and UK. Steady inflow of lost students, hippies, and religious seekers hoping to take a piece of the Indian Mystery and understand it, make it their own. Trickle of international professionals sent by big companies to gobble a slice of the seemingly unending Indian growth opportunity.

The city’s inhabitants are often short term guests. I did not count myself among this group, expecting that things would be different if I was one of those few expats who had no set time frame, no “reason” for being in India beyond the fact that well, it’s India.

Even when you set up a life here, everything remains transitory. Friends come in and out of your life quickly- they’re visiting family, their contract is up, they got malaria, they’ve run of of money, or sometimes life in India just beat them down and they need to return to the comforts of home to pick up the pieces.

Family visits and leaves with a slightly more realistic picture of life in the Maximum city: no no, they’ll reassure everyone at home, the snake charmers are fake and she doesn’t wear sari and salwar to work.  But she doesn’t get to eat beef…and the bathrooms don’t have toilet paper. Can you believe it?

November 253

Even the seasons change your life completely. Monsoon brings cooler temperatures but shuts you indoors, complaining 24/7 about how hard it is to manage. Constantly wiping mold off treasures from home, and eyeing the Air Conditioner wondering why it has failed to combat the furry green growth in the rooms.  Winter, usually the onslaught of the snowy Christmas season, brings sunshine and cool evenings. Your life moves back outdoors and friends are suddenly available on weeknights. Rejuvenated, slightly sunburned, you nurse your social calendar back from the brink of solitude.

I’ve worked hard to embrace the unpredictable nature of Bombay and find some sense of permanence and normalcy here. But no matter how fervently I call it home, how fiercely I love it or how comfortable I become here, a real Mumbaiker knows I’m not “of this place only.” 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2011 5:45 am

    I love the opening paragraph. So many people are always leaving from Bombay, and so many people are always coming. Those of us who stay here can just stand in a daze. There are a lot of challenges that come with that transitory population… but hey, at least we do ‘maximum enjoy’ while we can.

  2. December 26, 2011 7:53 am

    I myself have been one of those specs of transition!


  1. The need for consistency in a place of transition « littlebirdbombay

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