Bombay city is so weird. You either hate it or love it, there is no in-between.
Me? I love it!
The convenience of the sea-link. The Western Express highway that is a literal divider of East and West Bombay. The Eastern Express highway that takes you to places you don’t really go to. The Eastern Freeway, connecting suburbs to the business district.
For me, a city has always been defined by its roads. Bangalore by Ring Road, Bombay by its various iterations of the highway, Chennai by Mount Road.
Then there is the divide of economic strata. In Bombay, there is no real divide. The lines blur. You see affluence and poverty in one view. The mansions, the high rise towers, the shanty towns, the pavement dwellers. All in one glance. You don’t even need to turn your neck.
I have travelled through the Bandra-Worli sea link several times. Always in awe of its Instagrammable beauty. But I never really looked towards that tiny fisherman’s village at the Worli end of this behemoth of a bridge. My photographer Deepak Singh tried to convince me a zillion times to evaluate the village as a backdrop to my shoots and I never gave in. Never, until this day when I was visiting Bombay on personal errands!
The warm smiles from complete strangers, the divide by the sea where men and women had lines drawn by boulders, the piping hot vadapav. The beauty of the sea, mixed with the discomfort of lesser than hospitable living conditions. All merged into one place. It is so weird, these people who live by the sea may not drive a car at all (fancy or not) and live in a little structure they call home. But the view from their windows or roofs is of the Arabian sea in all its glory! A view like that would other wise cost a bunch of crores I would think. The shore is their balcony, the ocean their playground!
This is why I love Bombay. It accepts you. No matter what you look like, how much you earn, what your dislikes are. It just takes you all in. It doesn’t hate. It doesn’t judge.
All it asks in return? You are as accepting of its humidity.