mumbai

Rahman’s Mumbai and Rahman’s Delhi

Is it just me who associates music and songs with the city it’s based on? In the recent past its been happening a lot. While travelling in the local with my headphones plugged in, I was listening to songs from Delhi 6. And they refused to gel in with the scenery around me – the faint sound of the train in the background and the rain clad geography of Mumbai. Delhi is different. Delhi has that old world charm that everyone falls in love with gradually. Mumbai is to meant to be fallen in love with in an instant. Here is some music that will refuse to associate with the city it wasn’t based in. Trying to include only Rahman’s music.

Delhi:

Mumbai:

Just btw O saya is the perfect song to listen to in the local because it is intensified by the background sound of the local, giving us the effect of a real life bass! ๐Ÿ˜€ Just Epic!

For the Bombay Nights:

Advertisements

Everyday

It takes me about ten and a half songs to reach my office. Half because one of those songs were hindi and they are longer than english songs. I miss about 3 locals everyday because they are too crowded for me to get in. I catch the 9:37 Ladies special. On first sight it looks like patriarchy has been overturned because I see more women than men travelling through public transport. It is the same everywhere. In the bus I used to take earlier, about 5 to 6 seats were reserved for women. But it hardly served any purpose because all the other “unreserved” seats were actually “reserved” for men. Even while I was standing I stood near the reserved seats like all other women because those were reserved for you so why would you want to take the normal seats. The one time that I took a normal seat, a guy beside me commented on the clothes I was wearing, telling me to adjust them.

Well, so that is how everyday journeys turn out to be. Hoping for some real changes in the future. Though even I am doubtful about how they should be implemented.

The Taxiwallahs/Autowallahs of Mumbai

This has been on the list for a very long time. It was time I write about it. In all the cities I have lived in, Mumbai has been the city where I have travelled by such varied means of public transport that it is almost crazy! Autos, taxis, ferries, metro and the local.. the monstrous journeys in the local, will come back to this later.

So in Delhi, it used to be really mechanical, you hire an auto, haggle, fight, reach your destination and pray to God that you reached the destination safely, specially if it’s a cycle-rickshaw which are mostly inspired from Fast and the Furious stunt scenes. I kid you not. They don’t use brakes, they just turn the wheel perpendicularly to stop!

In Mumbai, the first time I travelled was using a local. My father went in to men’s compartment and I went into the women’s compartment. It was really weird, women kept asking me if I had to get down at the next stop. There was space to sit and yet no one wanted to, unlike the Delhi Metro where grabbing the seat is almost like a game of Dog in the Bone!

The Auto Rickshaws run only on Meter! The best part about Mumbai. If you go and ask how much they will take to reach a certain place, they will be surprised because only the meter knows! So Mumbai is a really safe city compared to any other. I used to take rickshaws alone at 2 and 3 at night to reach back home. Once I took a rickshaw from a friend’s house to my home, it was a new route and I was dazed (due to some obvious reasons) and I just couldn’t figure out where I was going. I finally saw a familiar landmark and directed the driver. He had figured out that I wasn’t really in my senses and when he dropped me on the other side of the road, he was really concerned. He told me to get back into the auto and he took a U-turn from further down the road and dropped me at my doorstep. I was so thankful. He didn’t even ask me for extra money for taking a detour. Now tell me if this could ever happen in Delhi!

Then there are the friendly UP-Bihar taxi drivers. Trust me you can find no better entertainers once they realise you are from their hometown. I once met a Taxi-Driver who literally had a house 2 kilometre from my house in Lucknow. And her daughter went to a school right next to mine. He was so ecstatic on knowing I was from Lucknow, he almost passed through the destination he was supposed to drop us at!

All in all I have never had bad experiences, except in the local where the struggle for your life is real! Shit gets serious when you travel in a Mumbai Local. Once I was hanging by the handle bars above, LITERALLY, because the crowd was so much you couldn’t even place your feet on the ground. It felt like I had to cross a row of Monkey bars to reach the door.

Trust me, if you’re a newbie, leave early and take the bus. ๐Ÿ˜›

Writer’s block

It is time I acknowledge it and tell you that that time is here. I can no more write. Needless to say, that is the reason I haven’t been updating this blog. Another reason for the same is that I am being forced to write scripts and tests forcibly for interviews and opportunities elsewhere. They take up all my energy and I am left with nothing to write. Any leads on how to solve this problem are welcome. It’s getting harder by the day. And the worst feeling is that I can’t write even when I want to. I do write the title and a few words and then I get lost. You won’t know how bad it is until it happens to you. I am sure there are a million other kinds of blocks that people face everyday. So maybe, you already know. ๐Ÿ˜›

Mumbai Montage

Last night, me and my friend decided to go on a long drive on a bike in Mumbai. He came to pick me up at two a.m. and then it began. It was a chilly night and the roads, except for the highway were mostly deserted. If it were a movie, I would say it was all in black and yellow with just a few colours and bokehs sprewn here and there. We reached Bandra, after being searched by the police once for signs of drunken drinking. I realised it was a horrible horrible job. Instead of using breath analysers, a policemen would come near you and smell your breath in the pretense of asking your name. It ought to be included in the list for the “worst jobs around the world.” Then there was the ocean. Owing to low tide, the ocean was a huge and still mass of water. The moon was almost full. And believe me when I say it looked like somebody jad mashed up pieces of glasses and spread the shards on a huge black canvas which shimmered and sparkled in the black of the night. And it was hard to believe that this was Bandra. Then came Haji Ali, the glittering blue lights, the colours I talked about earlier, in the midst of the huge canvas. Slowly the architecture begins to change. There is an oncoming of tall buildings with darkened hollows for windows. The horizon is not at all visible, unlike the seaface earlier. And suddenly we have marine drive. It only gets better. The air gets colder than ever before. The huge body of water looks like an even more beautiful artwork. The moon in all its glory, seemed to be proud of its beauty. Then we came across the beautiful colonial past, the architectural heritage of Mumbai. In the dark of the knight they looked like those ancient black and white pictures that we now find printed on postcards. It was nearly 5 a.m. by this time and the beautiful highcourt decided to tell this to us with its beautiful chiming in the silent of the night. We decided to take a break and have some food with some caramel tea (I named it because of its peculiar taste) at an Irani cafe which was the only one open at the time. And finally after that we made our way back home. It was a beautiful night, a night to remember. And it felt as if everything fell into piece just to make it perfect for us, like those five planets that have aligned in the same line for the first time in decades.

Mehrooni

It’s one of the best short movies I have watched in a very long time. And trust me, it will make you shed a few tears – minimum. The narration – beautiful beyond words, the music – so touching, the story – very natural. This movie will make you regret all those moments when you wasted time being upset with your loved ones.

The love for Bombay, it’s little stories, hidden in every nook and corner, specially in it’s lifeline – comes out through the narration. I looked up the director and there was a quote by him which said “We don’t live in Mumbai, Mumbai lives in us.”

If you liked this one, you might also like

It’s presentation is what really appealed to me. It really reminds you of the era of Charlie Chaplin, and more recently of the movie ‘The Artist’. It’s good to see Indian movies experimenting with this form. Royal Stag, you are doing some good work. ๐Ÿ˜›

Book Store Visits

If there’s one thing I could spend eternity doing it is this! It is an absolute pleasure for me to roam around in book stores, aimlessly, looking at books, sometimes smelling them. I have obviously lost count of the number of book stores and libraries that I have been to but I remember where and when I bought each book that I possess. After all every book is like a baby.

Let me tell you, not all book store are the same. You can judge a book store solely by one section in the store. For instance, I have been to several ‘Crossword’, ‘Landmark’, etc. book stores and all of them house the exact same books. But there was this one book store in Bandra, a quaint little one, and the owner had handpicked every book on the shelf and God was it amazing! I had heard about every book there and all of them had good reviews from people who had read them. It wasn’t even like I had only seen them online or in passing. He even had special books on Mumbai which are hard to be found anywhere else.

Then there is the Book Market near Flora Fountain in Colaba, a heaven for broke bibliophiles. You name it, and they have almost always got it, for prices as low as a Wodehouse Omnibus for 300 bucks. If you can’t find anything specific just go to “Kitaabkhana” nearby and place your order and they will even call you when they get that book in stock.

There was also one book store in Kasol which I really really wanted to visit. Every cafe you went to, people were reading one book or another and since the Israelis who frequent that place live there for several months, the book store was the only place that could provide them with good literature at a place as inaccessible as Kasol. So if anybody manages to find that place open some day, please buy me a book from there, I will be forever in debt. Though I have to confess I was more curious about the genius notes that the potheads had scribbled than in the books itself. ๐Ÿ˜€

Home is where the Heart is

So I am all done with my documentary on the M-ward of Mumbai. More about that later. For many days I have been planning to write on all the places I have lived in. ย After reading Varun Grover‘s article, I was finally really inspired to do the same. So here’s a short personal account of all the places where I have had a temporary home in! ๐Ÿ™‚

VARANASI

I was born in the city of Temples and Ghats. I was too little to remember anything but I have since visited it twice and it’s a beautiful city if you want to laze around and just sit at the ghats and read a book. The city in itself is a madhouse, too much traffic and too many people. But that is the beauty of old cities. There is a mix of culture and modernity that you just cannot find anywhere else. I have somehow always been kind of proud that I was born there because of it’s rich cultural heritage. Now, when I pass through the areas where we lived earlier, my parents point out those places to me, the place where I was born, the place where they came to have lunch every weekend, the temple they visited on their birthdays and so on.

KANPUR

So my next stop was Kanpur where I spent 7 years and changed 3 schools and 2 homes, as far as I remember. I made a lot of friends, my memories of which are really vague now. I am obviously not in touch with any of them anymore, but I do remember that I was close with a lot of them! Now a relative of mine lives in the same locality and it beings back so many memories. I was a single child back at that time and the games I played at that time alone, the swing in my porch and the bees that stung me, the neighbours I had and the cricket matches my uncle took me to, the mix tapes we made and the terrace without the railing, the diwali with my cousins, the hiding in the cupboards, the fun I had in dusting the corridors and then riding my bicycle (with stoppers) there, the rickshaw that came to pick me up every morning and the dreaded swimming classes, the hatred for school and love for cable TV, the visits to relatives’ houses and meeting and forgetting people, the sweets that Grandpa bought everytime he visited and the dosa place he took me to, near my house. Omg, I miss Kanpur. Now when I go back, I hate it, because of the crowd and the pollution and zero traffic sense. But now that I sit and reminiscence about it, those were beautiful days. The days of carefree childhood.

LALITPUR

Lalitpur is a quaint little town near Jhansi, and it is also close to maternal home, while Kanpur was close to my paternal home. My sister was also born there. I lived there for 2 years. My memories of that place are mostly of my neighbours, with whom I spent most of my time. We used to play all evening until it got dark. It was also the time when everyone had those video game consoles and I had one too and it was also the time when I watched Nickelodeon for the first time and went gaga over it, the first time when I made a best friend, Divya, only to lose her in a year, the first time I stayed with another family, all by myself, because my mother was in the hospital during her pregnancy. There was a guest house next to my home, which belonged to a relative. The garden was open to use for all and that is where I learnt to ride a bike.

BANGALORE

This was a major shift. We had shifted from a town to a metro city. The energy was crazy and so was life. I was juggling between classes and computer classes, book clubs and extra co-curricular activities and ace-ing everything except academics. There was a library right behind my house which ย I unfortunately found out too late, there was a Punjabi Restaraunt near our house which made the most amazing shahi paneer ever. My father took us to new places every weekend and we travelled like crazy – to Tirupathi, Nilgiri, Ooty, Munnar, etc. I went to this amazing book club where they gave us cold drink and cake at the end of every session. I found some of my friends from those days on FaceBook. ย Those two years were undoubtedly the best years of my life. I often wish that we had never shifted, but apparently my parents didn’t like living so far away from their own families so we had to come back to North India.ย Now, I think to myself, that maybe I did the right thing by shifting because I feel that Bangalore had given me what I needed in terms of developing my personality, but had I stayed, I couldn’t have fought for what I loved and figured out what to do in life without anything being imposed on me. It is difficult to explain, but being in Lucknow gave me much more freedom to choose whatever I wanted to do next in life.

LUCKNOW

Lucknow was a new low after Bangalore but I gradually got used to it. I have spent the maximum part of my life there and that is where home is even now. 8 years in Lucknow, and I was a grown person too, I remember almost everything but mostly I remember hating my school. In the last four years that I stayed there, I made some really good friends and that is the only redeeming fact about that school. All in all the city is a great place to live in. It gives me respite from the rush of the big cities I go back from every holiday.

DELHI

I had entered college and was living in the Hostel, a much different home than any I had lived in before. It was a big, bad city and I was a little girl. With time it grew on me and I began falling in love with the freedom I had got for the first time in my life. This thirst for freedom just became bigger and that is how I moved on to the next city.

MUMBAI

My present home, one year in a flat and this year in a Hostel. Mumbai has given me the freedom I could have only dreamt of, friends that I know I will cherish for life and memories and experiences that have made me who I am now. It’s only when you live here, that you will know why it is called the City of Dreams. Every other person is a walking and talking book, whose pages and stories will amaze you. Here I am to be another book in the library, hoping to be the one most issued and to be an inspiration for other writers. ๐Ÿ™‚

“Bombay-70” and Indian Eminems

I watched the most amazing documentary today, even though a very short one. We had a presentation today in which we had to present our proposal for the next documentary that we will be working upon and we came across these amazing Mumbai rappers from the area popularly called Bombay-70 during research for the same. I was blown away by the amount of talent that these people have. Their music is now being produced by SONY Music so trust me, they should be taken seriously. Their raps are based on their lives, the lives that they have lived in these slums. It is so adorable how as a kid he fell into bad company and once even went to jail but then one day he realised that he could do better and he started writing. They grew up in slums and had almost no access to resources and yet were dedicated enough to do something for the society through their art. When he got hold of an I-Pad, given to him by his father, he started shooting and putting up videos and then there was no looking back for him.

Here is the short documentary about the rapper Naezy followed by some raps by him.

P.S. (Spoilers Ahead): After watching the movie, I was just lost for words. The part where her mother tells about his son writing rap and how people confused it with rape was just hilarious. Now, since we are working on a movie around carrom clubs, which are an integral part of Mumbai, we look forward to doing something like this for our movie as well. The use of the language is just spectacular. The part where he talks about the change in language from English to whatever the common lingo was so thoughtful. I am in love with Naezy, I am sure you will love him too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Children and Art

I will tell you frankly, I don’t like children. I was an ‘angelic child’, if I may say so, and that is why when I see naughty children, I lose my temper. So today was a funny day, we are working on an article for a web magazine that revolves around children who live on the street and their dreams of a home. So we went out to record a video as a part of which we gave children blank sheets on which they could draw their “dream-homes”.

Some really interesting things that I noticed wasย that each one of them was using a scale and a pencil. I on the other hand would have gone straight into drawing the thing. It all depends on how you were taught to do a particular thing. In school you were always taught to colour in between the lines, but sometimes I think it is okay if you go beyond the lines. Anyway, so they began drawing and there were some beautiful drawings that they came up with (which I will be uploading later). One of them drew a haunted house. Well, there is always that one person who wants to go on a path far removed from the normal. Then there was just one who drew his house in the mountains in the midst of nature. It was disheartening to see that. But I guess there is no one to blame, in a concrete jungle like Mumbai it is hardly possible for children like them to imagine themselves surrounded by nature. There was a girl who drew a castle for herself. Her grandmother couldn’t stop gushing over her artistic capabilities and forced her granddaughters to draw something and to show it to the camera even when they were reluctant.

Then there were the children who were very young and couldn’t draw and just could not stay away from the camera and the tripod no matter how much you tried. It was so hard to shoot the children who were drawing because the ten other around them created such a ruckus. We somehow got done with it. When the rain started and we had to run away to save the camera, it was then that the parents stopped bringing their children to us. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant experience and I even made a friend by putting in almost all the rings in one of those handheld water-ring-toss games. ๐Ÿ˜›