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Weekend

Updated on: Saturday, December 25, 2021, 09:12 PM IST

Single in the City: An ode to Mumbai meri jaan

Mumbai did feel different when I came back almost after a year from Kolkata, but nothing had prepared me for the shock I was about to receive
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It was 4 pm on a weekday afternoon. I had just finished shooting with Vikrant Massey and Kriti Kharbanda at one of the Juhu five-stars. It was a regular monsoon afternoon in Mumbai — with deliciously overcast skies, greenery all around and promises of rain. You know, just the kinds which draw you to the beach and some Mumbaiyya food like pav bhaji. 

It had started drizzling when I stepped out, not the kind that will drench you completely, but just about tiny droplets falling from the sky that will allow you to blissfully ignore that kitschy Bollywood art umbrella that I had been carrying along, mostly as a cool prop. Nevertheless, I decided to walk down to the beach, already salivating thinking about pav bhaji, which I had been missing all this while sitting in my hometown in Kolkata, bracing out the second wave of Covid. 

Mumbai did feel different when I came back almost after a year from Kolkata, but nothing had prepared me for the shock I was about to receive. Juhu Chowpatty, the place which earned flak multiple times in the past one year (or was it two years? Who knows! In my mind, I am still processing 2019 like countless others) for teeming with crowd when we are repeatedly being coaxed by everyone from the Prime Minister to the Bollywood prima donnas, who are busy attending parties themselves, completely empty, with hardly 10-12 people around. 

Worse, just as my tummy growled in anticipation of pav bhaji from my most favourite place in Mumbai, I looked up to see that the stalls were shut. But paapi pet ka sawaal, I tried to reach as close to the barricade as possible (yes there was one), to see if just, luck by chance, some stall was open. But, no such luck. It was not the Mumbai I knew and loved — teeming with people, vibrant and full of life, even in the wee hours when I could just hop on to a rickshaw and tell him ‘Bhaiyya aise hi ghumna hai. Bandstand chalo, fir Lokhandwala wapas aate hai’. 

Over the next few days, it started hitting me even more. Shops shut, restaurants open only for lunch and shutting down at 3 pm and that too on weekdays, which meant the eating-out option was practically non-existent. With work from home option and the entertainment industry just about limping back to life, audition calls had dried up too. Which meant, most friends decided to pack up and leave for their homes — saving on gihugic rents. Andheri and Bandra felt like ghost towns. A drive to Colaba Causeway made me sadder. No stalls open, adda zones like Leo and Mondy’s shut, other restaurants shut by 9 pm. So, if you did feel like having dinner post 9 pm, you would have to take the backdoor entry to Gokul’s. 

Was this the Mumbai I knew and loved? The city which I explored every weekday and weekend, planning impromptu day trips for my friends and discovering new places to eat, shop and party? Made new friends, some to let go of and some to keep for life? Worked, changed jobs, figured out new routes to go to work, found friends and confidantes in colleagues, battled good jobs and bad? 

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The lockdown might have lifted, with the city gradually getting back to life, but will we ever get the old Mumbai back? Is the old Mumbai, or Bombae as I call it, back? I plan to get back to exploring and finding out. This time, on my own — without the friends I am used to having by my side, planning impromptu post-midnight parties, going on trips and finding new eateries. Will I find newer reasons to fall in love with my city again? Let’s find out.

(Calcutta girl for whom Bombae is love, Promita Mukherjee is a senior journalist and editor who has lived and worked in three metro cities. Exploring a place and its lesser and well-known attractions is what she loves doing. A dog parent, you will often find her at a beach with a box of cupcakes in hand or at one of Mumbai's several party hotspots with a Cosmo. Follow her adventures on Instagram at www.instagram.com/calcuttacliques)

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Published on: Sunday, December 26, 2021, 07:00 AM IST
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