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The International Writers Magazine:
On the Move

Memoir de Mumbai
Lalita kakanadan

One more day passed by. It has been three months since I began living in this neat and tidy room, all by myself, like "Alice in wonderland". I landed here in Dubai on the 1st of April at around 6.30 am. The marhaba staff looked cute in her yellow and blue dress code though she had accumulated a few extra pounds on her waist line.

Dubai Airport is very huge and is massively decorated as if to show off the power of wealth. I had to walk a long distance from the airway bridge than I had done in the Charles De Gaulle airport.

The ‘buggy car" facility is very useful as it takes us from one side of the terminal to the other side without much hassle.
When EK 501 aircraft took off from Mumbai International airport, slicing the clouds with the edges of its wings, my mind was riding back to old memories which flashed on my eyes just as on a cinema screen.

Seven years back, on a freezing January night, I got down at Vasai station along with Lalchechi from a dragging Gandhi Dham Express. It was around 11 pm. I still remember the first Virar train pass by us carrying hundreds of people. Commuters were hanging on the doors and windows and there were even a few on top of the train!

It was not my first visit to Mumbai. I had been there before with my parents during my school days. But those memories are pale now. I can recollect only Nanappan maman’s house and C.P‘s samosas!

Vasai is a small fishing town. Well, it can no longer be called "small" while looking at the crowds getting down the train. People in their thousands struggling to make ends meet! They must have been working day after day commuting nearly 45 km up and down for survival.

We took a rickshaw to Naigaon where Lalchechi was living at that time. Rickshawala took us through ‘Manickpur’ and ‘Papdi’ village where you could see nothing but barren land and here and there lush vegetation. The moon was shining in full form to serve us like a ‘stadium light’. It was pretty chilly outside and the cold breeze pierced through my naked skin hurting my blood vessels. I clung on to Lalchechi and Valyamonchettan and continued staring outside.
Sometimes, we passed thru old villas, occupied by East Indians – a community whom you could see mainly at Vasai side - and most of them had a "cross" on their courtyard.

After the nice ride of 30 minutes, we finally reached Naigaon, initially occupied by Koilies and now by Goans. Mr. Pereira was the one and only person at that time to try his luck at this side in building construction and so the building in this area formed the "Pereira colony". Ours was a small flat with one bedroom, hall, kitchen and a washroom. Valyamonchettan had made ‘kaachiyamoru’ for the first time in his life to welcome us. We had already taken our dinner from the train, but the rice, kaachiyamoru and okra fry were too tempting to resist!

It took me a while to accustom myself to the new culture and atmosphere. Then days, weeks and months passed. Winter spring and autumn… I slowly became a part of the busy Mumbai life.

From Naigaon to Borivali and later to Santacruz and on the other side, from a small travel agency to one of the biggest in the city and there to an airline’s back office and finally to an airline itself… Life was full of changes.
There I made the best friends ever. With them I enjoyed life to the fullest. Pubs and parties, picnics and late nights…We promised and believed that we would be friends for ever, but later broke the same knot and parted with the same spirit, praying and wishing that we would never bump in to one another in future. Life again was full of twists!
Mumbai is a place where you can heal your wound even before you realize that you got hurt.
Everyday is a new day and every person you meet would be a new person.

Life in Mumbai is just like a fast 12 coach Virar train! You just don’t realize how time flies as you have so much to observe, learn and laugh at and sometimes to make you feel stupid. How silly of a person to fight with others they have never before seen and may never ever see in future.However, I have sometimes wished to move out of this ‘vicious circle’ of Mumbai especially whenever I see the unbearable crowd, the dirty and unhygienic side of human beings, the corrupt political system and above all, the huge income tax imposed on people who work! At some point, I have even felt I should tell my house owner, milkwala and paperwala to collect the salary on my behalf as after sharing my valet with them, I hardly have anything left for me!

So, now, here I am, in Dubai – in the ‘Manhattan of the Middle East’ – hoping to mould a new life with new people, new system and fresh ideas.

My mind is full of enthusiasm, zest and energy. This world is vast and I have much more to explore. Maybe, a few years down the line, I would write another note like this about Dubai from some other corner of this beautiful green globe.

© lalita kakanadan June 18th 2007

Bubble of my Heart
Lalita Kakanadan
My Thursdays are colourful…
Coz I see you on all Thursdays…
Coz I see you only on Thursdays

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