Your Reasons To Love

Bloggers, readers, chefs, editors, designers and more share their reasons for loving this city.

January 2, 2012 8:19 am by

“No matter what I wear or what I don’t, no one raises an eyebrow!”—@payoshnis

“No load shedding or power cuts.”—@bombaylives

“No other city in the world, in any kind of weather, has damp streets that reflect the light quite like Mumbai. And this, more than anything else I suppose, is what I miss and love most about Mumbai. I like the food and the smells and people and the frenzy and the ‘fuck you, get out of my way boss’ attitude. But I terribly miss that feeling, because it is a feeling, when you drive back into town from the airport at night, after it has rained all day. That slick layer of water and oil and Mumbai’s fluid detritus reflects everything: streetlights, headlights, neon lights, traffic signals.

As my taxi swoops up and down on the Western Express Highway, I just sit and watch the light. Sometimes, when there isn’t too much traffic, I experience this on Marine Drive as well. But this is very rare. Because there is this gentle equilibrium between wet and clear and night and traffic and dysfunctional drainage that is needed for the perfect Mumbai glow. Marine Drive rarely achieves this balance. Sometimes if you sit on top in the double-decker from Hutatma Chowk to Worli—the 66?—you get superb reflections all the way from depot to depot.

This reflected light is everything Mumbai means to me. It means people, enterprise, hard work, filth, folly, hope, resignation and home. Even when I am flying in for a one-day business meeting, this hazy glow calms me, soaks up my worries and assures me that I am now safe and secure. They should sell DVDs of this. Of hours and hours of Mumbai’s murky monsoon luminescence.”—Sidin Vadukut, author of Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin “Einstein” Varghese

“Coz even your local bhel wala will know you had gone for a vacation.”—@roohikhatri

“I came to Mumbai with just two suitcases and my dreams. After growing up in New Delhi, I just wanted anonymity. The freedom to be who I wanted to be. If I changed my mind every single day, so be it. Bombay—not Mumbai—gave me the greatest gift of my life. The confidence to know that I might not be the nicest person in the world but this is who I am. Which is why, the city is my greatest love affair—one I cannot cheat on. Even though I try.”—Nonita Kalra, editor of Elle

“Mumbai is Manhattan, LA, Paris, London, Surat, Bihar, Pune and Punjab all on one tiny island!”—@gyaanexchange

“Why do I love Mumbai? Because every day brings with it insanity anew. And it’s defined by love-hate relationships that sound like the lyrics of a Bon Jovi (who, by the way, will probably do a show here fifteen years from now) song. For me, this city’s all about the love-hate relationships. We love our cops (‘They were so good during the attacks dude!’) we hate our cops (‘Breathalyser-rigging b*****ds’). We love our transporters (‘The other day, it was raining and flooded and this cabbie sweetly dropped me home’), we hate our transporters (‘I WILL SHOOT THE NEXT CABBIE WHO SAYS NO BECAUSE IT’S A SHORT DISTANCE IN THE FACE!!’). Why don’t we take just one, principled stand? Because we’re too damned busy to, that’s why. With apologies to Arjun Rampal, I love to love-hate this city. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a cab to find.”—Rohan Joshi, comedian

“When I was a kid, my mother made the mistake of taking me to Juhu beach on a Sunday. Now, if you’ve ever been to Juhu beach on a Sunday, you’ll know that the place is filled with the entire population of Uganda. And if you’ve ever been to Uganda, you’ll know that one out of every three people in Uganda likes to wander aimlessly/carry a balloon/eat gola/defecate peacefully in a corner. (I kid. Nobody in Uganda likes balloons.)

Surely enough, I was separated from my mum within no time. I wandered around for a good hour not knowing how to get home. Finally, a helpful rickshaw driver (one out of the five that we have left) asked me where my house was. I had no clue where I lived. ‘Aap kaha rehte ho?’ he asked. ‘Ghar mein’ I said.

‘Haan, lekin kaha?’

‘Mere building mein.’

This went on for a few hours.

Finally, I remembered something.

‘Sir, Amitabh bachchan ka bunglow.’

The rickshaw fellow grinned and took me there. Since I was a kid, the only sense of my address was me overhearing my mother give other people directions to our house. My mother, a quintessential Mumbaiite, never ever gave directions by streets name or area code. Nope, the average Mumbaiite must drop at least five landmarks while directing anyone. Even if the address is just a lane away.

‘Go straight from Amitabh’s bungalow, you’ll come to Zaf. From Zaf, take a left. You’ll see that Hanuman temple. Behind that is my building’.

‘Yes, but what’s the road called?’


So yes, next time you’re in Mumbai, come straight from Bachchan’s bungalow, head left from Juhu circle, and take a right at Shankari. Ask the paan wala there for Seema Society.”—Tanmay Bhat, comedian and writer

“I moved to Mumbai over a decade ago completely captivated by two things. The neon lights (indicative of a city that never sleeps) and black and yellow taxis that (unlike Delhi) are safe to jump into at all odd hours of the night (not to mention easy to come by!). But if you were to ask me now for the reason I love Mumbai most, it would be this; Mumbai made all my dreams come true. I went from being a diplobrat nobody to Radio DJ, Party Animal and one-woman Blogging Enterprise and had a blast the whole time. To top it all, I made the most amazing friends AND met Prince Charming (at China House) and now we both love the kitschy chaos of our new home. It’s difficult to put into words what Mumbai means to me but truly it is the city of dreams.”—Miss Malini, celebrity blogger

“I love Mumbai because I can take a rickshaw at 2am in the morning, smoke a cigarette and get home safe and sound. And by the way, I am a girl.”—Deepti Dadlani

“The culture of relaxed success. We work hard, we play harder. But we do it with a sense of ease and authenticity that only evolves as you’re comfortable in your skin without an insecure need to claim your identity. Not everyone is there as individuals, but we seem to have it collectively as a culture.”—Beenu Bawa

“I love Mumbai because it’s a can-do, fabulously frantic city where anything is possible provided you have the fortitude to stick it out! I love it because it’s the only city in the country where people appreciate the value of time. I love the city because it’s the perfect representational microcosm of the mad macrocosm that we live in, that is India.” —Rahul Akerkar, chef and owner, Indigo

“I love the extremities of Bombay. To me, it’s the most extreme city in the world. It’s where you have a marriage hall located next to a crematorium; super deluxe five-star hotel buildings rising amongst slum clusters; a Lamborghini sharing the same road as bullock carts; and street food vendors right outside fine-dine establishments. There is an organised chaos and a mad energy to Bombay. I also particularly like how the old exists with the new—Victorian architecture, Art Deco buildings, 200-year old villages tucked away in Bandra—what’s not to love.” —Riyaaz Amlani, owner of Salt Water Cafe, Smoke House Deli and the Mocha chain of coffee shops

“Mumbai is like an old pair of jeans, worn and faded, yet irreplaceably comforting. Its rough exterior gives way to something rich and pure, complex and unabashed, but only to those who care to look. Certainly, Mumbai is not for the faint-hearted, it requires a strong stomach, a little chutzpah! I’m not ashamed to say I love this city. I love Matunga market, a fine source for unique, south Indian produce. I love going to Sassoon Docks, and the subsequent urge to burn my clothing. I love chaiwallahs and the guys who sell those unnecessarily large balloons. I love driving in between lanes, and running red lights without consequence. Most of all, I love that there’s a city that doesn’t really care what the rest of the world thinks. It just does its thing, take it or leave it. I take it.” —Alex Sanchez, chef, The Table

“Bombay is the home of the effortlessly cool. Living and working in Bombay means stenciling your own personality on its walls, no pretensions, no protocol. It’s chaotic and manic in a way that makes being unproductive impossible.” Ayaz Basrai, founder, The Busride design studio

“The meritocracy. The mania. The home-delivered alcohol. The hours. The fact that we call it Bombay, come what may. The delusion. The complete lack of perspective. The palpable fanaticism about film. The seaface. The honest auto-rickshawwallahs. The dives. The impossibility. The DVD bootleggers. The fanboys. The fact that nobody really cares unless you beseech them to. The self-love. The brick-red powder that accompanies vada pao. The fact that the city moves as if cut to a soundtrack. WTF, Versova. The freaks. The frankies. The dreamers. The old and gorgeous South Bombay buildings. The new friends. The fact that the city sinks fangs into you and tries to make you its own. The sleeplessness. But, if I were to pick one: the Bombay girl. Epic.”Raja Sen, film critic

“First up, it’s home and every little bit is home. The city has changed, literally from Bombay to Mumbai and in persona as well. I grew up in Dadar-King’s Circle in an area surrounded by parks. There were 12-15 parks around. I didn’t know other parts of Bombay didn’t have that. There used to a woman who would come to Five Gardens every Sunday morning with a basket full of pups to sell. You don’t see that anymore. Five Gardens is more polluted than crowded. [But] everything I am today, all the aspects of my nature, from independent music to independent film, are things that this city has tutored me to do. It has always been a place unlike any other in India. From church community theatre near my house to Aurora theatre that screens everything from Mission Impossible 4 to obscure Tamil films, [the city] is a crazy embroidery of Hollywood, Bollywood, kitsch and third-world abominations. It gives the word eclectic a shot of adrenaline.”Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy, musician and filmmaker

“Mumbai has a lot to yet offer but there are a few a compelling reasons that make it my favorite city in the country. I love its instinctive irony, the quality of its unique juxtaposition of old and new, its ‘Bring it on!’ attitude and its laid-back calm, and its ability to combine a sense of professionalism with an intense passion for play! I love the old city, especially the areas of Colaba and Kala Ghoda, and the new but inspiring underground music scene. I love the fact that musicians can make a living here and I love the fact we could set up Blue Frog here and I love Mumbai for making it a success. And looking forward, I love the possibility of what Mumbai can, should and will be!”—Ashu Phatak, musician and co-founder, Blue Frog

“In Mumbai, I see old and new worlds at the same time; I see and visit five-stars and dhabas at the same time. It’s such a variety of culture for me that I don’t think I can find anywhere else in the world. When I first came here [from Kenya], my taste in music was one-dimensional. And that’s another perspective from which the variety of the city has shaped me. I now know a thing or two about some electronic, rock and disco sounds that I was totally uninterested in before I came here. But most important of all, I’m simply infatuated with its coast lines, palm trees and breeze. And in Mumbai, in under an hour, I can travel to a place that has elaborate, historical fort ruins, the kind of stuff tourists spend thousands to come and see. All that is within reach for only the cost of my transport. Then last but not least is the attitude of the urban population. An aspiration to measure up to the rest of the world with no complex issues, that I feel is this city’s strongest asset.”Bob Omulo, vocalist, Bombay Bassment

“The glorious sunrise behind the hills across the harbour, viewed from Apollo Bunder; breath-taking winter sunsets at the horizon’s edge from Marine Drive; the tranquillity of Banganga Tank with ducks quacking merrily; the vivid blossoms of the jarul, gulmohar, pink cassia and laburnum and the first sound of the koel that herald the coming of the monsoon; the fury of the rains at Haji Ali; the amazing smells, sounds and sights at Crawford Market; the quaint Portuguese style bungalow villas of Khotachiwadi and Matharpakady; the grandeur of the neo-Gothic buildings such as Victoria Terminus, the High Court and University; the striking Art Deco architecture of cinemas like Liberty, Eros, Regal and Metro; the promise of a better tomorrow in the many slums; the physical city symbols—the Shiva Trimurti at Elephanta, the Gateway and the Taj; the incredible crucible of cultures and cuisines that is Mumbai-Bambai-Bombay.” —Sharada Dwivedi, historian and author

Gyan Prakash Gets Some Train Therapy
Because We Have Our Own NBA
Because South Mumbai Has Life In It Yet
Because We Have A Full-Blown Forest In Our Midst
Because the Safest Place In the City Is A Thieves’ Market
Because Our Matchmakers Don’t Discriminate
Because You Can Eat Like A King On A Pauper’s Salary
Because the Meter Goes Down
Because We Can Date Back At Least One Thing To 65 Million Years Ago
Because of This
Because We Have Our Own Classical Music Gharana
Because Our Trains Double Up As Shopping Malls
Because We Invented the Sizzler
Because Our Metal Is Badass
Because Age Is Just A Number Here
Because Writers Find Poetry Even In the City’s Ugliness