Just a month after the demise of my Father it was impossible for us to stay at home during the Diwali Festival. With no pre-planning we decided to go to our favorite city, Mumbai. Getting a room facing the beautiful marine drive was a big relief and brought smiles on our faces. Peaceful sound of sea waves crashing on stoned wall, yellow lighted panorama of necklace road at night were the perks of last minute extra-paid sea facing room.
It was the third day of Diwali (27 October 2019) or the day of Padwa, we were out there to visit the Gateway of India and the iconic Taj Mahal Palace. A group of foreign tourists passed by with a guide showing the clearly visible renewed wing of the luxurious hotel.
“You see newly painted wing and windows? Yeah! That’s where the two terrorists set fire using RDX. Those 3 days this hotel saw the worst side of Human being but still immediately after a month it was completely ready to serve great humans like you.” Telling this he took them inside the hotel.
Laughing at his over statement we walked towards the most vulnerable place in Mumbai, the Bombay Stock Exchange. Strolling past the old buildings of the fort area we reached BSE within 10 minutes, but within those 10mins thousands of people had lost Crores of Rupees and probably few hundreds of them might have got a heart attack due to that. Despite knowing all this there were many people around the building probably trying to get some insights, a few TV reporters standing beside the bull adding to the continuous chaos of people around BSE.
The day was well spent looking at the old yet rich building’s around Fort area and later checking out some expensive clothing shops. But evenings for us were the hardest; dull atmosphere, unable to call friends considering they would be celebrating at home. Though no one spoke, but there was a definite tension for the first evening in Mumbai.
The answer to sadness is good food we thought, and went to Girgaum Chowpatty. Extremely bright yellow lights, chaotic shouting of owners to get customers, spicy aromas, a very light cool breeze in between the continuous pushing of people was the scenario at Chowpatty. We sat on the beach having the famous spicy cheese pavbhaji and jumbo-sized minty Bombay sandwich along with a cool rose Falooda. The sea was very calm, no-one could imagine once this part of Mumbai faced 10mtr high waves destroying everything which came across.
After our dinner, not taking any more risk for the sea to be aggressive, we sat in the taxi leaving towards our hotel. Like every taxi driver of Mumbai even this one was very talkative and scary. He told us, “Bhaiyaji ye taxi muze na insurance me mili vrna apni kidar itni aukat khudse gadi leneki. Mere bade bhai ke taxi me bomb futa. Bhai to nai raha lekin nayi taxi chhodke gaya mere liye.” (Trans: I got this Taxi in insurance otherwise I could never afford this taxi. A bomb exploded in my brother’s taxi he died on the spot but left me this taxi.) Our first instincts were to check for any bag under the seat. The driver was extremely positive despite his loss and had promised himself that he would drive this Taxi to feed his brother’s family.
Looking at the necklace road with burning yellow lights made me think, how quickly Taj Mahal Palace recovered itself from heavy fire and now poses itself to be a heavily paid Dark tourism spot. Mumbai, the city of dreams is actually a phoenix’s city, I thought.
It’s not only the city but also its residents who have the phoenix blood flowing through them. Every time the city faces the heat of some calamity residents help their dream city to regrow itself even bigger and grander, welcoming more people like us to get inspired and start a normal life with the phoenix blood.
“Often its the deepest burn which empowers you to grow into highest self.”Karen Salmansohn (Edited).
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