PU Guide

When i first did the quintessential Bombay walk, Abhishek showed me how. He did not bother selecting or giving me a choice. The itinerary was in his mind. He knew exactly where to stop, where to stroll, where to take it brisk, what to point out and what to gloss over. He knew me and he knew where I'd feel most "at home". Little did he know though, that four years down from the four days he'd known me, this would indeed end up being मेरा इलाका. South Bombay had never captivated me so much as that late [in terms of time as well as date] November evening, considering मासा would often drive us down to Central or Worli seaface or even Marine Drive. Sure, he had shown us everywhere that the crowds flocked, but not where one found peace. Not where even amidst the mob, one could enjoy the scent of the charmer that is Bombay.

Four years down, the walk [almost] replicated itself with [almost] Abhishek. Precious seemed to have been instructed, yet there was an element of new. In that, I was shown the wooden staircase that made you feel 40 years older and truly regal. The film turned out to be shitty. They couldn't have helped it. The crowd, all there only for the experience, and the boy and I - we should've sat away at the parapet across the Taj instead of scurrying back for the film.

But there was more to see. The first time I met NiNa, I also saw a part of very-much-Bombay that occupied the darkest rumours in my head thus far. Some of them were so false I checked with NiNa twice if we really were in a koliwada. Not only because there were no kolis but also because there was an overflowing number of scorching-sizzling-wow Punjabis and Sikhs in the area. It was beauty crisis plunging deep into the negative. When a few Sundays later he suggested we breakfast at Madras Cafe, I couldn't believe my luck! There was a list of things that one must have stricken off before leaving the metropolitan, and NiNa was instrumental in knocking off a lot of them [though the list remains quite unfulfilled yet]. He showed me the wonders of Bandra - Bandstand, Carter Road, Pali Naka, Hill Road, Perry Road, the junction of Shopper's Stop where he n I had that yummy dinner at Sheesha... I figured it was time to pay back.

What began as just an idle wandering across Chowpatty - dinner at Crystal, गोला at the beach, a further drive down to the Point and hanging legs off the broad parapet over the brakers - became an obsession. It was a ritual we followed on crappy days - Mondays usually, or long days. Days when I hated my boss or he hated work or both [and sometimes neither]. We may still not have the perfect Queen's Necklace snap, but we ended up taking many silhouettes and even more lit NCPA buildings. The pendant was at least our's to begin with.

Arunav's trip gave me a chance to explore bit of my now informedness. I knew where to ask for Shack - right outside Jai Hind. And who - Anand Tiwari - a lesser known actor though a strong stage personality, who'd just stepped out'a an auto, still paying, and scratching his head at my question, in a khadi kurta pyjama. I don't think I'll ever reember the roads in Bandra. Whether it was while in an auto with Arunav, traipsing with Priyanka or biking to St. Andrew's with NiNa. Or even heading towards Madhavan uncle's house on Perry Road.

Sajani is a creature meant for South Bombay. Or perhaps its intricately fabricated grilles and meandering streets were created to satisfy her curiosity. To fill her camera with images of the Great Western Building or the traffic lights at Opera House and Mint Road behind Kala Ghoda, or the lovely blue synagogue or for that matter, all the sights that the 122 route could present to her unending quest for streetside sepia.

But it was that little talk on parenting with Subir at Samovar, and then another talk about everything with Fir and then yet another solo to honour the memory of Abhi T - sitting under the poster of Neruda with lines from his poems inscribed underneath. Always chai, always samosa, always always. There is no way one can by pass the art gallery on the right at the Jehangir Art Gallery. But in order to satisfy the hunger of the tummy, the aesthetic hunger must be satisfied first. Or perhaps it is the appetizer to the main course.

And then Anuj happened. Anuj? Arre Anuj! First he mentioned, then I was lugged, then he dragged and finally I tagged along. Our drive from Bombay Central station to Vashi was a long journey through nostalgia. That thing I detest most. A cigarette accompanied us both. He was sleepy, my eyes moist. "It's time you made new memories." Truly, the bike trip back was a memory alright!


Harshil said...

Where m i.....!??

priyancav said...

Harshil this was during my previous stay in Bombay, when we never met even though I stayed much longer than last time.
My fault - accepted. :)