Before I begin my piece I would like to say, this is no travelogue or city tour guide or food guide. This is all about how I feel about Mumbai as a person or I should rather say as a woman. Do I love Mumbai? Well…
I don’t know but of surely there are places in Mumbai that I love. Do I belong to Mumbai? May be or may be not… but it is true that Mumbai is kind of infused into my blood. Am I uprooted from Kolkata and transplanted in Mumbai? I think no… may be because I still have the urge to go back to my roots.
I never wanted to move out of Kolkata just for the sake of it. I loved my life there, I was enjoying it to the fullest mostly because unlike other women around me I was not just doing a job rather building my career. My life was very human… driven by people. So it might seem like… “What went wrong that suddenly you decided to come out of your comfort zone and throw yourself into an unknown path?”… Well, let’s put it this way that something right happened in my mind and I decided that I need a change of scene to grow as a more mature and confident person and overcome the vulnerability I possess within my comfort zone.
The Beginning – journey of a lone soldier
“To win, you must first learn how to lose!”
Choice of the new destination was easy, rather I should say Mumbai was the only option I considered… Reason? Simple… endless possibilities. April 2010… I started my journey towards an unknown destination… and here I’m, still figuring out the equation between Mumbai and me… The place I’m too close to and too far away from. As I embarked on my life’s first true adventure, every step reminded me that it takes courage, discipline and resilience to survive in a place like Mumbai. Workplace felt like a battlefield and it was impossible to determine who was an enemy and who was not… “TRUST NOBODY” and “DON’T BE YOURSELF” was the call of the hour. Being a corporate trusting nobody didn’t seem very difficult but not being myself felt impossible to achieve and eventually I failed. “Trying and failing is better than not trying at all” so it was a positive start!
Ideas, events and people – welcome to Mumbai
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
Mumbai is full of ideas, though most of them die at the ideating stage but a lot of them do make it big. In any meeting if you don’t come up with a new idea then you may be considered as dull, non-productive, non-proactive, etc. etc. Initially I failed to understand how could I even think about new ideas if the job in hand is not yet done to perfection but then this is Mumbai, you can’t complain about work pressure or irregular work schedules, you can’t complain if you are asked to achieve something practically infeasible, you can’t complain if your boss’s or colleague’s educational qualification surprises you, you can’t complain if your colleague is misogynous! To be successful here in Mumbai all you need to do is ideate, be proactive and forget about your work life balance.
This is one place where community matters the most yet you must succeed in a diverse environment. Just like Marwaris in Kolkata the strongest community here in Bombay are Gujratis. I remember a friend saying that in India if you are working in corporate sector most likely you are working under a Jain, so very true, nobody understands business better than Jains (Marwaris, Gujratis, Rajasthanis, Sindhis, Kutchis, etc., even Parsis are half Gujratis!) and Bombay is the live example of that very fact. They are driven by the passion to grow, to make it big, to unleash the power within and in order to achieve their dreams they will break every barrier and rule.
Work hard, party harder! That’s the philosophy of a typical Mumbai corporates. There are two kinds of events that take place here in Mumbai namely meetings and parties. Even if it’s not okay to eat non-vegetarian in a party since you belong a vegetarian community but it’s completely okay to consume alcohol, as it’s “pure-veg” and comes with that green sticker! Apart of these there are extravagant weddings where you are very cordially served pure vegetarian food (apart from Bengali and Punjabi weddings!) and yes of course there is NCPA Mumbai where you get to watch interesting live International and national Music, Dance and Drama shows and there are other open air shows where Bollywood celebrities perform live.
Conclusion… the awakening
“Mumbai’s infectious. Once you start living in Mumbai, working in Mumbai, I don’t think you can live anywhere else.”
Never thought I would be staying any more than two years in Mumbai but it’s been half a decade and I’m still celebrating life in here!
It’s not yet over friends… “Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost…” stay tuned for the next instalment of this article.