The water splashed on the street dog as he stretched his body trying to wake up his body cells. It was 9 already and I was still in Dombivli. The auto rickshaw knew I was late. The dog barked from behind at us in the auto as if yelling abuses.
It didn’t rain that day. After two tough hours in the local I was at Santa Cruz. “Baandh, Bhaiya?” I called an auto rickshaw. He passed by. Another call, another ignorance. The 10th call and the same denial.
Twenty minutes standing outside at the station and there comes the 11th auto rickshaw. I hoped for another denial. He came himself. I was about to enter his vehicle when he saw a young lady ahead and pushed his auto towards her, leaving me shocked. He had an opinion – the women deserved to get the rickshaw first. My thoughts on gender equality had gone for a toss. I began my lonely voyage to office. A 1200 meter one.
There’s nothing good in Bombay for the middle class. This thought would cross my head every tenth second that day. I was only 10th day into my job life in the city. I was not loving it by any means. What happened on that day at Santa Cruz station became a usual story.
When it started to rain, the journey became messier and murkier. Till today, there’s no joy when I wake up in the morning to go to office. Who wakes up in the morning with joy, anyway? The case is different with me. The journey to office is sucking a lot from body, I thought. 65km up and down. The office boy comes from Sion. He says, “How do you do that?” “Do what?” “How do you make it from Dombivli on a daily basis till here?”
I don’t reply. I just brim a smile. All this time I never realize how I travel this far. That was the moment to raise the question?
I realised that Bombay is that terrible feeling when you want to break a relationship and are on a verge of actually doing it but the pain has prolonged so much that you are ultimately in love with it.
How is it possible? How come have you never been to the sea side yet? That is the best part of the city, the most beautiful one. I know I have not been there. “I would love to go there someday. But let me first fall in love with the part of the city which Bollywood rarely shows.” The girl in the auto rickshaw was impressed by the answer. She smiled and got off at a stop before the Dombivli station. It was business as usual for me. But it was raining that day. 70th day into my job-life in Bombay. I was shining like a sun on a rainy day. What made me happy? I don’t know. Things had not changed. I had to cover 130kms up and down even today. The job pressure was increasing at office as well. The crowd in the trains was getting thicker and smellier. I would never think, but, that Bombay is the worst city to live. I would not think anything, for that matter. Not even worried if someone hit me right into the nose as he entered the train at Kurla station. I would not exult when the train emptied at Thane. I would just breathe. Breathe long.
Nobody told me this. But somebody did tell me this? Who it was? That Bombay is not your goal. Bombay is a journey. Be in it. Do not expect the next station to arrive on time. Do not expect to catch an auto-rickshaw on time. Do not expect anything at all. Just be in the process.
It does not matter in which city you shift to tomorrow, you will always be stuck somewhere in Bombay.