Apparantly I am now living in one of the world’s great cities and have been doing so since December 2014.
Hey Mumbai is the home of Bollywood, pani puri and pav (pronounced POW) bhaji which I heartily enjoy.
You could probably buy a new sari here everyday for the next 10 years and never come across the same colour or pattern – truly there seems to be a cloth store on every corner in every street.
There is fabulous art deco architecture and the marvels left behind by the British Empire juxtaposed with one of the the world’s largest slums, Dharavi that now nestles in prime land close to where I live.
Why then do I feel I have been swallowed up in some Twilight Zone episode?
It’s loneliness, I guess.
Too many days spent in the apartment and tired of trying to find a cab or an Uber driver who speaks English or can operate the GPS. Once on the road, traffic is merciless, constant and the honking, honking, honking never ceases.
On arrival I joined Mumbai Connections – an expat group for women -and guessed I would just flow in that, as I had in Gurgaon but too often their activities are too far from my place to attend. We chose to live close to Bill’s work which is nowhere near where the expats congregate. They tend to hang out in Bandra or Powai.
My refuge came in discovering pani puri shots at my local restaurant just a hop away from the apartment. This humble little shell of nuttiness filled with tidbits of comfort is popped in your mouth and chased with a shot of spiced water: indescribable flavours of coriander, sweet tamarind, chaat masala, chickpeas and whatever else all combine together to bring joy, oh sweet joy to the palate. I caught myself smiling and thinking, can this be legal? Perhaps it takes little around here to make me happy but I now understand why Mumbaikers crave these babies when overseas.(Six shots will set you back 35 rupees!)
Speaking of babies, we welcomed two this year and another two are due next year.
It’s hard being a Yiayia (grandmother) on Skype trying to catch kisses blown by the two-year old or listening in on Happy Birthday songs without getting to hug the child celebrating. Calls placed often drop out and the internet jumps from 4G to 3G to H++ to catch me if you can.
To distract myself I crocheted a menagerie of animals for them: penguins, monkeys,teddys,mice, cats,birdies,a lion, a crocodile, even a dinosaur.
Seems I looked up from my crochet long enough to discover I have been in this city for nearly two years!
I’m now ready to go back out and explore some more- I hear dahi puri is amazeballs too!
image of pani puri shots from rediff photos