Contagious, it is! I was thinking of a word that describes this city, and that came to me. The spirit, lifestyle, and dreams of a Mumbaikar easily spreads and affects even those who would visit for the first time.
I must admit that after immediately saying ‘YES’ to this business trip that my organization presented me, some second thoughts came up when things started to sink-in. I figured out that this may not be as comfortable as the previous trips I had, and I am about to enter a totally unfamiliar world for quite a long time. But something still excites me – that is the opportunity to bring home another fresh perspective from a place which is not typically found fascinating.
Where Flavor Lingers
No one can’t just write something about Mumbai without mentioning the food – so I’ll start with it. All the dishes that I’ve tried has this tangy and spicy flavor. If the food has a bland taste, you must have forgotten to dip it in a chutney, or maybe missed a gravy that goes with it. They use fresh masalas that are ground together to create rich sauces that they mix with the dishes.
From the starters like their kebabs, to the main course, the menus have a wide variety of options both for Veg and Non-veg foodies. The street food like the Vada Pav, Pani Puri, Dosa, and Pav Bhaji are surely must tries along with the Indian Chai. Snacks like Kachori, Dhokala, and Samosa are best with a cup of coffee.
For a dessert guy like me, Gulab Jamun, Rasgulla, Rasmalai, Besan Ladoo, Jalebi (not Jollibee), and Sev Barfi are the best. I am thankful to my guys who spoiled me with these goodies during my stay there.
Where Things that Glitter are Not Only in the Sky
Yes, things that glitter are not only in the sky but also in Mumbai! I learned from here that fancy doesn’t need to be expensive. As I walk along the streets, it’s impossible for you to miss the ladies wearing sparkling and colorful sarees, with accessories of gold completing the ensemble. Along Colaba Causeway, you will find elegant accessories at a very cheap price, but once a lady wears them, you will see a glimpse of glamour that shoots from the deep roots of their tradition and identity.
Where ‘Love Your Own’ is Not Just a Phrase
Spark a conversation about cricket, mangoes, food, and Bollywood – you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’m amazed on how passionate the locals are in talking about things that make them proud. Aside from these three, your eyes will surely be seized by the colorful traditional dresses that that they, especially the ladies, wear in the workplace, along the streets, and even in the malls. Here, you wouldn’t mind the famous brands because the local ones are worn by almost everyone.
Where Music Leads to Laughter
I got the chance to join a team building activity and I admire the team for keeping me awake throughout the long travel. Someone started a song then everyone is clapping in the rhythm until I found myself head banging for a song that I do not understand. Everyone is just so alive that they don’t have to translate the songs for me to enjoy them. They asked me to sing a Filipino folksong (I chose Bahay Kubo) and they all joined me in the beat, turning it to be my favorite rendition of the song.
Where Dreams are Not Just Dreams
While chatting with a friend, I learned how people pursue to do any type of work as a stepping stone to what they want to achieve in the future. They just won’t stop. They are very passionate in sharing stories of men and women of Mumbai, from Bollywood stars to politicians to entrepreneurs, who dared to make their dreams come true and how they see their stories as inspiration as they work on their own.
It’s a busy city just like Manila. The streets are crowded, and you will see a lot of people carrying goods, people who seem in hurry, and making phone calls while walking. They are very positive that even the small things that they do are parts of the preparations for what is ahead of them. They are firm believers that if someone made it on the top, they definitely can.
Where Tradition is Everything
Most, if not everything, is done with a story from the past or influenced by their religion. Some folks skip meals on some days or would eat only a specific food on some. Their views and practices from big things such as marriage and up to simple daily activities such as hitting the roads has an explanation. What captured my attention is the way they practice these without expecting you to do the same. They also have diverse belief systems identified by the different regions but what I find cool is how open they are in discussing these differences and how mutual respect for each is valued by every person.
Where Resilience is Everywhere
The uncomfortable conditions that my friends told me about are true – heavy traffic, dirty streets, heavy crowd on public transport, and the noise – but once you are there, your focus will be diverted on how the people thrive despite of these. You will see how people endure heavy rains and catch-up immediately right after. As I read through their history, the people’s response to tragedies from natural calamities, terrorist attacks, and local crimes prove how flexible they are.
Putting these altogether…
This trip is indeed one of the most memorable. It’s special because I felt a sense of belonging despite of the differences that I am able to observe. There is so much more to tell, and I guess, these unspoken words will be revealed in the way I would deal with things in life in the future because of the value that the people I met added to me. I look forward to be back soon, ‘till next time.