Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives.
But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.
– Gregory David Roberts (Shantaram)
I have begun thus, somewhere between growing up and growing weary, somewhere between June and July, to embrace Bombay…once again. When plane landed gently upon tarmac, one hot April afternoon, I was diffident. Or, perhaps I was venomous? I hated Bombay with all the might of a house, and life, and love tossed away. And, I would have nothing to do with it.
One month became two, then three, and between three and four: I thawed. As my hair caught in a Bombay sea-breeze on the swaying road between Bandra and Worli, flew, I let go. As I walked the narrow streets of Peddar Road in search of chocolate mousse, and found macaroons, I let go a little more. And, then there was the all-day swimming pool, and the crowded Marine Drive stretch, and grey and blue skies, and the half-blind pani-puri wallah, and the library with piles and piles of books, the masseuse with gentle hands, and the perfect big cup of chai latte, and my heart soared. Bombay has soul. And, Bombay has souls.
Drivers who stay up all night, and friends who turn up at odd hours when you do not know how long and how dark the night will turn out to be. People who share numbers, and stories with abandon. Friends who make you smile. Who show up, stay there, stand by. People who pause…even as the city moves on. Even as you move on.
Bambai, Bombay, not my friend, or a teacher, or an enemy, or my second love. Bombay, my friend, or a tough teacher, or an enemy, or my first love?
I do not know. Perhaps, it will take me all my life to find out. But, it is one of those.