Colaba-d (Day 1 in Mumbai)

Selected to present at a conference in Mumbai!

I mean could things get any better?!

If you like traveling, then this was golden! Atleast, it was for me!

This trip had ‘First ever solo trip’ written all over it!

I booked my flights well in advance. Ibibo had some crazy deals going on. I booked my bunk at Zostel, Mumbai for 1.3k for three nights. And, I was set.

Midnight flights are fairly cheaper than the morning ones, so if you have anyone to pick you up, book these. If you’re willing to doze off at the airport, book these again.

I landed in Mumbai at 4am on a cold Thursday morning. I slept for a bit till I got uncomfortable and then decided to head to Zostel. (I wanted an early start to the day, you see)

Zostel generally let’s you stash your luggage, use the washroom and be on your way. 5:30 am I was on a tuktuk to Andheri, and the city was already awake. I was checked in at 5:50am (They were just so sweet!) And after a little freshening up, I was on my way.

I was adviced to take the Metro to the local and head to Colaba from there. Not being too sure about going on a local, I took a bus.

Do. Not. I mean, just do not, even in your wildest of dreams take the bus from Andheri to Colaba. It took me three hours to get there. (I won’t complain here because I met the sweetest old lady who became my tour guide and told me how to brave my way around the city)

If you’re in Andheri, or elsewhere take a can or a local. The autos don’t operate here. The region from Sion onwards, doesn’t allow tuk-tuks. My roommate at Zostel belived that it was because Mumbai was reclaimed land. It wouldn’t be able to best the brunt of additional vehicles.

Reports online claim that the reason could be political. A dude on Quora said that roads in South Mumbai are narrow and curvy and tuk-tuks wouldn’t be able to navigate (Have you ever been in a rickshaw? They’d balance on two wheels if they had to)

One article sounded more down to Earth, it said that the traffic was already bad with vehicles taking far too long to move an inch. Adding rickshaws would only make things worse and harder.

That apart, once I was at Colaba. I was awed. I was flattered. The place and the architecture was everything that I imagined and more.

I roamed around under the canopy of trees in the narrow bylanes of Colaba till I got on the main steet. From far away, the place was an absolute sight to watch. Taj Mahal Palace on the left and the Gateway on the right flanked by the noiseless sea.

The place was crowded. Tourists flooded The Gateway. Photographers flocked the place and the uncles who print your photo in a jiffy waited for a customer to click.

This place just did not disappoint.

After spending a while here, I shopped. I shopped to my heart’s content. Remember to carry cash here. Some of them accept Paytm or Google pay, but most of them prefer cash.

While here you can always eat at Leopard Cafe, which is a name iconic in itself.

I got quite a few trinkets here. An antique compass, a magnet, a few dress, and what not.

I realised after my shopping spree that I was running out of time. The sweet old lady I’d met earlier, had warned me to take the local back but to do the same before the rush hour began.

I still wanted to visit a few churches and the Afghan Church was quite a distance away. I went instead, to the Cathedral of Holy Name. The place was all peace and quite and much needed tranquility in the city that never stopped or slept.

I then walked around a bit looking at all the colonial era things that the city had to offer before I got to the local that took me back to my stay for the weekend.



I’m not really sure what it is about corridors that fascinates me. I think it’s not knowing what’s on the other end. Or sometimes it’s the path in itself. Nevertheless, each one has a story to tell in itself. Maybe it saw the royals stroll rainy evenings, or it gave joggers some respite; maybe it stayed too still while tourists clicked away on their cameras. Or maybe it did nothing. Maybes, and more maybes.


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Inside Hyderbad’s Nooks and Corners

It was a regular day in Hyderabad. The city and its traffic didn’t make me miss Bangalore for a minute. The only thing that did stand apart from Bangalore was it’s ancient structures.

The city was full of surprises. There would be a series of newer shopping complexes, international brand stores, and then suddenly, an old ruin would emerge. Every other old structure would have a dome, or a few. Enough to make an tourist believe it was a place.

‘Madam, vegetable market, madam. Very fresh carrot, beans, sab milta’ the autowala informed from his cheetah printed shiny seat.

Chowmahal too, was a surprise. A random majestic metallic gate between a bustling street, and an even busier market. As the name suggests, it is home to four mahals/palaces. Each one more exquisite and regal looking than the others.

Uniformly painted in shades of white, beige and pale yellow. The windows were the deepest shades of brown. The lake, though green, perfectly reflected the structures adjacent to it. The garden, was home to a few canons, reflecting all the war and destruction the rulers boasted of.

The palace was now home to all of the Nizam’s possessions. His china, his woodwork, letters he wrote, stationary he used, swords that belonged to his armies, guns he took on his hunts, vintage cars that he collected, satin sofas he once sat on sipping his scotch, jewel studded pots he once smoked on; everything preserved like it was bought yesterday.

The chandeliers were a work of art in themselves, each one sparkling rays of the sun that came in through the window. And the windows? Don’t get me started on how precisely sculpted every last curve on the patterns were.

I doubt anything I pen here could even come close to how elegant the monument was.

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Reading Marquez

“When I first read 100 Years of Solitude”, V had begun, “I couldn’t go past the first few pages. Every time I read it, I had to begin again. And every time it ended, it ended at the same page. Until after a few years when I could finally go past these pages and then be amazed with the magic Marquez created”, she had said.

In the following class I attended, I went up to V and told I had no assignments to work on that day. She told me I could use the hour to read 100 Years of Solitude. She picked a book from her rack that looked like a planner and not the novel that I thought I would read, and it wasn’t; it was black and looked like it had no writing on it. Only after I picked it up did I realize that “Gabriel Garcia Marquez” and “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” was engraved on the spine of the book in little gold letters, that made the book look like a record from a bygone era.

The first and last page of the novel was a very pleasing shade of red; Google said this colour was ‘cherry red’. The pages felt crisp between my fingers but were still faded- the jet black cover and the cherry red leaf made the little book look like a relic.

“The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.”

I read the line twice or maybe thrice, to register what I had read. But I continued reading, and didn’t put the book down till I finished. I was blank at the end of it; when asked if I liked it or not, I nodded and smiled or started back and told the person what they wanted to hear so they’d leave me alone. Still, I change my mind about the peculiar love story of the old man and the virgin every ten minutes. At times I’m disgusted with the arrangement that the two have, at times I’m moved, at times I’m happy, and at times I feel all the emotions at once.

The original was called Memoria de Mes Putas Tristes. Somehow ‘putas’ didn’t seem like a word that would be used to describe a whore or even a grown woman (because ‘putta’ in Kanada stands for something you would call a child). I liked it better as the English translation. Alberto Manguel, in his review for The Guardian writes that Edith Grossman (the translator) has done more for the books than Marquez has- she adds more meaning to the words than Marquez intended to but nevertheless the only character who comes alive in the story is the old journalist.  “Even García Márquez’s writing, so colourful and inventive in the celebrated masterpieces for which he deservedly received the Nobel prize in 1982 – A Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera – is in these pages flat and conventional”, he says, similar to many others who believed that this wasn’t one of the best works of Marquez.

But this wasn’t the first novel that I’d read, I had read The Chronicles of a Death Foretold just a few days earlier. Much like the other book, I was fascinated and yet annoyed by the story.

It’s always the first sentence in his books that manages to take the reader by surprise. In this case it was, “On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on.”

At this point, if you’ve watched many saas-bahu Hindi soaps with your mom and grandma and aunt, you would begin to guess why someone wanted to kill him- an affair, a robbery, someone’s boyfriend, a drunken brawl, a property dispute, or something on those lines.

Marquez builds up half the novel to this moment where he reveals why Nasar died, but when he does reveal it- it’s rather flat. You can hear yourself go “Ayoooo! Why did this take a ‘Tulsi killed her son’ turn?” Just when Marquez senses this disappointment he gives you something else to keep guessing about; he plants a little seed in you that says that maybe they killed Nasar without a valid reason, and this little seed is what keeps you awake at night. It feeds on your amusement and frustration and grows into an immortal plant.

“Chronicle is speech after long silence. For a time Garcia Marquez abjured fiction: whatever the reasons for his return to the form, we can only be grateful that he is back, his genius unaffected by the lay-off” said Salman Rusdie in his review for London Review of Books. And boy, am I grateful- it helped me make my way through a rather monotonous film.

When I began to read short stories by Marquez it seemed to me that all his stories were all linked to one another. In the story Eva Is Inside Her Cat though Marquez doesn’t describe the house in this twelve-page story you begin to picture the story unfold inside the rotting colonial house that the journalist in Memories of my Melancholy Whores lives in. The Woman who Came at Six O’ Clock is story about what a little conversation the owner of the restaurant has with a woman who visits the restaurant at the same time every day, again he doesn’t describe the restaurant but you feel that it was the same one that was described time and again in The Chronicles of a Death Foretold.

Marquez manages to create a maze, if you start reading you get lost in this maze and you can’t leave the maze till you’ve managed to run into every nook and corner of the maze so much that the maze becomes familiar to you. The only way to leave this maze is to finish the book, but by the time you leave you begin to long for this maze that you were familiar with so you go back to it, but this time the familiar becomes unfamiliar, and it starts all over again.

But we were supposed to be perplexed by Marquez, we were supposed to be introduced to a new world, a magical world, but I was rather disappointed. V spoke of a Marquez whose grandmother gave the world a plumber who left a trail of yellow butterflies everywhere he went (or something like that- but right now, this plumber seems much like Winnie the Pooh carrying a jar of honey down the garden), the Marquez that I read introduced me a world far away from where I lived and still similar to that I lived in. And maybe I had found that Marquez but hadn’t realised it.

When I went to Blossom’s over the weekend, I picked up his novel Love in the Time of Cholera. The book sits on the top of my rack waiting to be read while The Short stories by Marquez is in second compartment of the grey backpack, along with a few half written assignments waiting to be written and submitted.