Where am I? Who am I?
No lies. I once waited at a red traffic light while cars careened past from every side, teasing you by skimming millimetres from your door, oblivious to the horrifying danger of whizzing through traffic with three kids, yourself and the school and office bags somehow strapped onto one scooter.
When the light turned green, the traffic in front of us decided to halt.
The horns blow day in and day out... (What, may I ask, is the purpose of the 'Silence No Horn Zone' signs?) and while I am still petrified of crossing the street, most people here decide that the best time to cross the road is two seconds before you are about to mow them down.
The sidewalks, balloon-painted with paan spit, are more colourful than the black, crumbling buildings with paint chipping and windows breaking.
Look-At-Me-Kesh Ambani's gaudy house looms patronisingly over a poverty-stricken street.
A family of four lives in that horrific mansion, while twelve people share a square of cloth on the pavement beneath it.
But of course, Ambani is not from 'their' Bombay.
No, he belongs to the world of jet-setting, Dubai- skiing, New York and LA obsessed, Abercrombie-dressed children, Chanel- and- Vuitton- shopping Bombay.
And everything in between is filled up by the millions of plant waterers, onion choppers, toddler drivers, handbag cleaners and pillow fluffers; topped by the peons, the myriad young trainees flocking to Bombay for their 'chance' and the suit-clad managers and bankers that order the others around.
In all honesty, this is what I saw of Bombay when I first moved here two years ago.
I'm fond of two sayings:
1.Don't judge a book by its cover.
2.Practice what you preach...
Much as I hate to admit it, I follow neither of them.
This crazy city has grown on me like I never thought it would. I'm fond of the shops and the adorable cafes scattered across Kala Ghoda and Colaba. I love the greenery of Cuffe Parade and the regality of Gateway and the Taj. The Marine Drive sunset gives Kerala's a run for its money and the buildings are being lovingly patched up. Somehow, through the deadly streets anything and everything can make its way to your doorstep after a quick phone call (everything makes its way to your cell phone, too). The dabba-wallas are the inconspicuous heroes and the slums, too are beautiful.
I must be boring you, because I'm telling you things you already know. The point is, I'm still busy opening my eyes to this massive yet close-knit gaon.
Tomorrow is 26/11, and just like the past three years, the entire city will come out as a family to show their love and respect for their home.
But with one difference:
There'll be one more Mumbaikar.
By Mira Tiwari
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.