By Bhavya Malhotra
It’s that time of the year again when all the high school kids follow the trend of applying for graduation in cities other than their own.
There has been this fashion of moving out of the city and staying away from family after school since quite a long time now. I was as easily influenced by this western tradition as many of you.
I moved to Mumbai to realise the a small ambition of mine two years back. And now that I am 80% through my graduation, I realise, I will miss it when I am gone from here.
Being an out station kid in here is one hell of a task.
Right from the chaos of applying for every college individually (because, no centralised admissions) to getting admissions, to making a life here, it is all a ride!
But the beauty of Mumbai is that, this city of dreams, it grows on you, it makes you the person you never knew you could be and brings out all your hidden potentials- from talking to the native people without knowing their language, to travelling in the local trains that have more population than China, to sitting and contemplating life at the sea shore like you’re in a movie, to celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi and every other festival with the enthusiasm same as Virat Kohli has when he chases the target runs for the team.
“I have learnt the art of holding my breath and being patient when a crowd equal to the population of a city swarms in at Dadar. I derive my energy and inspiration from Mumbai.”
-Shreeradhe Khanduja, BA, Jai Hind College
This city sometimes makes you feel like a part of their own, but initially, it makes you feel like an alien too. And I have a legit explanation to this.
PK HO KA?
On my first day of college, all the teachers in their respective hours took an introductory session of all the students. I am not exaggerating when I say, that every time I got up and spoke about myself and how I shifted to this city for merely graduation, I got the looks of ‘why-would-you- do-this?’ and ‘Is this even a thing?’ from both, the teachers and the students.
As an outstation kid in Mumbai, for the first few weeks I felt like Aamir Khan from PK, who had come to a different planet by mistake and had no hopes of going back. There were people around me, all of them speaking a language I barely understand- Marathi.
“I was in Bangalore for my graduation, but I am originally from West Bengal. I shifted here for my post graduation. I expected this to be a normal thing, but honestly, I have never received such looks and question-marked faces, when I told my fellow mates about my journey from West Bengal to Maharashtra now. I was judged more than Indian Idol contestants for travelling all the way from East to South to West for studies.”
-Sarwat Fazela, MSC, D.S. Actuarial Education Services.
EAST, WEST, NORTH YA SOUTH, MADAM?
After college, when I had to return to my PG, the struggle then too was real. I was lost again.
The reason to this was every area had a east and west.
Coming from a small town, we never had this concept of east and west. We always had a simple and sweet name of our area, and our public transport would drop us to our place if we just told them the name.
But here in Mumbai, you need to have your geography strong enough to guide the auto rickshaws to your own destination. Also, there’d be times of epiphany when you’d find out that almost the similar names have been given to two different areas in two different regions.
For example: Parel would be Central line and Lower Parel would be Western. For the people who are new to this city, such names become a serious matter of worry and understanding.
I have ended up going to wrong places just because of these ambiguous naming conventions this city has followed.
But, thank God for Google Maps and smartphones!
LET’S LIVE AT THE CHURCHGATE STATION
If you’re dreaming of living the ‘hostel’ life in Mumbai, I will give you a first hand suggestion. And that is: either change the city, or change your dream.
Here, you cannot expect colleges to have a hostel of their own when they barely have a campus. And if you want to consider the ‘sarwajanik’ hostels, best of luck- you might be charged an extra amount for asking for a plug point to charge your phone, an additional amount to charge your laptop and also a bomb to keep the lights on after 10:00 pm.
I spent all the time exploiting Google for accommodations for me, but all I got was, paying guests accommodations.
Okay, for sometime I’d say that works well enough for me. But when you go dig deeper, you realise the rent of the paying guest rooms was higher than our SENSEX for 364 days out of 365.
There’ll be times when you’d genuinely consider and feel living on the airport or the railway station for the night ain’t that bad an idea.
Travelling is the last thing you’d want to do in Mumbai, but the unavailability of even a 2 X 2 room for your little soul, will make you travel in the locals and lose a toenail during the peak hours, (quoting this from a first hand experience).
Mumbai kids know just two seasons: monsoon and summer. Half the year we are drowning, and rest half the year we spend in evaporating that same water in which we were drowning.
I clearly remember when I shifted here, I was welcomed by the rains. My train was late for about 4 hours because, duh! monsoon is our priority.
It rains cats and dogs here and makes the entire city a swimming pool for you to chill anywhere and everywhere if at all you want to. Basically, bringing seashore to your doorstep and telling you, ‘Go! The world is your oyster, my child!’
Though, our colleges still manage to conduct regular classes for those six months too. Why not? It’s just monsoon, no one is dying!
In small towns, 2 hours of continuous rains meant an off from school for the day! So in a nutshell, mumbaikars are unaware of the third and fourth seasons. No wonder, they gave me a dead stare, when I said I miss winters and wearing sweaters!
“My first day in Bombay was pretty interesting. Though it was raining, the city made me feet warm, comforting, and snug as a bug in a rug. Basically the love it radiated felt like pizza, circular and enough to go around.”
-Anushka Sachan, BA.LLB, NMIMS
Everyone in Mumbai will accept the fact that we have at least one roadside romeo whom we love dearly- that one food stalls at the road end which tastes just so heavenly and is more pocket friendly than the student discounts everywhere.
The road side breakfasts i.e. the idlis, the vada sambhar and tappri ki chai!
These will never make you miss home for breakfast at least.
The evening fruit salad and sandwiches make sure you keep healthy forever, and the dosa, dabeli and pizza at night, they make sure you enjoy your last meal of the day peacefully and happily. The sugarcane juice, and the coconut water adds to making you healthy while you struggle to find your own identity in this big-yet-small city. And of course, almost everyone here is secretly married to Vada Pav!
“I never had the motivation to wake up 20 mins early and make myself breakfast before college. But I had the motivation to reach 10 minutes early, so that I could have the vada sambhar and that tea near my college. It was my favorite meal of the day.”
-Priyanka Khattri, ex-student, Welingkar Education School
This city is a box full of surprises! It challenges you at every step. It takes away many things from you, but gives you much more in return. Teaches you more things than college and school combined, becomes your best guardian and encourages you to be the bravest you ever. This city is an absolute delight! No wonder, it attracted me and many of us without much difficulty!
“The city challenges you, it’s a race for everyday, a race to cross the roads, a race to board the locals, a race to be alive at the end of the day. It’s about the magic that transforms you, the magic that you feel when you manage to cover your college, internship, gym etc. The satisfaction when you sleep without trying, being able to live to the fullest.”
– Shivangi Mishra, Government Law College.
You might also want to read this: ED VoxPop: The Mumbai Vs Delhi Fight Continues…
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.