From 'Muskuraiye app Lucknow mein hain' to 'Aamchi Mumbai'

Here's how I a 'Nawabi' fell in love with the Maximum City. Initially I hated it, but a year now I have realised that besides all the obvious flaws, I love Mumbai.

From 'Muskuraiye app Lucknow mein hain' to 'Aamchi Mumbai'

From ‘Muskuraiye aap Lucknow mein hain’ to ‘Aamchi Mumbai’ has been an interesting transition for someone from the city of Nawabs to settle in the Maximum City. Also, kins from the north know about the debate over whether it’s ‘pani puri’, ‘golgappe’ or simply ‘pani ke batashe’. Amusingly, we often find ourselves explaining that ‘hum’ is nothing different from the word ‘main’ in Hindi. The list is endless for the number of things strikingly different for an outsider in Mumbai, over which they are often poked. There are innumerable causes for a cat fight between a Northie and a Mumbaikar, competing over food, space, etc. 

Mumbai is an amalgamation of cultures and mindsets with people from across the nation moving to the city of dreams and becoming a part of the financial capital. As mentioned in the media reports published in 2018, around 60% of the population in Mumbai is not natively from the city and hence, the outsider experience here is not such an alien concept. 

Moving to a different state is invariably about first a cultural shock and then about adapting, to be a part of the same culture. My experience with the city has been no different. Having lived in Pune prior to shifting to the Maximum City, Maharashtra was not as alien to me as I thought it would be. However, whether you’re from Mumbai or not, you can’t deny that Mumbai is not just any other city but an experience in itself. 

Although the city tends to become a personal favourite for a lot of people, it takes its own sweet time to grow on an individual. As someone new to the city, I noticed the most obvious flaws about Mumbai, which included shortage of space, the heavy monsoons, the traffic and the commute between areas. 

However, it’s the spirit of the city which makes you fall in love with it, eventually. Despite all the odds, there is something about the city which lures one to stay back and give the city some more time to explore, to reflect and to become a part of it. 

As for me, my relationship with the city has been the love-hate kinds. I don’t say that I hate the city but there are surely some things which don’t connect with me. When I moved here, especially stepping in the work life, I found the lifestyle here to be too busy, unlike the day of a typical Lucknowi, slow and relaxed. This striking difference is because of the varying pace of both the cities. Invariably for any outsider, Mumbai is the fastest amongst all. And whether we accept it or not, this seems like a big difference to most of us. Some make peace with it or choose to leave in few years. But as the practice goes, when something needs to be tested, it’s always better to give it a year. And that is precisely the amount of time Mumbai took to start growing on me. 

Experiencing the Mumbai Rains and the Ganpati festival helped me understand the city a little better than what I objectively knew of it. At various instances, Mumbai showcased an awe-worthy spirit which left me inspired and driven. The belief system of Mumbaikars lured me to explore more, both personally and with my surroundings, for each element of the city seems to be narrating a little story. One thing that attracted me towards the city the most is that I have not met a single person, beyond my professional space, who isn’t driven about achieving something in life. No wonder, Mumbai is known as the city of dreams, because everyone around you has and agenda and a plan you are going to be totally clueless about. 

From to nearly hating the city in the first few months, I grew to love it. Foraging for something to hold on to amidst the challenges, I got introduced to the standup culture. Meeting a diverse set of people with unique stories and backgrounds, I realised that Mumbai offers you much more than any other city can ever will.  

Despite the initial language barrier, the ones who chose to stay in Mumbai a little longer than a year, realise that by and by the city warms up to you and the people are equally accepting and caring. However, it is, indeed, for the bravehearts and the adventurers, but if you’re not one of them, you will learn to be courageous, wild, free and independent, only if you have a little patiencem and this is something Mumbai taught me in the best possible way. 

Yes, accustomed to a politer tone as a Lucknowi, Marathi as a language was a little sharp on my ears. Living in Lower Parel initially, just added on to the commercial aspect of the city. But I gave it a year and there’s no place I would want to be in more than Mumbai in itself. Besides all the obvious flaws, I love it!

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