We reached Mumbai the next day. Finally.
Before we got home, we drove to a close-by elevated point with a good view of Hiranandani. Pranav showed me a building which was once the widest in Asia. I sat on the pavement and looked around. After five mins, Nair stamped the butt of his cigarette, putting it out and we left for home. I didn’t feel too alright, it was the traveling perhaps. But there were so many places I wanted to see. For the first time, I had done some research before traveling. Ignoring my feverish feeling, I freshened up and told myself that this was going to be good.
We relaxed at Costa coffee a while. The hot chocolate was soothing; it did my throat some good. We walked across the road to Galleria to grab some food. A couple of hours later, we left for a long drive. Dhivya, one of their friends, joined us.
We went to Bandra first. Bandra West to be more specific. Known all over India for its “urban coolness” and “glitzy shopping”, the suburb was colorful, lively and swarming with riveted girls. We got down at either Linking road or Hill road, I’m unable to recollect. As Chandna had told me earlier, it was a charming place for a stroll in the evening while making occasional entries into random piquant shops. We were evidently late, most of the shops were closing for the day. We managed to find a stretch of shops still open; we began there. We went into shoe shops with promising discounts, lingerie shops and clothes shops. An hour later, we got back to the car and got in, ignoring the unhappy expressions we got from the men.
We then drove via the Sea Link. Pranav explained to me how easy the bridge had made life for anyone wanting to commute between Bandra and Worli. What would have taken one – two hours at the least now took a minute. My fascination for the sea made me sit up and listen intently as I stared outside and upwards fascinated. It was a beauty, the bridge. The city, from the bridge, looked like it was more alive than it was through the day; typical of all that Mumbai is known for. With Nair at the driver’s seat, the drive on the Sea Link lasted less than a minute.
A while later, Pranav showed me Haji Ali Dargah far away in the sea. It shone bright standing out from the dark waters surrounding it. It looked elegant, just like in the pictures, just like I had pictured it. This was the one place I wanted to see more than all others. I wanted to walk on the pathway with the sea ‘s mildly surging waters hitting the edges. I wanted to walk to the middle and experience all that I had read from pages on the internet. Sadly, we didn’t have adequate time that day. Haji Ali was out of sight in no time. I was shown Mukesh Ambani’s residence, the name of which I later found out, is Antilia. Most of what I could see was made of glass; I’d have never realized it was a residential building, had I not been told so. It was grand, it stood very very high in a funnily disproportional way though. 27 floors I was told. I was amused. After a turn somewhere, Nair pointed to me the stretch of sea along the road. It was Marine Drive.
We parked the car and found a peaceful place to sit. The wall was lined with dykes to assuage the waves. I looked at the waves, like I have always looked at them: amazed. There is something about seas and me, I do not know to explain. I can sit and stare for hours. I could smell the saltiness. My hair could certainly feel the humidity of the sea.
I was shown the circular building rotating ceaselessly about its vertical axis – the Ambassador hotel. Nair pointed out to a faraway point where the numerous spots of light seemed to end. He said it was the Nariman Point. I remembered that name clearly from the 2008 Mumbai attacks. I let my eyes wander around. Next to me, a girl aged about 12 was trying to get hold of a toddler running around. She looked like the little one’s nanny. Soon, it was time to get going.
We dropped Ajay at Dadar. He got on his bus to Pune. We headed to Hiranandani where I met Pratham, a friend from college, next to one of the fountains. It was nice to see him after a year. We chatted a while and hugged good bye.
As I got home with Chandna, I realized it was a trip for me and just another day for the others – all Mumbaikars.