Imagine you are at this party that you avoid getting out of and you have dragged yourself to it!! Of course, you are a well-mannered boy, who stops on the way to pick up a box of mithai…and when you reach the five floor building, are relieved, it has a lift, even though it’s an old creaky one, with two grill sliding doors. It brings a smile on your face …Wow! Lifts like these still exist!! As you crush yourself in the corner with the old sulking liftman perched on a stool and a heavily dressed couple, the lift is already full! The couple gets off on the same floor with you and before you can find the house they are already heading into the open entrance of one, lit with candles and diyas and lots of flowers. “Well, guess this is Sujoy’s place,” you think! After reconfirming the flat no., you patiently wait your turn to enter the house…a young beautiful lady greets the couple warmly and introduces herself…the loud couple continues conversing in the passage, cribbing about how much traffic there was and that this was their 3 Diwali pit stop this evening…Ahem! You clear your throat but all in vain, as it goes unheard in the loud chattering coming from the living room and the busy domestic help running from the kitchen with drinks and platters, the bunch of girls giggling in the corner and young guys carrying beers, to the house next door. You finally build up your guts and say “Excuse me!” to which the couple realises they have blocked your path. The young beautiful lady looks at you with anticipation and greets you Happy Diwali…You say, Hi I am Sujoy’s friend! To which she replies…Oh Hello! I am his wife Nisha…and points to the house next door…”Just push the door….he’s in there!
“Hey Sujoy!” you greet warmly, when you enter the house next door and spot him… “Hey buddy thanks for coming yaar,” he says …with a big hug and slams a beer into your hand…come I’ll introduce you to my friends…He leads you to a room filled with bunch of guys and gals hanging out…looking as if they wanted to avoid the formalities and pleasantries being exchanged by all uncles and aunties in the living room!! Ok this is better you think! Youngster zone! Phew!
Awkward moments pass by along with awkward smiles exchanged…and finally a conversation is struck with the typical “So what do you do?!” And that gets the balls of conversation rolling and thennnnnnn, when you tell them that you are a part of the travel business, and your recent trips being Singapore, Hong Kong, Sweden, Dubai, Bali and Shenzhen is followed by sounds that I enjoy the most…Oohs and aahs!!
Travel…you know…is such an engaging topic at any party and before you realise it, the conversation has travelled the world and back, from sightseeing to airfares, airports and visa issues, mugging stories to street food spots…
And when I say back I mean… Our City!! It has to…it’s like some unwritten rule…a given, the cynics and the spirited ones (both “alcohol high” and “high on Mumbai”) are suddenly all excited with eyes wide open, and the voices get louder!
Besides travel, there are a few topics, according to me, are like a must in every party, or get together…HAHAH!!
First there is good ol’ Delhites vs Mumbaites
And then there is the evergreen India vs “Foren” debate
Cricket…Our Religion (even girls can talk cricket now…trust me I know a few!)
Dirty Politicians and the system that sucks…the gussa vala topic
Traffic and Flyovers, frustrations and adjustments that go with this way of living
And of course….the all time favorite SOBO vs Suburbs!! Trust me it still exists!
SOBO…now what’s that? When I first heard this word (almost 5-7 years back) and then it occurred to me…Duh!! Oh! Acronym for South Bombay…SO BO!
Now I am not gonna go on and on out with the usual debatable hot points raised all the time, that we all know (Ok maybe a few;)
SOBO- The South Bombaites (note its Bombay and not Mumbai for some yet!) think suburbs begin after Worli seaface
Burbs- The burbs (read further to know why burbs) call it ‘going to “Bombay” or “Town”
SOBO– Think auto rickshaws are for poor people
Burbs– Think they have better buildings with pools and gyms
SOBO– Wadala is a place where ones driver stays…hahaha (I love this one)
Burbs – Home Delivery for everything, veggies et al, even one strip of crocin is a privilege that only we have (this point is like hitting a six)
Trust me I can go on…from both ends…have heard some real weird ones too…but I would need an A certificate for our blog…hahhahahahha!
Now for the real picture…
Born and raised in “South Bombay”, I moved to the “suburbs” called Andheri when I turned 21. At that time, I think it was the most traumatic experience of my life!
It meant disconnecting with everything “Bombayish”, my cricket playground, my friends (what if I am phased out because of distance), ghar jaise neighbours, local general store credit, taxis, marine drive in the rains, my life basically…I would have to take the train for all of that…it really sucked!
To make things worse my friends started calling me a “burb” n mocked me about moving to a village with buffalos around me. Uff!
However, the funniest one I got was …Udhar toh bahut shooting chalta hai na! To which I replied, “Ya a lot of films are shot there”…to which my dear dost replied …”Tch! Arey nooooo, it’s where the underworld stays and “shoots” each other all day!” Oh noooooooooooo, I thought!
Slowly, I started getting over the “trauma” and made new friends and kept all the old ones who stuck by…
But of course, I initially connected faster with people who said they were from “sOBO” (what is it? Some chemical locha kya??) There were quite a few who had moved from Pedder Road, Napean Sea Road, Altamaount Road, Bombay Central, VT and even Cuffe Parade!
Over the years I have grown up!
I now have friends from all over Mumbai, from school, from college, from work, from “old” building, from “new” building and lots more other “groups”. I travel all across the city for work and leisure. The divide has disappeared!
But, after living both ends my city, one for 20 and the other for over a decade, I feel what is it about living in SOBO that I miss the most and the final conclusion was nothing, except the fact that if I had my residence there, as per current real estate value, it would be more valuable. That’s it! Rest all is accessible.
I now have the final laugh when my friends from SOBO or “townies” as some use the term, prefer to party in the suburbs. Yes life is easier, thanks to the Bandra– Worli Sea Link, the party circuit circumference has now expanded…
At times when I am driving by the roads of town, I vent loudly, why is it so dead??
Ok… Now comes my most filmy argument…To all my friends who have seen DDLJ, you will probably get this! The scene where Shahrukh and Amrish Puri feed pigeons and apna Raj raises a point to babuji, “kya aisa nahee ho sakta hai ki London ke kuch kabutar yaha ud ke aaye aur yaha ka ek kabutar bahut door apne vatan ko chod chad ke kahi door chale jaaata hai…usme bhi ab bhi vahi mitti ki khushboo nahee aayegi!?? “ And babuji slowly warms up to Raj…
Too much??!! Hahaha…My point is basically…All the attention has split equally across akhaa Mumbai. Such as Lit up Heritage sites like VT station (sorry baba…CST), Starbucks in town & Goregaon, Huge Malls from Lower Parel to Vashi, Firecracker madness on Marine Drive to Lokhandwala Diwali lights, etc.
In fact, a tad bit more towards the non-southern end of Mumbai such as the Real estate explosion, Retail, Diamond market, Call Centers, Corporate Honchos, Celebrities, (psst… my colleagues in Thailand & Singapore envy the fact that I live a couple of blocks away from the man himself, Big B!
Apna SOBO will always have Marine drive, Kala Godha festival, largest Ganesh visarjan in chowpatty, Colaba causeway, Antilla, Inox, Taj Hotel, Shoe vala garden, Heera panna shopping center, Leo Pold, etc. etc. but it does have lesser SOBOites now…coz a good bunch has moved further north, west and east!

Before I go I will leave you with few thoughts?!
One …ab toh bas kar mere baap.. yeh SOBO ya Burbs giri!!
Two…The party I visited was in SOBO or Suburbs!!??? Am I a SOBOy or Suburban Buoy?

- By OCOW Diarist

P.S. Am glad the airplane is back in the airplane garden in Juhu! #Just sayin