I just returned from a friend’s place. We had a long mid- afternoon chat during which she offered me tea. Her domestic help Raju was summoned and was asked to get us some tea and light refreshment. We continued to chat and soon an appetizing aroma filled the room. And no sooner Raju walked in carrying a tray laden with piping hot visually appealing burger breads split into halves layered with an exotic looking paste. Not being inclined to cooking myself I could not differentiate the ingredients used. All I knew was that it tasted super! I was impressed and complimented Raju. Smiling shyly but with evident pride he left the room. My friend informed, “He is on a cooking spree. He makes a new dish every single day from a recipe he picks off the net!!” I looked at her in complete disbelief and said, “He uses a computer??” “Not only is he computer literate he is net savvy too,” she retorted more proud than Raju. This Raju had come to her from Bihar just a year ago and was only seventh pass. But he was a keen learner. Every afternoon after he was done with his work he would sit on the computer and taught himself not only how to use it but slowly began surf the net for recipes. So excited was he with what he found he began to experiment with them to please his masters. And the results pleased not only his employers but their guests as well. Raju was on a roll. He had found his niche.
This happens only in Mumbai. A city that welcomes you with open arms and offers you countless opportunities. And once you embrace these opportunities Mumbai becomes your home.

For the millions who have come here over the past century Mumbai has different connotations.  For those looking for a break in the film industry or a visitor from a village it is a concrete jungle with beaches thrown in. For those who have come here to make a career for themselves it is their new home and the place that gives them their livelihood. A place they now call their home.

Let me talk of yet another Raju. One day my domestic help Ram walked in with a 15 year old who looked not a day older than 10, visibly malnourished and with bulging eyes. Ram explained that 15 year old Sumant was an orphan and a distant cousin of his. He had brought him from his village near Hyderabad as he could not get a square meal a day. The boy spoke in monosyllables and understood only Telugu. Initially he hated the city and would yearn to go back to his village as life in this city was very complicated and busy for him. Today it is just about 14 months that he is here and the boy does not want to go back. Not only does he earn about Rs 10000 a month as a domestic help he possesses a mobile phone and can sing Hindi film songs. Sumant has not just become tech savvy but grown in physical form and looks well fed and wears smart tees over jeans. He tells me he saves money every month and sends it to his ailing grandmother back in home in his village. Now he too has made Mumbai his home.
So whenever I hear people say that Mumbai is city of wolves, a city with no heart or a brutal place to make a home in I am up in arms. It is a city which offers hope, dreams and opportunities. It is a city which is vibrant, with a huge heart and magical. I can say with conviction that anyone who comes to this city will not go to sleep on a hungry stomach. If he is unable to get himself a meal someone will surely give him one. The city has a heart of gold. Haven’t we seen this is many a Hindi movie or encountered it even in real life?

With a teeming population Mumbai is bursting at its seams and is India’s largest city.  It is one of the most diverse, cosmopolitan and westernized cities of this country. It depicts a place that is always up and about, a city with a spirit of gold and a determination to never say die, even in the wake of terrorist attacks and natural calamities.

So when Pramod came to Mumbai to eke out a living he did not have any education nor any money in his pocket. Seven years later he owns a house in Nallasopara, can drive any car you give him and is good with computers. He has a savings bank account and can read and understand basic English. I could go on and on about many such cases. But it is not the people in this who are important. It is all about the city called Mumbai.

And hence I am reminded of the Mumbai song we sang when growing up…The ladies are nice, the gents are full of spice, Bom Bom Bom Bombay meri hai!!

jahnavi pal 2By Jahnavi Pal – Columnist and TV Analyst
Having strayed into the wonderful world of journalism about two decades ago today this profession still excites me. For the past few years I watched the television industry as an insider and wrote on the burgeoning television business. I also wrote a popular TV column called ‘ TV Talk’ for a leading newspaper. Currently, I freelance and write on a variety of subjects.