Mumbai meri jaan — a city that never sleeps, a city that dares to dream, so much so that it is famously known as the ‘city of dreams’. Being a Mumbaikar, who was born and brought up in the city, I’ve come across these phrases time and again. But how often do we actually sit and reflect on them?
Well, the answer is – not enough. So, here I am, Alia Bhatt, who was born, bred and fed in Juhu. Actually, I was fed all over the city, since I eat everywhere. But the big question is — what makes me a true Mumbaikar? Is it my love for long drives in the rain or our new plush Bandra-Worli sea link? Is it my love for the not-so-clean sea? Or my anger towards the not-so-clean beaches? Or my love-hate feelings for the constant flooding? Talking of that, I must admit that I used to love it when we would bunk school because of waterlogging, but hated the same floods when we lost so many lives in the July 26 tragedy.
I guess there will never be one reason why Mumbai is my jaan, but the truth is that it will always be. Jaan means life and Mumbai is synonymous with life. One would imagine that the perspective of an actor towards his or her city would be superficial, largely made up of studios, parties and suites at hotels across the city. But I beg to differ. We see our city clearly from the skies when we land from other cities. While landing, my eyes fall on the lights, the cars, the pace, the people, and then the slums. There’s beauty in the lights, and then there’s harsh reality with the slums. We have it all. We have the markets of Colaba Causeway and Hill Road (Bandra), where every young girl has dreams of transforming herself into a fashionista with one strut down the road. These are places where even I have shopped a number of times
We also have our famous Nana Nani parks. I love how they’re called that. They are so subtle with their attributes. Mumbai is a city where our superstars’ houses are used as landmarks. Several times, you must have heard someone say, “Amitabh Bachchan ke ghar se left lena (take a left from Amitabh Bachchan’s house)”, or “No bro, we crossed Mannat (Shah Rukh Khan’s house)”, or “Come to Galaxy (Salman Khan’s home).” I hope I make it to this landmark list one day.
And, of course, the food is worth talking about. According to me, we’re not known so much for our food, but for our food joints — Shiv Sagar, Bademiya (Colaba), Amar Juice Centre (Juhu), Qualities Frankie (Andheri), Chaat Wala on the 6th Road (Juhu), Nandu Dosa Wala (Juhu) and all our gola-waalas. Forgive me if I’m going on and on about food. I’m a girl who is always on a diet. So, fanaticising about food is a frequent occurrence for me.
I might have missed out on our historical gateways, the aquarium and the famous Hanging Gardens (Malabar Hill), which are lovely and great. But what I wanted to talk about were the other things that make this city what it is… and that’s the spirit of this city. The spirit, more than anything else, is made up of energies. Energy that comes from its people, who fall, rise, cry, laugh, jump, jog, sing and scream in the same city their entire lives. But they have one thing in common — ‘aamchi Mumbai’.