City of Blinding Lights

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Why does this city look so different during the night from the day? Do people also seem different in the night from the day? There has always been something about this city after dark; it’s a whole new life at night.

Just as people put on their best look and get out at night, the city also puts on its jewels. The diamond lit marine drive, the tantalizing Juhu Beach, the palatable food at Mohammad Ali Road, the enticing Gateway of India the list of places to visit at night is never ending. It’s a city that never sleeps. Whatever time one decided to venture out you will find a substantial number of people on the streets and roads.

Although when people generally talk about Mumbai’s nightlife, I observed that most of the people relate it to the clubs and pubs, all the dancing, partying and drinking. They tend to overlook the actual beauty the city has to offer to its people. We tend to take the things given to us for free for granted. The fact that one can walk down the streets of Mumbai without thinking of getting raped or mugged is quite an achievement. I would generally think twice before stepping out alone forget night even during the day in any other city but Mumbai in India. But Mumbai is always bustling with people and also because of the open environment; it doesn’t come as a shock to the people here.

You can get food at every nook and corner at anytime of the day or night here. There were times when I was living in Manchester there was nothing to eat because everything shuts down at 8 pm and all the restaurants at 11pm. It came as a shock to me on my visit to Mohammad Ali road, where at three in the morning the place was packed with people. I have never seen so many people anywhere at that time of the night. There were people of all ages, from all backgrounds at the same place. No one cared about his or her caste, colour or status. Why couldn’t the world be like that? This city for sure unites you and the only caste that exists is called humanity.

The city is one offers safety, security, food, peace and sanity. Where there is no differentiation on the basis of anything and varied number of options to choose from for everything. What more can a person ask out of life? Hence a trip to Mumbai is sure to be incomplete without experiencing its nightlife.

Why Travel?

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Journey to a new place, for me, is like the best kind of love affair; where you learn a new language to express your love, where you seize who you are, who you’re in love with, where sometimes lose track of where you’re going but still carry on for the thrill and adventure, and where with every journey begins a love story, some classic, some great and some which last forever. For all you know, it doesn’t even matter if the story has been written before, because no two love stories can ever be the same.

Journey to a foreign land, for me, is like a quest for the unknown, where we travel in search of both self and anonymity. We battle between who we are and who we should be, where we are and where we should be. We travel to lose ourselves, and sometimes to find ourselves. As Pico Iyer sagely puts it, ” What we find outside ourselves has to be inside ourselves for us to find it.”

So, when I ask myself, why do I want to see the world? Why is it essential to go to a place, and then why write about it later? My head says, “Because I want to examine different cultures, experience different lifestyles, explore different opportunities, embrace different moments.” While my heart says, “Because I just want to try and find a piece of myself everywhere I go to put together one day.” I would say, a tourist is merely a person who complains, “It’s not the same as in my country.” Whereas a traveler claims, “It’s not the same anywhere I go.” Traveling is not a just a hobby or holiday, it’s a way of life. For this life I would travel everywhere, anywhere, sometimes again, and sometimes even if it means falling in love over a 100 times.

It’s snake boat race day!

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Oh thithi thara thithey, thithey thaka they they tho…

Oh thithi thara, thithey thaka they they tho…

Oh thithi thara thithey, thithey thaka they they thom…

When I woke up this morning I was extremely energised. Although I am born and brought up in Kerala, I have never gone to watch the glorious Nehru Cup snake boat race ever. I was very excited, even though I had no clue how the race was going to be or if it would be worth at all. At that moment I was more charged to use my DSLR camera which I was going to use after almost a year. Since iPhones I have been so lazy to use any other than the phone camera; instagraming pictures all the time.

The journey had begun. One hour to go till we reached the site of the event. We were four of us but none had any idea about what was going to happen there. The thrill of the whole experience lied in the ambiguity of it. Even so the entire time I was extremely skeptical to use the camera since I had lost all practice of using it. To top it all as soon as we got there it started to rain; with it washed away all my hopes of trying to click any pictures, but we thought we shall still give it a shot. And once we reached there it was so crazily crowded, noisy and slushy; I had somewhere given up hope of watching the race. There was no way in hell we would have made it inside. Just then we found a pole and got a little adventurous. Each of us took turns to climb on it to get at least one glimpse of the event. I got a little greedy, I asked one of my friend’s to hold the umbrella for me while I stood on the pole and took at least one picture of the event.

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So I did manage to get one, however unprofessional looking and blurred it was. I was happy at that moment and thought that at least I had proof of being there.

We started to head back thinking we won’t get any closer so no point staying. That’s when we saw a little door, where only tourists could enter. We went through there, to finally realise we were adjacent to the finish line.

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We squished, squashed, tugged through the crowd and somehow managed to get a little closer to the water.

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It was an amazing sight even though I was mashed between three sweaty, tacky and alcohol breath locals.

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The entire place looked spectacular. There was a thrill in the air that was so contagious. The crowd cheering, the speeches overwhelming, the boats were just getting lined up; all set to race.

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I was standing on my toes to get a glimpse of the entire spectacle, trying to capture the moment each time.

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The men looked geared up and packed with energy.
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But the roar from the crowd grew louder when a boat rowed by all women made an appearance.
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The crowd was everywhere. There were houseboats lined up in front, some watching comfortably from their personal yachts, some swimming in water, some camouflaged on top of the trees.
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The boats now started to move towards the starting point; the race was about to begin any minute.
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The umpires were scattered everywhere, with their eyes concentrated on the boats passing by.
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The fire force taking its position. Ready for the boats to set the scene ablaze with excitement.
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There were cops lazing around on boats waiting in anticipation.
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The divers sitting tight, anxious and alert.
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While I was waiting at the edge taking pictures of the now impatient crowd and the calm waters which in no time would be flooded with boats racing for honor and life.
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Just then, my friend screamed from a distance that the race has begun. It was all haphazard henceforth. The boats were being rowed so quickly, I barely got a glance.
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We hurried back as soon as boat number# 16 touched the finish line, as we were in no condition to go through a stampede on our way out of the place. The walk back to the car was peaceful, yet enlivening after watching one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful event. I don’t know if I will ever come back to watch it, but it definitely is a one time experience every person should live.