Voyage to the El Dorado

Man’s indefatigable desire to travel has led to the discoveries of innumerable lands and civilisations. Wanderlust is something that helps man to reinvent his own self at times. Life without exploration and enterprise is almost like a room without furniture.

So I thought of undertaking a journey to Mumbai when opportunity came my way. It was the 21st of August 2016, when students were given a holiday of 3 days. That is when I decided that since I am in Pune, I should exploit this opportunity to the fullest extent in order to roam around and see what this hullabaloo was about Mumbai. For anyone who has not visited Mumbai, the city to them is all about Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan and SRK’s Mannat. Apart from that there is also the local train of Mumbai which is so characteristic of the lifestyle in the city. All these reasons collated and resulted into my trip to the city of dreams and Bollywood.

Raahil and I had planned that we would be staying over at Aditya’s place and then take a tour of the city. We had only 3 days in hand which I thought we should utilize to the maximum possible extent. It started with the day we reached – as soon as we arrived, our unpacking and settling started and immediately after finishing the dinner which Aditya’s mother had already prepared for us, we left his residence at 10 pm. Our first destination – the much talked about Marine Drive, which was a mere 10 minute walk from Aditya’s house, that is Marine Lines.

The entire stretch of Marine Drive was overflowing with posh and exuberant houses. But the visual of the sea at night was something different and Aditya explained to me why it is famously called the ‘Queen’s necklace’. The coastline of the sea actually appeared as if it was wearing a necklace well illumined by the street lights, a visual delight.

From there the three of us made a walk toward Horniman Circle through Churchgate, continuing to Asiatic society and taking a taxi back home. That walk was indeed a memorable one. Our plan was set for the next day. Our first stop for the day was the Gateway of India, from where we intended to catch a ferry to Elephanta caves. Personally, I did not find Gateway of India to be an exceptional work of art and it failed to impress me. Nevertheless we took the ferry to Elephanta in a fine weather as it started to drizzle. I noticed a bunch of foreigners in the same ferry. Reaching elephant island was not the end of the task for we still had to climb over 100 steps to reach the caves. The place was infested with monkeys and shops decorated the stairs on both the sides selling a variety of products from artefacts to mementos to clothes and so on.

Experience at the Elephanta caves was intriguing because of the mesmerizing architecture and the history attached to it. The experience at Elephanta mitigated that day’s tiredness a little and we found solace in one of the corners of the caves where we just sat quietly and rested for a while. Leaving from there, we headed toward Colaba for our lunch after which we visited the Colaba Causeway, the paradise of street shopping and one of the favourite places of both locals and tourists. Finally it was back home after the day’s hectic schedule but we still had the effrontery to go out for another late night walk along Marine Drive for the second consecutive day.

Our final day was an amalgamation of rush and tranquility – rush of the Mumbai local which we finally got to travel in and the tranquility of Juhu and Bandra beach. Like every other visitor, even I wanted to see Amitabh, Tendulkar, Salman and Shahrukh’s house but eventually it turned out to be an empty shell.

The grandeur and patina of glamour in these celebrity residences was actually very superficial when measured in terms of the time invested for the expedition. But Mumbai had its aura of exuberance which did achieve to grab my attention and left me awe-inspired by the city’s juxtaposition of modernity and primordial architecture.

Starting from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, to the Horniman Circle and the Mumbai GPO, all these monumental works were pleasing to the eye which one can only stand and admire.

Also, a film festival I attended at a single screen theatre near Aditya’s house and the experience of gourmandizing on the popular paanipuri of Mumbai deserves a special mention in this account.

Our quotidian lives had already summoned us. We were ready to return to Pune after our short serendipity. The trip was rejuvenating, helping me to purge myself of the monotony of life by opening a new avenue in order to absorb the adrenaline of the madness called Mumbai. The visit taught me lessons, helped me to discover and come out of my comfort zone in a land that is intrinsically arresting. The city gifted me piquant moments to cherish. But the moment I entered my hostel room, it felt as if it was the hors d’oeuvre that we finished and the main course was about to take some more time to arrive at our table.

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