Having lived away from Mumbai for almost 9 years and out of India for more than 5 years now, I had a chance to experience the lifestyle and culture of India and of ‘The Philippines.
Philippines is one of the most beautiful Island countries in the world. It consists of over 7000 breathtakingly beautiful Islands. The people here are so welcoming, pleasant and helpful. It truly is a wonderful experience living in this part of the world. Philippines’ almost feels like home now as its coastal feel and warmhearted people remind me so much of Amchi Mumbai !!
I invariably tend to compare every city or every country I have been to, to Mumbai. Being a Mumbaikar I’m biased to the Mumbai lifestyle.. I like a fast paced life.. easy-going people.. minding your own business attitude.. smiling faces even in crowded places.. I love the rush.. the crazy chaos..the noise of traffic and construction places.. the way we all transform into meta-humans in times of any calamities be it a flood in the rains or a fight with a manipulating rickshaw wala..there is almost always someone in the crowd ready to help.
We don’t have to be related or may have never even actually know each other but there is an unseen bond that keeps every Mumbaikar connected and the happiness shows on our faces when we meet 🙂
So with all this history of thoughts and feelings about Mumbai and Mumbaikars, every time I got a chance to meet any Mumbaikar outside Mumbai or for that matter anyone from Maharashtra..I just felt at home. Talking in Marathi and sharing Marathi jokes was something I missed once I left Mumbai. Even if you are not a Maharastrian, I guess ‘Marathi’ as a language is so dear to any Mumbaikar.. It’s the language which helps us connect to the average middle class in Mumbai and they are the ones who keep Mumbai humble and running. Mumbai has also taught me one very important lesson in life which I try to pass on to my children every day and that’s to be ‘humble’ and there is no shame in being yourself…your work does not define you but how you do that work definitely shows who you are..
You may be a vada pav seller or a newspaper guy or a lady making flower gajras in the train, or a little girl selling hair accessories at the railway platform…you may belong to a middle class family struggling to make ends meet or may be a rich dude handling his ancestral business.. the occupation does not matter cause at the end of the day even the rich dude knows that any 5 Star restaurants cannot match the delicious vada pavs we get outside most railway stations and that simple vada pav guy must be earning much more than the dude himself- The circle of life in Mumbai… when the best of two occupations coexist.. irrespective of their financial status.
This experience is so humbling and in Mumbai we have so many of these encounters on a daily basis where we are on first name basis with the Bhel wali and material wali in the train or the eunuch at the signal.. these interactions keep us down to earth no matter where we go.
This is something I tell my kids.. “be the best of whatever you are”- Lines from Douglas Malloch’s Poem that we learnt in school.. One of my all time favorite 🙂
If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley – but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree….
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail –
Be the best of whatever you are!
All of this directed to being the best kind of Human Being!