I went to Mumbai to fall in love. And I found love at its best.
I was ringing in a new year in a relatively new city, for reasons beyond flashy parties and beautiful sunsets.
There’s something about feeling worthy of greatness that brings greatness about. Something about feeling deserving of love that brings love about. And something about Christian talk radio that helps solidify all the awesome thoughts you (ahem: I) may have about yourself (ahem: myself). Shout out to Dr. David Anderson and Joel Osteen!
Yes, I was listening to an inspirational podcast when I set foot in Mumbai. But, whenever I set foot in Mumbai, I feel great. This time, in particular, I felt a pulse that I haven’t felt since I left New York. Mumbai is a city with a torrid past, a promising future, and an invigorating present. It, like New York, is electric.
Whatever it is you don’t like about Mumbai is a reflection of what you don’t like about yourself. (This is a fact.) And, I love Mumbai. So what does that say, exactly? I found myself feeling overwhelmingly deserving of everything the city has to offer. I loved the gritty women who just don’t give a damn what you think and the eerie presence of violence under the surface of fame. I loved what it lacked by way of high culture and what it exudes by way of inclusion. I found myself wondering what this overwhelming exuberance said about me. Feeling at home in its shops and cafes in Bandra and among its jewelers, galleries, and design shops in Colaba, should mean something about my future. It couldn’t just be a reflection or a remembrance of my New York City past.
Instead, Mumbai has been for me a choice to be where I breathe easy, a choice to be where I can have the sea and the skyscrapers. It has meant believing that I can have it all. It has meant finding that place and thriving there – not fighting against a current in an environment not meant for me. It has meant believing that I deserve it all, without compromise. And believing that the only kind of love I will accept is the kind that loves me when I am in this state – when I can (and when I do) almost get hit by a speeding scooter in front of Pali Village Cafe on my way to meet up with a friend in a flat I’ve never been to. Careless and reckless and passionate but divinely protected.
Love is such an uninhibited and adventurous spirit. Somehow its both illusory and ever-present. But, it is – surely – a result of individual choices made. It’s a choice to move past partition, past the riots following the Babri Masjid demolition, past the terrorist attacks, past everything that means that success is too far away to be real. Moving past pain and death, past lies told and atrocities committed by people who swore you allegiance. It is this fight under the surface. It is the gentle tremble of disquiet that is motivating. It is this constant agitation that makes you remember that you have worked for what you have – your view of this sunshine is not actually priceless. Your little sliver of Linking Road was fought for and won, so you best be worthy.
This trip to Mumbai made me feel just that – un-mistakeably worthy: in the right place, at the right time, and for a purpose. The pride of the place is contagious. You have to explain to yourself just how exactly it is that you found yourself hobnobbing, schmoozing and snickering amongst these lovely people. Then someone points out that you are a member of this bunch, a card toting up and comer in a world that believes you should have your work and your wine on hawk covered balconies too. It is a city of balance for believers, and a venus fly trap for those who lack self-confidence.
Fortunately for me, this is where I find myself feeling like a princess – enamored and endearing, but demanding ‘what do you bring to the table?’
As I departed Chatrapati Shivaji Airport, I could have sworn that city answered, “You’re a stubborn hard ass, but I love you biotch! ”
I reclined in the emergency exit row, stretched my Michael Kors boots, and exhaled my exhaustion of fairytales.
Some of us aren’t looking to be saved.
I got what I came for.