June 26th, 2007


Since I have moved to Mumbai, there have been people coming upto me and asking "So how are you finding Bombay!" in different accents, tones, and gestures. In polite interest, I do not much mind, but people are surprised when I say 'Its just another city'. Well, it is! It is just another city folks! There are certain things here and certain things missing. So, it is a bigger city than many others, but it is not so very distinct from other cities! People stay here, just like anywhere else, and there are quirks.
I will henceforth write somethings about the city, not because it is Bombay, but because I tend to write about things around me, just like I have mentioned Abad once or twice. Its just that by the time I started on this blog, I had already attuned a lot to Abad. With Bombay there is a general comfort in the city, but there are many bugging things, and I will discourse on them from time to time. Please note, it has nothing to do with the city in question being Bombay, I would do the same about Bhubaneshwar. (Why did I choose Bhubaneshwar? I dont know!)
So, brace yourself to hear some stuff occassionally on Mumbai.

The Phoebe Syndrome? Smelly Cat...

Mumbai is a very adventurous city. If you have a strong, or even not-so-stron nose especially.
That basically means everyone.
Around every street corner is a new odour waiting to assial you. Engulf you in its open arms, and make you feel its distinct presence.
[Aside: Reminds me of the beggar in Discworld Series (by Terry Pratchett) whose smell was so strong, it had a personality of its own. Heres a snippet:
There was this to be said about the Smell of Foul Ole Ron, an odour so intense that it took on a personality of its own and fully justified the capital letter: after the initial shock the organs of smell just gave up and shut down, as if no more able to comprehend the thing than an oyster can comprehend the ocean. After some minutes in its presence, wax would trickle out of people's ears and their hair would begin to bleach.
It had developed to such a degree that it now led a semiindependent life of its own, and often went to the theatre by itself, or read small volumes of poetry. Ron was outclassed by his Smell."]

So, when you enter the city, if you happen to take the rail/ road way, with open windows, you will get the first whiff of the city. The waters near Vasai. Suddenly you will have a dull rotting smell waft upto your nostrils, till you find yourself involuntarily looking around for the cause. Its not far away. its the sea over which you are passing.

Every waterbody in Mumbai stinks. And each has its own category of stink. They all have a different Smell. the Canal near my office which opens out to the sea bears black waters. and smells foul.
Even the disinfected water from taps can be found to smell of chlorine.

Every street corner you turn there is an odour of sweating bodies, or that of rotting rubbish. To top it all is the odour of Bombay Duck, which, as has been mentioned many times by many authors, is not a duck, but a variety of fish, sun dried and then cooked and eaten. Why you would want to sun dry fish I dont know, but apparently it is a delicacy here. I never have, and probably will not taste it. The smell keeps me a mile away.

The smells are not extremely overpowering except on occassion, however, the continuous bad odours inhaled by your nose do tend to have a degrading effect on your mind. You yearn for some odourless area. Perfumes on self are also odours, and once you reach home, you breathe-in in relief!
Temporary relief till the next milestone. Your next big adventure on the roads of the city Mumbai.