Mumbaikar again!

How does one begin? Apologies for the long unannounced absence? But after a point, repeated apologies seem meaningless, don’t they? So let me begin as if it’s business as usual instead.

A lot has happened since I last blogged. The trip to Mahabaleshwar was fun. The husband went back to business school after the break. A short trip to Indore happened in the interim. And then the grand news – the husband finished his MBA and decided to take up an offer in Mumbai of all places! Now he already had a prior offer in Chennai, so I had been preparing myself to set up home there. One would think we would be overjoyed to go back to the city where both our families live – the husband and I are both born and brought up in Mumbai – but I was very apprehensive initially.

Ever since we graduated and got married, we have never lived in the city of our birth. Yes, I used to be a Mumbaikar and even traveled by the infamous local trains for four years of engineering college. But after six peaceful years in Pune and rural New York, Mumbai with its frantic pace, pollution, frequent terror attacks and horrifying commute stories never appealed to me as a place to set up roots and bring up our child. Add to all that, the husband’s workplace was to be at the tip of South Mumbai where real estate is unbelievably expensive.

Our families, however, were unanimously happy. And not to get in to too many details, but thanks to their blessings and efforts, we were fortunate enough to set up home in one of the nicest areas of Mumbai, even if I say so myself. Nicest, not the most posh or most expensive, which is so much more important, don’t you think? Picture this – peaceful tree-lined streets, a huge playground, children’s park and sea promenade a stone’s throw away, bustling markets with awesome street-side shopping and eateries in the vicinity and no sign of Mumbai’s ubiquitous slums – what more could one ask for!

The suburb we live in is reputed to be the center of local politics and culture; something or the other is happening always. Mostly good – dramas, concerts, exhibitions and sporting events, sometimes not so good – mostly political demonstrations, but it does keep the atmosphere lively. Festivals are still celebrated in the traditional way. There’s just the right blend of the old and the new, history and progress, wealth and middle class values. The library I recently joined is over a hundred years old, has the most amazing collection of books and charges the princely sum of forty five rupees a month! The biggest flower market in the city, the oldest flyover, the biggest open ground, the most famous temple – you name it and it’s right here. The only thing missing is a huge mall, but the husband and I are hardly great fans of mall culture and we are eager to keep Baby M from it as long as we can, so that’s not a major dampener for us at all.

The biggest reason we chose to live here was the central location of course – the husband travels by bus and reaches office in anything from half an hour to an hour depending on traffic conditions, a blessing by Mumbai standards, believe me.  Weekends are spent exploring South Mumbai – sev puri and pani puri at Chowpatty, long walks and bike rides at Worli seaface, sunsets at Marine Drive, buggy rides at Nariman Point for Baby M, endless window shopping at Colaba causeway for his Aai. All this was a luxury the husband and I hardly knew growing up in the suburbs from where a trip to town involved tedious bus and train travel – all enthusiasm and energy getting exhausted by the time one stepped out of the train at VT station.

We have also been blessed with good neighbors here. An elderly couple next door who dote on Baby M, a sweet little girl his age in the adjoining building to play with, a dada upstairs to teach him football and cricket. The little girl’s mom and I are jogging partners already while the dads are still making plans for a game of tennis – perhaps 2012 will be the lucky year to be graced with this much awaited game!

The proximity to both sets of grandparents and other assorted aunts and uncles and cousins is simply the icing on the cake. It’s such a joy to watch your child being pampered and loved by family! Not to mention the guilty pleasures of matinees watched and candlelight dinners enjoyed while the grandparents babysit!

Living in Mumbai may not be so bad after all, I am now inclined to think. Especially now that I am home with Baby M, sheltered from the grimier aspects of our city. Let’s hope I feel this way always!

P.S. Coming up next – a house tour as soon as I manage to get some good shots. The house isn’t grand by any means, but I am proud of what I’ve managed to do in our cozy little space.

P.P.S. It would be nice if all of you would take the time to say hi just this once, so I know who is still around, reading.