Bombay, until the 15th century, belonged to the Portuguese after which it was gifted in dowry to Prince Edward of England on his marriage to Catherine Braganza. Soon after, began the process of colonization and we all know what happened after that.
The city Mumbai, as I see it today, is the NYC of India. It is the city of dreams, aspirations, pursuit and success. You can pursue whatever dreams you have, even the ones people elsewhere might find crazy. In the words of Nikita Wadhwa, a young 25 year old girl from New Delhi who is pursuing her Master’s Degree from the city, “The city gives you the freedom to be who you are, and whoever you want to be.”
Mumbai is also a city of innovation and innovators. All the business ideas that take off across the country usually begin here. As a result of this, one gets to meet a lot of creative people who are pursuing the most unique careers. I met this one person one time who plays the Australian wind instrument, called digeridoo, and since it isn’t available in India at many places, he just makes it out of PVC pipes. Being the cosmopolitan that Bombay is, it doesn’t fail to give me those little surprises, in the form of culture shocks, from time to time, which helps me unlearn some of my own myths and stereotypes that I’ve been socialized to believe as ‘norms’.
Plus, the city is super safe. I can step out of my house for a de-stressing walk at the oddest hour and still feel unthreatened, and that’s exactly the kind of space that will help my mind think freely and perform at its best. In fact, chances are that I might make some new friends, including women, along the way. Healthy flirting is okay, and it is not always understood as an invitation.
I can choose to wrap whatever I feel most comfortable wearing around my body, and not have that feeling of guilt of defiance of the society. There is no need to align myself with any particular code of conduct, as there are so many of these codes that people have just stopped caring about associating one’s identity with religious or cultural practices.
Access to technology is something that I always had, but this city and the lifestyle of its people taught me what all I could do with the access that I have been given. My recent observation has been that most of the hashtags that go trending online, happen right here, in this city. Not only that, Bombay is all about everything that trends, from fashion to furniture to foods and everything else. It is the city of BOLLYWOOD, after all!!
It is also a city for lovers of art and music, since some of the finest galleries, both private and government run, are right here. And even are some of the nation’s finest art institutes.
In short, there is so much of everything happening almost everywhere, that I was definitely bound to find myself and break free from those shackles that society put around me under the mask of defining ‘the good woman’.