snehasophy

This is for all those who seek the joy in little things !


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Story Of An Overthinker In Love

I live my life inside my head. I often want to tell you everything that goes on in it, but can’t seem to find the right words. And even if I did, I won’t possibly know where to begin!

Sometimes I wonder if you’d even understand if I told you. I wonder what you’d think of me. Would you like me more? Would you hate me for it? Would you think of me as strange? See….now I’m overthinking! This is what happens most of the time. I want to tell you one thing, and my mind spirals into something else all-together.

I get distracted very easily. I like to look at the skies while walking. I would almost ALWAYS stop to admire a little puppy or a cat on the road. I would sometimes talk to the old beggar or the kid playing on the footpath. I would look at the vendors in the market and wonder what they do once they return home at night. Oh, and it’s a different ballgame altogether when I’m by the sea.

I like to take in as much of it as I can. The smell of fish, the feel of salt on my skin, the noise of waves crashing, the sticky breeze flowing through my hair, all of it stimulates my being. I can spend hours just being there, feeling it drip in, bit by bit.

But you know what? That’s me even otherwise. I’m hardly a passive bystander in life. I’m actively processing everything that’s going on around me. It might come as a surprise to you, considering how lost I look, but inside me- I’m alive with imagination.

That’s why I like to take my time while I’m outdoors. Actually wait, not just the outdoors. I hate to rush anything. Be it eating a meal, reading a book, talking to you or simply strolling in the park by myself. I like to take things slow. Relishing each and every moment. It’s as though my mind is constantly imprinting each and every detail, trying to make sense out of it all. Continuously weaving a story.

Amidst all this, I’m contemplating life. Sometimes death. In the middle of the night I have dark thoughts of losing people I love in some freak accident. It gets my heart thumping, I wake up all sweaty, trying to catch my breath. Other times, I imagine what would happen if I died. Would it matter to people at all? Would it make you cry for days? I wonder if I have had any impact on the lives of people I’ve met in my lifetime. I wonder if they remember me fondly. Are any of them thinking about me right now? Do they recollect their time spent with me with a smile on their faces? Do I have any haters? I bet I do. All those arguments on Facebook and Whatsapp groups ought to have made me some enemies.

Well I can’t really help it. I have opinions and I feel strongly about them. It’s either yes or a no, there’s no “maybe” in my dictionary. I can be completely detached and not even blink about things or people I don’t care about. I can be distant and cold hearted. I can be cruelly unemotional at times. But mostly I’m brimming with emotions. I’m raging with anger every morning when I read of corrupt politicians, I’m filled with empathy when I find old people shivering in the cold- begging for a meal, I’m amazed to see the stars shine bright through the polluted skies on a tiring monday evening, my eyes tear up when I listen to a song that I like, my heart skips a beat when I think of you.

Talking of you; I think of you every other minute. At times I feel so happy that you exist that I start sobbing. I imagine ways in which I can show you how much I love you. I want to call you right at that moment and tell you that you’re the best thing that’s happened to me. But I know I would be dumbstruck. That’s why I write to you. It helps me align my emotions with my mind. I often picture you smiling at me, or looking at your phone with your eyebrows furrowed as you read a mail from work. Sometimes I picture you gobbling down food or staring into space as your cigarette burns itself out. Other times I imagine you gently caressing my hair as we kiss. I imagine your warm body curled up against mine. I wonder what goes on in your mind when you look at me? I wish I could get inside your head and understand what is it that you love about me. What is it that you hate. What is it that you wish you could change about me. I wonder if you look at me and think about the same things. But sometimes I have this gripping fear of losing all this happiness somehow. What if I disappointed you? What if something terrible happens to you, or me? What if you contract amnesia and forget that I ever existed! Oh God, so many things that could go wrong! Do you know what do I do when that happens? I pray.

Surprised? Well, it’s because now I have so much at hand that I might lose! I pray that I always find my way to you, and you to me. I pray that we rise above our differences and remember what we love about each other when times get tough. I pray that we strive to understand each other. I pray that you’re always happy. I pray that you’re always surrounded by family and loved ones who genuinely care about you. But mostly, I ask the universe/God to help us grow with each other every day. I have only you to thank for all this praying and talking to the universe!

You’d say I worry too much. I’d say, yes, “I worry, I worry”, but that’s just how I am! But it’s not all that bad always. It’s just that my mind just works overtime. Imagining the infinite possibilities of life. Perpetually finding my space in each moment. Finding my purpose in the universal story. Collecting moments & memories from my everyday life in my head. And as an over-thinker I pride myself for it. For if not an over-thinker, I can’t possibly imagine what else I’d be. Or, can I?

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What’s Freedom To You?

I N D E P E N D E N C E

Liberty & Freedom were the words that came up when I looked for synonyms of ‘Independence’. I think it’s safe to say that an Independent country is also a ‘Free’ one. But considering a country as diverse as India, where people worship Rajnikanth in temples, cricket is a religion in itself and over a thousand dialects of hundreds of languages are spoken: ‘Freedom’ can be subjective.

To my mom, women being able to choose their own husbands nowadays is Freedom. To my grandfather, easy access to education and free information is Freedom. On the other hand, it’s us. The millenials. We were born into an Independent India. We didn’t have to struggle for our basic rights like our elders did, and somewhere along the line we began taking these rights for granted. Nowadays, the trend is to rant about how restricted India is, ON Independence day. As a friend of mine put it, “It’s like complaining to your parents on your birthday!”

The spirit of Independence day is to remember the sacrifices made by our ancestors for our generation to live in a free India. We need to show gratitude for the fights, revolutions and bloodshed that went behind the liberties that we inherited by birth. The Freedom, we think we are entitled to.

Well, are we grateful? I don’t know about you, I sure am. But…. Yes, there’s a but.

…But does that mean, we shouldn’t strive for more? 70 years post Independence, we should have definitely crossed some mile-stones. We should have had a constitution that progressed with time and accommodated the changing needs of its people. But sadly, we are stuck somewhere in the past, with laws that still don’t consider marital rape a crime and consider same-sex marriages one!

Instead of progressing we have regressed on many fronts, putting our forefathers’ fight for freedom to shame. Today, we censor public opinion according to the ruling leaders (sacking pahlaj nihalani), we ban things as and when we please (Beef, ripped jeans or sleeveless clothes in colleges), we lynch people who might follow a certain way of life or belong to certain minorities (Gowrakshaks), we collectively pass judgments as we see fit (arushi murder case, salman khan runover case), we don’t value human life (’82 Sino-Indian war: Deoliwallahs), we monetize on religious sentiments, we categorize emotions as right or wrong and punish people who work against these set categories, we repress dreams and kill aspirations when they aren’t in tandem with the norms. This is what we’ve become merely 70 years after we won “FREEDOM”.

Should we be thankful for the rights and liberties we inherited? Yes.

Are we entitled for more rights and liberties? Also Yes.

Speaking of Freedom, here’s what my friends thought we need freedom from:

  • Freedom from Chauvinism
  • Freedom from an unhealthy lifestyle
  • Freedom from feeling unsafe
  • Freedom to eat beef
  • Freedom from Patriarchy
  • Freedom from moral policing
  • Freedom from gender bias
  • Freedom from Intolerance
  • Freedom from the past mistakes
  • Freedom from State capitalism
  • Freedom from too much freedom
  • Freedom from weak and incompetent administration and management by our leaders
  • Freedom from wanna be activist who don’t fully have the grasp of the case they are fighting for.
  • Freedom from your own insecurities
  • Freedom from financial debts
  • Freedom from racism and regionalism
  • Freedom from curfew at home
  • Freedom from my husband’s tantrums (Not sure if this applies to everyone!)

In other words, it’s time for an UPGRADE. An upgrade in ideals, norms and laws. An upgrade in the way we function as a society. An upgrade to become a better people. The one that our forefathers aspired for.

You could either accept the reality of today as your fate, or raise your voice and ask for what you feel is Freedom. You could comfortably sing “Saare Jahaan Se Accha Hindustaan Humaara” today, without meaning a single word of it; Or, you could free yourselves and India from the prejudices, injustice, corruption and hypocrisies.

The question remains, “What’s freedom to you?”, and more importantly, will you work for it like your forefathers did?

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I’m Not Asking For Much.

Some days I wish, I could just be,
Plain and simple happy,
Is it really too much to ask ?

To feel the love and not the scars,
To lie with you and count the stars!
Is it really too much to ask?

To scratch and scream and giggle and cry,
Free of all those hypocrites,
Who do nothing but pry,
Is it really too much to ask !

Oh I’m tired of pretending,
This mask is too much to bear !
I want to laze around, just for a day,
Do nothing and be at peace;
And try ….just try, not to care!
Is this really too much to ask?

I know, I can be happy alone,
Though you insist it can’t be true.
But today I don’t want to tag along,
I want to be far! Faraway from you!
I wanna dream and write a senseless song,
I wanna hope that through this mess, confusion, tears, expectations, pressures;
I emerge tough and strong.
But I wanna do this on my own ..just let me .. won’t you?
Is this really too much to ask ?

I know that I can find my way,
Inspite of what anyone might have to say,
You impose your thoughts on me ,
You trample on me and prance around;
But not today ..not today!
I know…I know you care for me
But for once I “need” you to let me be,
Is it really too much to ask ?

I believe that I have made myself clear,
Today I’m not gonna ask twice,
I know what I have to do,
I’m just gonna be myself,
No matter what the price!


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How It Felt To Be Bride’s Maid To A Blind Girl

Calm and unfazed, Premala sits smiling even as others frantically move about running last minute errands. Premala is getting married today! She says that in her 23 years of life, this is her happiest day.

She pouts & holds, as I line her lips with the deep red shade of lipstick that her guardian selected. Why her guardian you ask? Well, ever since Premala lost her sight when she was 10, her parents kept her at a distance. Too poor to look after a blind child who was also happened to be a girl, her parents dropped her at a school for the visually challenged children & never really intended to look back & take her home again.

I look at her dimpled smile as she chatters with the guests. The way she blushes when someone mentions the name of the groom. And emotions flood my brain.  I’m at loss of words as to how someone who is missing such an important aspect of life is so positive. I am at awe of her nonchalant grace.

She suddenly bursts into a song in Marathi & sings a couple of verses in her beautiful voice. Her voice so confident & clear, stuns everyone in the room.  Her voice managed to silence an entire room of cackling relatives and friends, at a wedding house! And then, she abruptly stops and asks me if her lipstick has smudged because of the singing. The women giggle as they hear her naive questions & tell her not to worry too much about the lipstick, to which she stubbornly replies that she wants another coat of lipstick! “It’s my wedding and I want to look the prettiest in the room.”, she says pouting again.

For some reason Premala had taken an instant liking to me ever since I first met her. Even at her wedding I was her maid-of-honor of sorts.

As I head towards her she asks me what I’m wearing. After all, she wouldn’t want her “didi” (sister) to look under-dressed at her wedding. I tell her I’m wearing a floral dress. I see her face light up! She asks to me come closer so she can feel the dress with her hands to know what a dress feels like, “I’ve never worn one didi, come closer, I want to SEE how your dress looks.” She runs her fingers through the creases of my dress and then looks at me with a smile and says something I will never be able to forget, “You look Beautiful didi.”

That one statement had tears flowing down my cheeks. I told her that she looks beautiful and all the guests were in love with her saree and her radiant smile returned!

This was followed by the wedding ceremony that was held in a church. I bore the bride’s trail. I was by her side until she was finally united with her husband, Sharad Patil who is a visually challenged person himself.

It was so beautiful to see how these two souls found each other. Their blinded vision didn’t stop them from finding love. Just because Premala didn’t see colours didn’t stop her from dreaming of rainbows and chasing behind them. At 23 she has a college degree in biblical studies and aims at reaching out to young girls like her.

If this isn’t inspiring I don’t know what is!

Many of us complain about things that don’t even matter. We are never satisfied and crib about everything that comes our way. Inspite of having the best education, best parents & friends to love us we point out to that one thing that we might NOT have. That one dress that you can’t afford or maybe that bike that your dad refused to buy.

One failed relationship and we give up on life, one test gone bad and we are ready to jump off the 17th floor of a building.

Sometimes all we need to do is look around us and absorb the strength and determination to keep going. Hey, no one said it’s going to be an easy ride. Take Premala for instance, she’s got it the worst way possible. An abandoned blind girl child, who had to fend for herself. But instead of letting all of this hurt and disappointment take a hold over her, she decided to give life a second chance, then a third & a fourth! Until she finally found what she was looking for. Purpose in life & someone to love. And that’s amazing!

Hopefully someday there will be more of Premalas in this world that gives up so easily. A world that fails to see the beauty in the little things. A world that has forgotten to be grateful.

Hopefully, Someday.


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Dreamcatchers 

They say dream catchers keep away the bad dreams.

The nightmares that don’t let you sleep. Leave you twisting in fright.

But what about the nightmares you live everyday.

No, not the ones that lurk in the darkness, hidden below your pillows.

The ones that stare at you in the eye in broad daylight.

Like the time you were called a randi for wearing shorts on the streets.

When unknown fingers traced their way along your thighs.

When they tried to pry them open by force.

Or how about the time, when you were denied that promotion because you had a vagina.

How they squeezed every last bit of life out of you, but stole your reward.

How they snatched your dreams and trampled on it.

Or wait.

How about the time your uncle PLAYED with you, when you were too young to understand?

And the shame, the guilt and the anger that followed, all the years after!

That once when you were marked unclean, because obviously God didn’t like bleeding women.

All the times you were taken for granted. Your voice shut out.

The days when your boyfriend thought it’s okay to vent out on you. Just, leave a mark or two. After all, you could just cover it with a little foundation here and concealer there.

Or that time, when your husband raped you and everyone you told thought it’s OK.

What about these nightmares?

What about the false promises and hurtful words?

What about the scars that they left on your skin, reminding you of your helplessness?

Will the dream catcher take them away too?

Will it?


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Ahmedabad Diaries: What Happens In Ahmedabad Will Make You Fall In Love With It!

The reactions when I told people I’m travelling to Ahmedabad for the weekend was, “What! Why? There’s nothing there to see! You will be bored. Oh, you will regret your decision!”

But I had made up my mind and I wanted to visit this Gujju city once and for all. As soon as I typed “Things to do on in Ahmedabad”, google gave me a fairly long list of places I could visit, to my relief!

Armed with this list of Things to Do in Ahmedabad, I set out to this seemingly somber city!

And guess what? I fell in love! This slow paced city has a charm of it’s own & I would definitely recommend everyone to pay it a visit.

And if you do decide to go to Ahmedabad or AMDAVAD as the locals call it, here are a few things you should definitely do!

Visit To The Bhadra Kaali Temple

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Ahmedabad is a known for it centuries old temples that are strewn all over the city. I chose the Bhadra, Kali Temple because it’s at the heart of the main city and is well connected to all the other major tourist attractions.

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Make sure you visit this place early in the morning around 8, when the pooja (worship) is conducted, I promise it would be the perfect headstart to your day.

Lal Darwaza (The Red Gate)

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The Lal Darwaza leads to the home of the then ruler, Ahmed Shah. The area around the gate has long since been converted into the local market.

IMG_1551Flower market near the gate

It’s always buzzing with people and it’s utterly chaotic, messy & insane and awesome at the same time! You can find souvenirs, food, clothes and all kinds of little take-aways for a steal here. It’s best to visit the place in the evening when the market is liveliest.

Bhadra Fort

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Fun fact, the Bhadra Fort was built by a Muslim ruler but has a temple at it’s base dedicated to goddess Kaali! You will find many such instances in Ahmedabad where temples and mosques share the same ground, which is so fascinating.

IMG_1565Chambers at the top of Bhadra Fort

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This fort has now been turned into a Municipal court so most entrances to rooms are sealed, but you can still find many hidden stairways, rooms giving you glimpses into it’s grand past.

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Sidi Sayed Mosque

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The locals recommended us to visit this mosque, which was at a walking distance from Bhadra Fort. Known for it’s beautifully carved grills at the back of the mosque it was definitely worth the visit.

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The maulana (religious leader and caretaker of the mosque) was kind enough to tell us about the history of the mosque and the architecture. Oh and we got a scolded for entering the gates with our shoes on, so be careful to take them off before you enter the premises!

 Jama Masjid (Jama Mosque, also called Juma by the localites)

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Believe it or not, I think this is one of the most beautiful structures I’ve ever seen in my life. From the moment you step into the huge courtyard surrounding the mosque there’s an air of breathtaking beauty within every square inch.

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Also built in the 1400’s it was apparently the largest mosque in the Indian Subcontinent at that time.

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You will see people meditating and reveling in spiritual studies around you and inspite of Ahmedabad’s merciless heat you will suddenly feel at peace.

Gandhi Ashram

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Sabarmati Ashram or, Gandhi Ashram as it’s commonly known, is the home of Gandhiji. The entire home along with the area surrounding his home has been turned into an exhibition now. I know some of you might think, EXHIBITION, Really? That’s what I thought too, but once we were there, we didn’t regret our decision one bit! It’s located on the banks of the Sabarmati river, that has now turned into a tourist spot in itself (It’s called the River Front now)

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It’s the perfect place to chill on a insanely hot afternoon.

IMG_1732Getting our yummy chana jor garam made!

Once you’ve had a tour of the entire exhibition centre, you can grab a snack (we had peanuts & chana jor garam* a local dish) and sat dazed under the shade of trees right along the River Front. So blissful!

Law Garden

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Okay so the garden in itself is pretty amazing but the lanes next to the garden is the real deal. That’s where you will find some pretty awesome stuff at throwaway prices!

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And then once the shopping has tired you out, you can find yourself a nice spot inside law garden and take a short power nap!

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Like so many others do there! (I know sounds kinda weird, but when you’ve been touristing around town and need a break, you will need this! )

Kankaria Lake (pronounced KaaKaRia)

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If you visit Ahmedabad, Kankaria lake is a must visit. Everywhere we went, the first place everyone suggested was Kaakaria! And oh boy, does this place stand up to it’s expectations!

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So it’s this huge ass lake that also doubles up as an amusement park, complete with rides, a choo-choo train running through the park and food stalls every where (literally everywhere!)

IMG_1802Bird Watching At Kankaria

Try and visit this place in the evening during sunsets, coz that’s when the fun begins! Since the park is full of trees, it’s a home to a specific variety of sparrows.  Towards sunset these birds, literally thousands of them come together, returning to their nests, putting on a absolutely breathtaking sight!

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Apart from that there are water lazer  shows regularly organized which is a pretty awesome sight too! So in short, there’s a lot to do at Kankaria.

Food In Ahmedabad

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There is food everywhere! I am not even exaggerating. While it is a vegetarian’s paradise, non-vegetarians need not worry, Amdavad has something for all. While I was there I tried and ate local food, to get a hold of the cuisine there.

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A lot of chaat, dhokla, pani puri, faafda jalebi, chole kulche can be found across the city.

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If you’re looking for some good non-vegetarian food head straight to Lal Darwaza.

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In the evening you can enjoy some sizzling hot kebabs, keema, sea food & more!

IMG_1816 A Local Chicken Pastry
IMG_1819Crispy Fried Chicken
IMG_1824Prawn Curry With Roti

What was surprising was that Ahmedbad isn’t that big on deserts and sweets! We didn’t find much of it on the streets so we had to make do with the conventional generic  jalebis & ice-creams.

Shopping at Ahmedabad

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Take my word when I say this, shopping is dirt cheap here. I got back a few souvenirs, clothes, handmade bed covers & a lot more for around 2 K.

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The most famous spots for shopping are Law garden for traditional clothes, Manek Chowk for food, Lal Darwaza for antiques and souvenirs. If you are a fan of organic and khadi products you can shop from the shops around Gandhi Ashram, To go that eco-friendly way.

Travelling in Ahmedabad

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Both Ola and the local rickshaws  are super cheap and affordable. At no point did we have to pay more than 150 bucks to either of them (they have an instate app for rickshaws called Jugnu. Very handly to book rickshaw rides). And the bus services are also not too bad, so you can take your pick.

Stay In Ahmedabad

IMG_1512 View from hotel lobby

We were looking for a home-stay while booking but couldn’t get through because the ones under our budget were already reserved. So we booked a room through the OYO app and stayed at a motel. It was fairly comfortable and also close to the city, no complains, nothing great.

Just a few other things

Amdavadis Are Super Duper Sweet People

You will never feel alone in Ahmedabad. All it takes is a Hi or a Hello to get people talking, and you will feel right at home. If you’re lost or need any kind of help just ask around. 3 days in that city, and I’ve definitely made more friends than I have in Mumbai! ?(No Kidding!)

There’s Art Everywhere

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Literally every street you look, you will find beautiful murals and artwork etched aimlessly.

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Such pretty sights! Definitely makes for those insta-worthy clicks!

There will be a lot of cows And Other Animals

I don’t know why, but you will find cows randomly strolling the roads. No need to freak out, in a day you will just get used to the sight of them.

You will spot a lot of clock towers & Darwazas

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Again, not like Amdavadis are too time bound, infact they follow a pace of their own. But you will tons of watch towers across the city. Ans as for the Darwazas, since Ahmedabad was home to a lot of rulers it has many guard doors or “darwazas”. Do stop when you spot one, they all have a unique story to them.

ALL IN ALL

If I could, I would just go on and on about how awesome this city is. Just like every other city in India, it is crazy in it’s own way and beautiful at the same time.

And if you are looking for a getaway and explore a new city, Ahmedabad is definitely recommended!

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Mumbai

You will find me in a million beating hearts.

In the clutter of the Dadar market,

In the chai -sutta of the rebellious city teen.

In the waves that sweep through the shores of Marine drive.

In the misty coffee houses of Matunga,

In the dingy slums of Dharavi,

In the chic bungalows of Juhu tara.

In the alluring charms of Kamathipura,

In the abusive banter of the fish mongers.

In the first rains that soak the children,

In the humid summers that drench everyone in sweat.

The groovy nights at blue frog,

The blissful prayers at Siddhivinayak.

In the buzzing streets of bandra,

Or the country-side bliss of vasai.

In every heaving-breath of a Virar local,

In the saddened silences of Tata hospital.

In the legendary evenings of Prithvi theatre,

In the infinite aimless games of cricket at the oval maidan.

In the cheers for the Mumbai Indians,

In the masked smiles of the LGBT pride parade.

From the nalli nihari and the salli boti

To the masala dosa and vada pav.

From the pillars of gateway,

To the roads of palm beach .

I’m a heaven for dreamers.

I’m the love child of chaos and tranquility.

I’m the unbreakable spirit.

I’m the euphoric emotion.

I am you .I am me.

I am Mumbai.