When a writer travels, places, stories and imaginations come to life. But, this writer was born in a city which was breathing life. It came into existence from nothing to becoming the city of dreams. I have explored locations far different from Mumbai, to the ones which influenced it too. From Europe’s Parisian Streets to the Bavarian Alps, all was exceptionally beautiful, but there was only one home. From a young age, I always wondered why must I be only born in India and in Mumbai, I could be anywhere. And let me tell you I did find my answer but it came after a lot of learning.
While I was studying tourism at Mumbai University, the influences of international travel were always felt strongly. While I seemed to have developed a liking towards offbeat travel and niches. Whenever I met people from around the globe, I was always set back by the kind of stereotypes of Mumbai people believe in. Right from wanting to witness ‘poor India’ to the fascination people have from Slumdog Millionaire. The Mumbai I know is far different. So, when the students of the University of Belgium came to join us, I showed them the Mumbai I knew. Right from the Art Deco Mumbai to the multi-cultured food to Art Districts to the Island of Pagoda to the National Park. Ever since I met countless tourists and reintroduced them to the city as the city of stories.
This journey from a local to a storyteller happened while I went from student to a travel writer and eventually someone trying to build a small business of redefining tourism. While I do that, realising how Mumbai is a breathing living city, fuels the stories. I have felt the magic walking on the Parisian streets of Europe, buzzing café culture in Brussels.
Yet when you stand on a breezy evening when the sun sets down and you watch the Queen’s Necklace lit up, with the waves in the background, I like to believe if Eiffel Tower would see it, it would blush. When you witness Udipi restaurant, a Parsi cafe and a street sandwich guy cherishing their customers all on the same street, you feel the philosophy of Mumbai come to life. That’s when I saw it. I had to step out in the world to fall in love with my city, to realise why I was born here. Mumbai is where philosophies, dreams, ironies and metaphors come alive in the most dramatic way. Where else would a writer rather be born?
As a kid, paper collage was my favourite craft activity. Creating one masterpiece with different coloured paper pieces. The kind that may not belong to the same palette, yet when they all come together, they bring to life much more vibrant art. That’s exactly what this city of Mumbai is. And, the travel writer in me is on a mission to break the stereotypes of Mumbai and redefine it for its locals and travellers. A whole new world of opportunities opens up when you start a change from home. As if the home fuels your spirits and what can be a better fuel than Mumbai?