Don’t get me wrong, when I got here, the city of Mumbai is one that consumes you entirely. You don’t need anyone to enjoy this city; with my new job, new colleagues, weekend trips back home, I pretty much forgot that I had an agenda. That I was still, a 25 year old, single, romantic at heart, writer by soul, explorer by nature, and most definitely, a social night owl.
I was in Mumbai, with a job that I feel is finally up my alley, taking a giant leap towards my eventual dream. But still, during trips back home, my friends would ask me about my life outside the walls of my desk at work, and my home (if you catch a glimpse of the view from my balcony here, you would understand why I didn’t get out much.) – I had no answers.
The simple reason was, that Mumbaikars, as they love to call themselves, are divided into ‘The Townies’ and ‘The Suburbian-ites’ and unfortunately, the locals of the two rarely traverse to meet on The Other Side. And even more unfortunate, is that all my school friends stay on The Other Side.
Now, a minute to justify what I’m about to dive into next – My first 2-3 months I was very happy to do all the travelling, with Ubers available at your beck and call, friends willing to drop me (well “halfway” or sometimes if I was lucky, even meet me halfway) – it wasn’t difficult at all. But slowly and surely, the woos of The Other Side began to grow on me too. Late nights in the office and a call from an old friend would instead of a chirpy me, bring out a whining, and irritated me… The me that would then start to tell them off for not coming to Town to see me. Soon, my friends quickly realised that I was slowly turning into a true Mumbaikar, who only drifted out of her “side” on weekends, and in non-traffic hours of course.
No prices for guessing, my plans soon came to a standstill. Not only did I become a true local and strongly stayed in my area, but I also now refused to go to The Other Side unless it was absolutely certain that no other plans could follow through.
My life in Town was soon reduced to joining a Spinning class at a gym (a couple of blocks away), taking walks along Marine Drive, discovering new books and music, getting my blog up and running successfully – don’t get me wrong, my life was definitely going in the direction that I had always dreamed. Earlier nights in bed with Kafka or Murakami’s brilliance, 7.30am Yoga sessions where I was taught the correct way to breath, mediate, channel my thoughts, healthy and timely meals, work going better than I wished for, my colleagues at work slowly turning into what I hope will be a life-long friendship – my life was heading in the right direction. I was finally testing the “Love Yourself” theory and it was working brilliantly.
You’re wondering where the hiccup came in right? I mean, if there’s one thing you know from my story, there’s always a hiccup (Sadly, he isn’t cute and bug-eyed like the animated one).
So there I was, living my life on my own terms, enjoying what eventually would have turned out to be a giant step towards a fulfilling life (and maybe even a bestseller in the making), but all it took was a trip back home.
It went a little something like this.
“So, how’s Bombay treating you?” She asked me. We were halfway through our dinner, a terribly delicious wood-fire pizza with the right amount of cheese, basil leaves and sauce. A side of beer battered onion rings, one of our major weaknesses, and some fabulous coffee.
“Brilliant.” I answered, in between bites of those scrumptious onion rings.
“You’re smiling, with your eyes. And you’ve lost weight, which suits you brilliantly too.” I couldn’t help but blush. She always had a way with words; and me.
“I guess I finally let my hair down, enjoy the weather, the city, and well, my own company.” This seemed to be an answer that I was searching for. I was rather satisfied and content with myself. My aura was warm, comforting, and I was happy to be exactly where I was.
“So my butterfly is finally happy then?” She asked me, in between mouthfuls of her slice of pizza.
My lips parted, the answer resting on my lips, but hesitating to come out. Why was I hesitating.
“Yes?” She sensed tension in my wings.
My lips were open, but there was nothing coming out. My appetite suddenly gone…
“You know you’ve always believed in butterfly pairs, yet you’re living your life in the best way possible. So my love, you are happy right?”
Flashes of the past three months came to me as I sat there, in our favourite restaurant. Everything I was doing, everywhere I was going, all the new places I visiting – it was me, myself and I. I was loving myself, and it was great – but I also loved the idea of meeting new people, dancing nights, and such. And that side of me was pushed into a corner.
I decided it was time to start a new chapter. It was time to meet new people, make some friends and ‘paint the city red’. The big question here was, HOW.
I obviously got all my friends in the wrong side of the world in Mumbai, and I couldn’t reach out far enough no thanks to my work timings.
And so, I decided to let technology play a ‘helping hand’.
Safe to say, I was nervous, yet excited enough at the same time. I was waiting to see where this adventure would lead me, and it was one Monday evening, when I came across a rather interesting profile. I took a deep breath, an odd smile on my face, butterflies in my stomach, and swiped right.
He has the kindest eyes, the oddest smile, a way with words that no one can compare to. He has a way with me actually, from the evening we met, the way he made me laugh, the way he made me dance… More so, the way he made me talk. He reminded me of a lot of things about myself that I had forgotten. He’s slowly becoming someone I’ve grown to trust, and like to call in the middle of the day to whine about work, or some oddball colleague I wanted to punch. Or I would send him snapchats and he would tell me to stop pouting. It’s strange, there’s absolutely nothing about us that’s the same. We have no common interests, he thinks that hiding inside of me is a crazy ghaat that loves trashy Bollywood songs and too much romance. He on the other hand, is married to his job.
Deep down, behind that suit and tie, there’s a man who sings to me at night to keep me company. There’s a man who leaves an hour early to come see me, if only for ten minutes. There’s a man who smiles when I tell him I’ll see him, if only for a cup of takeaway coffee. There’s a man who drives fast, because he knows my instinct reaction is to grab on to his hand and tell him to stop (Yes, I’ve seen you smirking.) There’s a man who calls me a baby when I whine about life, but then sends me a picture of him with cat ears, just to make sure that I’m smiling.
To be honest, I’m awake and writing this tonight because I believe it’s extremely essential for people, for men and women, to understand that in this world where things don’t work out… You need a fairytale. You need a fairytale; I’ve always searched for a perfect happy ending, never thought much about the montage that leads up to it.
And this is something that my ‘Swipe Right’ taught me in the strangest way possible. It’s not always about the happy ending, it’s about the beautiful, and memorable montage.
This, is why I swiped right in the first place.