Mumbai as we know has a huge influx of population from the smaller Indian towns and villages too, who come to the city in search of a better life. Its not everyday that someone goes up to them and speaks to understand their psyche but when the opportunity presents, these guys are efficient enough to hold on to the attention that they are receiving presently. I chatted up with one such Mr. A Balsubramanium, a street food vendor on Marine Lines promenade last evening.
Bala hails from a very small town in Tamil Nadu (can't recollect the name) and has been a regular to Mumbai for the past 32 years. Why I say regular 'cause Bala has a peculiar work philosophy. He detests permanent jobs and his work locations are decided by the Indian monsoons or the lack of it! So when there are rains in Mumbai, he heads to Chennai and when the rains are in Chennai, he is in Mumbai. Or when Mumbai is burning in the summer, he is in Kashmir carrying out his trade. He just doesn't wanna settle down in one place!
Bala, fondly called as Anna (elder brother in Tamil), goes on to explain the two simple things that make Mumbai tick, according to him. He says just soak up everything thats happening around you and when you are asked to testify, hold on to your ear lobes (the Indian way of gesticulating that you are sorry) and say you saw nothing! The other he says is the Marathi phrase "Aamchi Mumbai" which till yesterday I thought meant "My/Our Mumbai". Anna tells me it actually means "Maa Chudaye Mumbai"! Quite shocking coming from someone who has made Mumbai his second home for so long. But I guess thats how he has been able to survive in this big bad city.
As for me, only time will tell which of the two meanings will apply to my life!