The first time I visited Mumbai I was six years old and visiting my Greatgrand Mother for the first time. I have wonderful memories of that visit as I was pampered by all the Uncles and Aunts around, being the only little kid there. I was introduced to the Parsi Dairy Kulfi, Mangola, and Double Decker Buses. All of which were fabulous experiences for this little kid usually stuck in small cities on the border.
On every subsequent visit over the years I saw a bit more of the city and loved it even more. When I was around eleven we used to go to Mumbai to welcome my father home from abroad. Ma and I would usually stay with her college friend and her kids and I would enjoy the summer holidays together. I remember getting up nice and early just to go to the beach when it was still cool. Then after walking to the beach, playing over there and coming back we would all be bathed and fed and sent back to bed. All in the middle of the morning.
The days that the two friends decided to go shopping together, we would be given some money to fend for lunch for ourselves. I distinctly remember eating around three ice creams for lunch once. And visiting the Hare Rama Hare Krishna ISKON temple canteen to eat a Thali once. Then of course there was all the wonderful shopping that could be done. All the latest trends and the movies that could be seen.
At age thirteen I remember going with a group of boys, all kids of my mother's school and college friends, to see Jurassic Park. I was the only girl in the group and was always pampered. They would get the seats for me in the local train, or bus that we were taking. I was always made to walk in the middle of the group. It was the feeling of pure safety.
At nineteen I was proposed to for the first time in Mumbai. I will never forget that night, even though I said no. It was one of the most romantic gestures that friend of mine ever made.
The college festival that we had gone to attend as a group was Malhar. It was an experience to be running around choupati with fifteen other friends till mid night eating bhel and then crossing the road en mass to eat ice cream at New Yorkers. I remember not getting the waffle cone that I so specifically asked for.
And in all these memories never once do I remember being afraid. Never once did I feel unsafe even at three in the morning taking a cab back from Madness after a great round of dancing.
Things are just not the same. Have you ever stopped to think what happened in Mumbai could happen anywhere? Any place that you have cherished, have had fun with friends could overnight turn into a living hell. All it needs its a few people seeped in their fanatical madness to create more madness all around.
I wish it were not so, but my child is growing up in a world where I am not sure he will live a full long life, because I don't know where the bombs will go off next.