For someone who is not born here, Mumbai may seem to be a bit chaotic at the start. Everyone seems to be running somewhere and no one has the time to relax for a while. It feels as if time has a different meaning here and a different pace than the rest of the world. You hate this city in the beginning and try to find every reason you can to leave this place. Even a minor flaw becomes your weapon of arguments such as crowded local trains, heavy monsoon, never-ending traffic, sky-high rent and the list goes on. Slowly, you start adjusting to these flaws giving this city another chance to win you over. The feeling of being independent is adamant to let you lose to these of reasons which seem petty in the scheme of your plans at that moment.
With the passage of time, you start falling in love with the city and the so-called ‘flaws’ become your strength. You wear them like a badge of honor showcasing your survival in this city even though you maintain a humble attitude from outside. You go to clubs for late night parties and your Friday plans are always set in advance. You dance to the tune of music you have never heard of before and lyrics which otherwise never made any sense to you. Your taste in food elevates to a level where you almost become a food critic after trying numerous places be it fancy restaurants or roadside eateries.
This city doesn’t sleep and neither do you. Your late night adventures become the talk of town next morning between your office colleagues. This sort of recognition is new to you and you don't realize what is happening. You tend to discover a new side of you which never existed earlier. This new discovery adds to your list of how amazing this city is.
Living for so long here, you get wings to take a flight to catch a hobby you always wanted. Mastering an instrument gives you a new meaning to your life. The strings don't hurt you anymore as you relentlessly try to make a symphony at your very first attempt.
This city gives you joys you never thought would exist. Surely, it asks for a little price in form of daily hustle and grind but in return, you get to live a life full of hues and experience. A life you wouldn't short sell so easily and foolishly. Life goes on like this and it seems to be an endless adventure, or at least you wish it to be. You seem to have put together all the pieces of your puzzle you were trying ever since you came here. The hustle is no more painful and the bittersweet taste of the bruises you got on your way to here doesn't bother you anymore. In fact, they are the stories you would tell people in years to come about how you conquered this city.
But, you cannot keep your anima buried for long, can you? It scratches the outer shell from inside time and again to break free and every time you suppress it with your alter ego - The same person you created to deal with this city when the initial blows were too deep for you to handle. Remember the person who came to this place but suddenly decided to leave? Yes, I'm talking about that person. The one you kept in the closet and forgot to let it out again.
The same person is dying to come out and would do anything to break free. You know you don't stand a chance and you do not want to fight it. On the contrary, you ponder as to how could you forget about him so easily. You trace your steps back to find out when did you lose touch with your inner self and more importantly how. Your alter ego was supposed to keep you going in this city but it was nowhere meant to be your identity.
It then strikes you like a bolt of lightning. You are aghast at what you discovered and confused trying to figure out as to how it happened to you. You see, the city you were falling in love with and kept falling for, weekend after weekend, with every nightclub you visited, every restaurant you tried, and with all those hobbies you tried to catch, you never realised when your love turned into an addiction and you slowly gave into her demands and traps.
You were no longer in love with this place. Hell! you were never in love with this place. It was a mere attraction, and you became addicted to it like you do to a drug and you still are addicted to every bit of it. Every flaw of Mumbai which you hated once runs in your blood like a holy wine. You no longer are the master of your own self, but a puppet of this feeling called Mumbai.
You came to Mumbai with a set of dreams but, lost them somewhere in your daily grind to make a living here. And, when you started your search again, you found them broken. But, they were beyond repair. Still, you cling to them with all your strength, never to let them go. For they are the only hope you need now to carry you through this addiction, and you wait patiently as they take you to your happy place where you can wildly run like the child you were at home, and win back your innocence someday.