NEW YORK'S NEW YORK,
BUT MUMBAI'S UNFORGETTABLE!
AFTERNOOON DESPATCH & COURIER, 20/11/01
by Meera Gandhi
Hello Mumbai! It feels so good to be back... if even for
a week. I've been feeling amazed ever since I slipped
off the plane and got my first smell of the city at the
airport. I was received at the airport, whisked through
customs and immigration, somebody was there to
help with the bags ... if only it was like this in the rest
of the world!
I'm here because of my 12-year-old daughter Kiran.
All her frienas in Mumbai are expat kids, and they'll
all be going back soon, so this is the only chance for
her to meet them all. I figured, Kiran had adapted so
well to New York, she had done well in school, so
she deserved this break. Besides, back home, this is
the Thanksgiving vacation.
We landed at night on Sunday. Monday morning,
6.10 o'clock, Kiran and I went for a walk along Marine
Drive, from the Oberoi to Chowpatty. God! It felt so
good to be back. Though I must tell Nana
Chudasama that he has not been keeping up with
the painting job on Marine Drive since I went away.
The place is looking rather shabby.
People keep asking me about New York, how's the
city been after September 11, and I say, two months
later, on November 12, we got another shock! The
American Airlines plane crash in Queens! But New
York took it strangely. There was no panic. No
pandemonium. No reaching for cells to make last
calls. People took deep breaths and said, "What
Then last week we celebrated Diwali at the Indian
consulate in New York. It was a solemn celebration.
piyas and pujas. The Diwali dhamaka was missing.
Indian women from all over New York met at this
Igdian restaurant Patang and celebrated the festival
as well. But things were rather subdued. Not like in
the past. I held aartis and pujas at my kids' schools,
went there and lit diyas as well.
I'm looking at touching base with people in a
meaningful way in Mumbai. I'm not doing tonnes of
lunches and dinners. I want to spend time with
people who mean a lot to me. I find Mumbai has
changed since I went away in June last year. For one
thing, the traffic's better! Or maybe it's worse in New
York. Or it's the luxury of being driven around that
makes me feel this way.
But everything, everybody, in Mumbai is so superb, I
feel so much at home here. Driving in the morning, I
switched on FM ... and there was Vinod Advani! Then
the darwan at the Oberoi door, another familiar
figure. And over lunch at the Frangipani, there was
Wendy, as helpful as ever. I had a headache... and
without asking, two Aspirins were fetched. Everything
seemed so familiar.. .. like I had never gone away!