I was reminded anew of how lonely Bombay can make you feel. There are so many familes, so many couples, so many people having avid conversations on thier mobile telephones. It makes it difficult not be a more animated participant; not to have someone beside you to share all of it with, not to have someone’s hair to kiss tenderly while you walk on the pavements. There is so much life here that it contrasts too harshly with your emptiness. Maybe that is why there is so much ambition here, so much purpose. People have hard lives here. Hordes of workers: collared white & blue, who tenaciously hold on to life, to the little things which keep them going and make the sweat, the crush and the stench worthwhile. But to me, who does not have a roof over his head to call his own since the first day he stepped on it’s soil, Bombay was the place where I was considered and measured for who I was. Not who my father was or what he had accomplished in life. Where after many, many years I made friends who wanted me around in spite of the fact that I had nothing to offer them which they could possibly want, except for my company and friendship. Where I learnt to survive. For Bombay is magical in one particular way. Everyone who lives here and breathes the air here, learns to discover his/ her inner strengths. We all become fighters. No one goes down without a fight. For this city stays afloat on hope; On dreams. On sweat, toil and the stench. On the things which are intangible but make you breathe in deeply, cherishing the fact that you are alive. The doped and dazed beggars on the street, the slum dwellers with no potable water for miles, the lovers with nowhere to go, the commuters, the fisherwomen, the man who with unimaginable wealth and a Porsche. All of them seem bound by the myths, the ways and the nature of this megapolis. It makes you respect what you have and fight for what is yours, even if you know that the battle is hopeless. Because everyday, you see people fighting hopeless battles and some of them actually winning. Every single human being on this planet has his battles to fight, his inner reserves, his moments of utter despair, his skeletons in the closet and his proudest achievements. But here, if you just spend the day moving around, and observing, you will see all of it, sometimes in one scene, sometimes in different places. All of mankind’s struggles laid bare. For the rarest commodity in Mumbai is privacy. Which is why, if you are silent for too long, the loneliness is unbearable. For you feel invisible in a world too busy fighting out it’s battles, living every moment right before your eyes. You will see love in the young household help’s eye’s as she gazes into those of her emaciated lover. You will see desperation written all over so many an office commuter, with only the fear of losing thier income holding them together, while stress and circumstance try so hard to rend him apart. You will hear steel instead of despair in the beggar’s voice when he asks you for alms. You will see beauty, disease, pain, hunger, joy, lust, contentment, ambition, piety, faith & nihilism. You will see it all. Different people get different things from what they see around them. Some see exploitation all around and want to do something to stop it. Others see hardship and wish there was some way of alleviating it. Some distort the things they see to suit their own realities. Others, like me, see different things everyday. Today, all I saw was love. Lovers, mothers, families. Which brings me back to where I started. I do not care if the people I saw were not really in love or would not be in love soon. Because, if you walk alone in this city, you would give much to share all of it with someone, anyone, even if it is for just a little while.