This day last week…and ten years ago, I joined a bandwagon. An infamous one at it – Mumbai’s own lifeline...the infamously famous local train commute! 
It was the beginning of one lanky anxious girl’s tryst of turning into warrior (read: toughening up) in matter of minutes of boarding that 9:22 AM CST bound local on her first day to college. And in the course of time, the routes embarked on and mastered - be it Nallasopara, Panvel, Khopoli –  made me a seasoned one at it. There are innumerable commute-tales to relate. Every day is a story in itself. Some funny - like this. Some annoying. Some eye-opening.

However, a month and a half into college and Mumbai was caught unawares when there were bomb blasts at Zaveri Bazar/Mumbadevi Temple and the Gateway of India in August 2003. And then there were more. Many more. The city has been subjected and held ransom too many times. It was at these times I realized that the city wasn’t only learning resilience; but also teaching it. I learnt. Still learn.

This city toughens you up, they say.

And nothing’s tougher than the lingo out here. Phaadd daal. Phodd daal. Phekk daal. Kapische.
I ain’t ashamed of my language. It’s my city’s language. And through it the city resonates within me when I speak ‘the speak’.
Someone annoying? Saala satak
Wanna bring them to their senses? Tapli bajao
Someone too skinny? Oye kaandi (& I got a lot of this)
Wanna say hello? Abbey sunn…
Wanna make your way through? Patli galli se nikal
Irked to the point that your fist is already in a fold? Kaan ke neeche chamaat bajaane ka mann karr raha hai
It’s the only city where ‘dimaag ka Saki Naka’ makes absolute sense (and will continue to do so till the end of eternity. Saki Naka hasn’t changed. Nor ever will). And ‘don’t give dokyala traas’ is the best assurance you could receive. You can address any man as ‘Mama’ and know that he’ll soften his stand.

I’ve lived here since inception. And they say it’s never easy getting away. The city is quite the charmer. But what if that could change? I’m up for the challenge. The city has challenged me to shape me become more ME. Accepting this challenge may well be another step in that direction! 

May be. May be.

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