Bombay Bygone: Colaba through the Looking Glass

‘Little Alice fell down the hole, bumped her head and bruised her soul.’ ~ Lewis Carroll

Have you ever had an Alice in Wonderland moment? Falling through the rabbit hole, without looking back, only to enter your very own whimsical, magical universe – one that takes you back in time, to a special place that remains embedded in memories. A few places in the city of ‘Bombay’ manage to evoke such a strong sense of nostalgia for me – Colaba being one of them.

A Colaba of my childhood – Peering out eagerly from the window of the BEST bus, because the journey was just as much fun as the destination. Clutching on to my father’s hand with all my life for fear of being left behind in the crowd. Looking up in awe at the magnanimity of the Gateway of India, all through the eyes of a child. Looking down at the choppy waters with a sense of nervous exhilaration, wanting to get close but holding back still. The joy of being treated to a Mewad ice cream cone – synthetic and soggy – but it meant the world to a chubby child!

A Colaba of my youth – Bunked lectures, spontaneous plans, second class local train rides and a new sense of freedom. The freedom of walking down Causeway, spending your saved up allowance on street side trinkets. The nervousness of walking into Leopold Cafe, praying that the waiter doesn’t ask you for your I.D., experiencing your first sip of beer – a love affair that would last long ahead. The exhilaration that comes with budding friendships of the opposite gender, a stolen glance here, a shy smile there, a brush of hands in the crowd.

A Colaba of my adulthood – Of complete freedom and liberty, of responsibilities and stress. Of dreams and aspirations for a future bright. Of shared joys and sorrows with someone you call your own, that special someone. Nervous anticipation of what the future holds – career, children, cats – surrounded by echoes of the past.

A Colaba that warms my heart. Old colonial buildings whose facade stands tall even today. Nosy aunties peering down from those vintage buildings, throwing threatening glances at you while you try and click their residence. Ignore the jazzy cars, the hipster bars, the crowd bursting at the seams and you could be walking down a street from the past. 

Few parts of the city will forever remain ‘Bombay’, no matter how many times the city changes it’s name. Bombay Bygone is my ode to the city I grew up in. A city we all grew up in.

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