Lesson 1: Being away from your country is not the same as being away from your home.
Every individual's attachment to his motherland is unique. I have been away from my motherland-on and off- for the past 5 years and let me assure you that being away from your country is not the same as being away from your home. I have realized that these two emotional attachments are conspicuously different and distinct.
India has changed- rather it has been "refurbished". Two years ago, when I last stepped on my country's soil, things were in the process of being done, they still are and always will be. The streets of Mumbai seem like an operation that didn't go as planned and had to be taken back to the drawing board to refurbish.
Lesson 2: Welcome to Mumbai, India or may we say Welcome to Zoombai, India.
Its been a week since Purnima and I landed in Mumbai and what a week it has been! The first pleasant surprise was to see how beautifully the Mumbai International Airport has been completed. The contemporary structure has been slowly and gradually replaced with a more modern architectural feel giving it a more "Colaba-ish" look. Bottom line- I loved it! I wasn't able to thoroughly enjoy the good work done by the builders only because even at six in the morning it felt like we are stepping inside an oven set at 125 degrees Fahrenheit for over an hour! And somehow my growing appetite for that tasty butter chicken was replaced by sympathy for the poor fowl. Its been a week and I still haven't eaten chicken at home.
Cars- lots and lots of cars. About 10 years ago, if you were to use your peripheral vision and scan your vicinity, you would maybe be able to locate and correctly identify about 1 or 2 cars with ease. Today, you don't even have to use your peripheral vision, because a single glance on any street at any time of the day will present at least 6 to 8 different types of cars with their Ritz-y styles and Icons, Wagon-ing around the concrete Forest(er) in a Zen-like Verse(a). Its like car companies have found the Nano-technology for making cars with i to the power of 10!
Lesson 3:You can't teach an old dog new tricks, but you can certainly BLING him up!
Life in Mumbai is still the same. The people on the streets walking like kings on their morning walks, dogs lying around waiting for a treat from a friendly passerby, rickshaw-wala's driving their "rath" as if they are the only vehicles on the road, crows taking extremely low-altitude flights, etc. etc. However, what has changes is that these people walk with branded earphones in their ears with a "West Side" bag on their sides, rickshaw-wala's have proliferated like Agent Smith in Matrix Reloaded and malls have emerges on either sides of the road just like there was a boom of guys selling pirated DVDs at roadside about half a decade ago! Mumbaiites are turning into mall rats and everything is sold with a pinch of BLING!
On our first evening at home, Amod, Poulomi, Purnima and I ventured into Koram Mall in Thane. Simpletons that we are (read Purnima and moi), we ordered a Paani Puri and Sev Puri. The bill- a whopping Rs.80!! It took us a while to gulp down the paani puris because we were still recovering from that feeling called "being looted"! But like true Mumbaiite or Thaneite, if you would say, we recovered just as fast as we were traumatized. The lesson learnt- Ask before you buy, because the value of a 100-rupee note is no longer what it used to be 2 years ago!