…leaving London was incredibly difficult; coming to Bombay, easier than usual. The entire country waited with bated breath for a US President to mention the P-word. Meanwhile, journalists wasted far too much newsprint on the First Lady’s (lack of) fashion statements. This time, going through the phonebook to put together several tables of two, four and five was easier than usual; finding a Table for ONE, incredibly difficult.
It isn’t that I was never single in Bombay. I just never had to be alone. I met my first boyfriend through a neighbour. We hung out with groups of common friends and one day realised we were dating each other. The next few relationships followed a similar pattern. With the exception of one short-lived relationship (that is now a very strong friendship) I don’t remember going on a date in the city. Bombay is a frighteningly sprawling metropolis; but scarier still is how small it is. It is nearly impossible to walk into a restaurant or bar and not sit next to someone you know. And more difficult is to get set up on a blind date. Everyone seems to know everyone already.
That is, until you decide to pack your life into two suitcases, swap BEST for TFL, Indian Idol for X Factor and build on your collection of recipe books in a kitchen far, far away.
I have come back to India to find that Ma knows someone who sort of knows someone who is interested in “meeting a few girls”. Then there is another someone; and the possibility of a third someone, for when I come back in December. It clearly pays to get out of town… or does it?
The date was fine. We had tons to talk about but I spent most of the evening picturing several other people sitting before me. I won’t be able to keep that up for another meal so there will be a date No. 2. If I were doing this in London it is unlikely I would have told anyone about the date. And when I was done, if I chose not to write about it, I could spend the rest of my life never having to discuss it again.
But I am in Bombay and surrounded by friends who insist on asking questions. I love it! When I left the date I had 3 missed calls and a few text messages asking incredibly nosy questions. No matter how peaceful and fulfilling my life is in London, I know I will never have these friendships there. I needed reinforcements before I could convince my friends that I wasn’t being my “usual self” in turning down the sweet man. It’s a rare day in Bombay that I find myself on my own… Table for ONE, here I come :-), finally.
I cannot remember the first time I went to Bade Miyan. I also cannot remember a trip to Bombay that doesn’t include Bade Miyan. The chaos at this street vendor is more organized than the service at most five star hotels. I ordered a sheekh kabab roomali roll (Rs. 90) and wait for it to arrive, double parked behind a few other cars, also parked illegally. The tiny, filthy lane is fragrant with the smells from a feisty tandoor; my mouth waters inevitably.
Bade Miya was started in 1940 by a 17 year old immigrant following his dream all the way to Bombay. My fellow-blogger and lovely person Sam often talks about chasing dreams. Something he wrote recently has always fascinated me. He says, “The tricky part is that you’ll never know whether a person is walking away from you or walking towards (someone/thing else).”
I’d like to stand still for a while.