Monday, 3 February 2003

Dinner With Strangers

Change is necessary, isn't it? I have moved to Mumbai. I got a job here as a 'Social Media Evangelist' for an MNC called 'Datum Digital'. I am so glad I took this job as I am really enjoying Mumbai. I have always liked the spirit of this city and the hard working and smart 'Mumbaikars'. Though I have visited it often, living here is an entire different experience.

I live as a Paying Guest and have a roommate, Payal. She is from Delhi and is studying her Masters here. She amazes me, as in spite of being from a Science background, she is very intellectual. Earlier this week, when we were about to sleep, she said, "PG (Paying Guest) life is strange, isn't it? You make a ruckus about sharing things with strangers, but you meet so many strangers if you are living away from home and share a room with a person you have just met." I just want to share her feeling instead of mine on this one as we are quite alike.

Ria lives in the next room and she is from Vapi. I went out for dinner with her to this place half a kilometre away from where I live called 'Dakshinayan', which is a South Indian restaurant. It was crowded and the receptionist told us we would have to share a table for four with two other people! We agreed as we were really hungry. Ria told me this happens in Mumbai all the time. I have never experienced this back home in Ahmedabad. We took our table and in a short while two middle aged women joined us. They were speaking Gujarati and asked for Jain South Indian food- which means they wanted jain dosa, jain sambhar and jain chutney as well. The waiter got very confused and took a long time to get their order whereas ours arrived really fast.

When they got their dosa's, one of them asked the waiter to take hers back as she felt it wasn't enough hot for her and asked him to heat it again. She asked me, "Taro garam che?" (Meaning: "Is yours hot enough?" in Gujarati) seeing that I had already finished half of my masala dosa by then. I asked her in surprise, "How do you know I am a Gujarati?" She replied, "That is because I can see that you understand what we are talking about; and you are smiling knowingly ever since we asked for Jain food." Haha! I need to control my knowing smiles. We spoke about all good places to eat in Mumbai, and also about Gujarati food, of course. I had warned Ria earlier (softly in her ear) that if I start a conversation with them, it would be like eating together rather than simply sharing a table. But she is a very talkative person herself.

My office is really swanky and smart. Benaifer is a very sweet Parsi girl who I just love talking to as we talk in Gujarati (she is the only one who talks to me in my mother tongue apart from Gujarati women I meet in restaurants and here and there) She asks me in her saccharine Parsi Gujarati to breakfast with her. Then there is Lumbini who works very hard and Kirti who loves to talk. There are some other team members as well, who have been very helpful and supportive.

I am totally on my own, and I am enjoying every bit of it. There have been heavy rains here last week. It got difficult at times but I just love this city and everything about it- the beach, the rains, the trains, the taxis, the people, the cosmopolitan environment and... fashion, food, culture, roads, glamour... Looking forward to more experiences that I can add to the list.