An estimated 20,000 people come to this city everyday to make it big in their life. They all come with the light of hope sparkling in their eyes, which eventually dims to the dull tone of survival. They learn early that to stay alive in this madhouse called Mumbai, you need to learn survival. The senses of survival and unity sharpen.
Survival and unity.Each is incomplete without the other. Unity and survival. Survival is boarding the fast train at peak rush hour. Unity is when people at the door give a hand to complete strangers and help them aboard. Survival is searching for a house which is a)not half a world away from the city center b)prices are not sky-high and c)in a good locality, and trying to lead a normal life. Unity is when all the members of the community chip in to make someone else’s daughter’s marriage banquet as close to perfect as they can. Survival is when you roam all over the city in search of a job. Unity is when the recruiter says he will get in touch as soon as he hears of a vacancy, and he does. Survival is when the local Maharashtrians stage protests to reclaim their city back from the immigrants who come seeking for careers and cocktails. Unity is when Hindus and Christians and Jews come together to celebrate Eid and spread love. Survival is learning to dance in the lashing rains where Nature unleashes all her fury to make the rain resemble a raging storm. Unity is when neighbors pool their resources to build shelter against the rains and collectively store supplies. Survival is when you are optimistic about the future, when your eyes sparkle as bright as the lights on the Queen’s Necklace at Nariman Point, where you could sit at the Marine Drive promenade for hours just gazing at the sea. Survival and unity in Mumbai.
The air in this city is thick with humidity and pieces of shattered dreams. Dreams of shining on the silver or golden screen, dreams of living in a house like they show in advertisements. This city can more correctly be called City of Broken Dreams. People from all over the country come to try their luck, to gamble on their future. A person who may be a landowner in his village will come to Mumbai for a ‘better’ life with a beady eyed father declaring to other villagers;”My son is going to Mumbai. He will become a big man, he will not stay poor like me.” The father’s status will be instantly upgraded to the ‘seth(businessman) whose son is in Mumbai’. Two years later, the man will still be stuck repairing cars in a garage in some obscure suburb on the outskirts of the city. Another starry-eyed woman will dream of a break in Bollywood, the largest film industry in India. On coming to Mumbai, she either becomes a victim of the casting couch or acts in some shoddy third-grade movie which has little, or no takers. Another small town person may dream of having a 3 BHK sea-facing flat, with chauffeurs and maids, and all the comfort they could expect from life. Instead, they end up living on the overcrowded roads with each day throwing up new challenges and dangers, or join the notorious underworld of Mumbai.
But they still don’t lose hope. They still think of a future where all their needs will be met and they will be in absolute comfort, no matter how distant that future could be. Maybe that is the only thing that keeps them from going crazy among the streets of Mumbai. Maybe that is the only thing that keeping their sanity in place. Maybe that is they only thing keeping their selves together. Like Suzanne Collins said(or wrote, whichever you prefer):’Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear.’ And James Dashner has also written:’Fear of the unseen no longer controlled him. Hope had found its way in and taken hold.’ In a way, hope keeps us all sane. Our hopes and our dreams. They keep us all alive.