The story of a young budding journalist with the same dreams in her eyes that you and me would have had when we were 20. However, life has too many secrets from her which she has to unravel even as she has to fight for the ideals she stood for.
The train finally reached the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. I gathered my luggage comprising a strolley, and backpack, taking out some money to pay for the city travel that lay ahead of me. I adjusted my shawl and got down the train only to be surrounded by a crowd of porters aggressing to take my baggage. "Thank you, I can manage. Now, let me go."
As I struggled to get myself out of the crowd, the back string of my backpack gave way. I stared in dismay as it fell to the ground with a thud. I should not have overloaded it with those heavy books as my mother had warned me. I sighed as one of the porters hurriedly picked it up. "Koi Baat nahi Behen ji, Repair karaadenge. Apan ka bhai karta hain bag repair isi station me. Aao." (Not to worry sister, we'll get it repaired. My brother does the job in the same station. Come).
I followed him, relieved of my load mumbling to myself. "Nice beginning".
We reached a stall of a cobbler. The porter was quick in explaining the work to him. The cobbler was very hospitable. "Paanch minute baitho, ArAm se chai peo. ek dam theek karke dega. Dubaara tootega nahi" (Sit for 5 minutes and relax over tea. I shall repair your bag such that it shall never break again).
As I sipped my tea, I glanced at the racing public, in a hurry to join back their daily routine. I remembered a funny quote by a friend that Mumbai life is a like the life in any city in a 4x fast forward mode. I chuckled. He was not completely wrong.
The cobbler picked up a conversation with me as soon as he realized that the work was taking longer than he expected.
"Mumbai me Aap Naukri Dhoondne ayi hain?" (Did you come to Mumbai to search for a job?)
I replied to him that I had already found a job and my joining date was two days later. I had come a bit earlier to settle down as a PG in a flat recommended by a friend. The inmates were her ex school friends who were looking for a room mate.
"IT company me?" He asked. For a normal person who meets anyone for the first time, this kind of probing would not be welcome. But I found a sense of concern in the tone in which he was asking. I could not help being a bit charmed. I proudly told him that I found a job as a junior reporter in one of the leading National News Network, the number one media house in the country.
His eyes grew bigger in surprise and admiration. He asked me if he could see me on Television and which news program would I be anchoring. I laughed and told him that I was only a junior reporter and need to grow a lot through the ladder to host any show on the channel.
"Tell me if something happen here. I come on TV. I know English. I answer all Questions. My name Govind, Govind Kelkar" came his sentences in broken English. I laughed, partly at his enthusiasm and partly at his attempts to speak in English. I paid him and left the Railway Station with my baggage to find a taxi to the flat. I checked the address broadly and beckoned to a taxi driver.
"Andheri, Mahakali Caves Road." I told him.
The middle aged driver seemed to be in deep thought. I looked at him questioningly. He then said. " Andheri very far. I drop you at Church gate. You catch local. It go empty now. No rush (read crowd). You save more money, reach fast."
Another dynamic face of Mumbai. Do I judge him as a bad business man or a good hearted Mumbaikar who did not want a young gal to 'waste' money on taxi travel.
I was also excited at the prospect of travelling in the famed Mumbai local while there is less crowd as he claimed. I got into the taxi and he started to Church Gate.
"You Job?" He asked in the same broken English.
Out came the story of my job again. I could now not help enjoying the admiration in his eyes. "Your job, danger, Reporter job big danger."
We reached Church Gate and the man turned back to me. "Ahmed Bhai, Mera Naam, My Name. Anytime, you need help, call me. Mera Mobile number."
I took his name and number, thinking it is generally useful to know a taxiwallah in Mumbai. This is the best part of being in the media industry. You get to talk to people and they do get impressed by you. Very exciting work life as compared to the other dull 9 to 5 jobs where one is literally imprisons in his/her 3x4 cubicle.