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Livin’ the Wake Up Sid life

TLM’s in-house social media girl gives an insider’s peep into moving to the Maximum City and calling it home.
Saumya new in the city of Mumbai

I never thought I would move to Mumbai.

I have always told friends for as long as I can remember that I can see myself moving to Delhi, Bengaluru, or even Pune but never Mumbai. I thought that this city was not for me but my friends always told me that I would fit in just right. I was in denial.

I come from a small town, around three-and-a-half hours away from Lucknow, called Nanpara. For me, driving down to Nepal for dinner is the norm, as my hometown is along the Indo-Nepal border and that means a whole other country is just a 25-minute drive away.

Nanpara is a 32 sq km town, so I have been living away from home since the age of nine. I moved to Lucknow for schooling and have spent eight years there. Later, I moved to Delhi for college. Every new city and every move has had a different feeling but it has never been scary.

However, Mumbai is one such city I have always been terrified of but at the same time, I have been inquisitive to visit. But only as a tourist! And that’s all thanks to Wake Up Sid, my favourite movie that I watch for comfort, and I love how much it romanticises this city.

The shift and quest to find a house

Out of sheer impulse, I moved to Mumbai in October. And, never have I ever been so scared to move to a new city for a job. Mumbai is where I know no one – no friends, no family, not even a long-lost classmate. I guess that’s why it is taking time for the city to grow on me. But I believe it’s the people make you feel like home, not the city.

My first 10 days in the city were spent at an Airbnb where I shared a room with a South Korean girl. While interacting with her was difficult, it was my landlady who won me over. She would take care of me like a mother—cook meals, look after me, and check up on me if I was late and that warmed me up to the city. I realised that people are kind.

I wanted to live with someone of my age group and background. Luckily, my flatmates are also from the marketing field and studied from LSR so that eased me into the city further. I knew I could relate to them and they would understand me better.


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But it was only on January 3, when for the first time in months, I felt happy in my apartment in BKC. It took me around three months to adjust to living in Mumbai, the crowd, and the ways of the city. I got a sense of calm when I entered my room that I was in my own space and it felt nice.

Taking the lone way to explore

I had heard that it is a fast-paced city, so I thought ‘How will I be able to approach people on the street and ask them a question? Will they answer?’ I also assumed that as my office is in Bandra, people would be snobbish and won’t revert, but my experience has been the opposite. After office, I often wander around Turner Road, Linking Road, or Pali Hill. Gradually, this gave me the confidence to talk to people on the streets and ask them questions or directions.

I remember it was my first week in Mumbai, and I was eating a sandwich from a local stall in Bandra. I asked an uncle eating at the stall to recommend what to order. He asked if I am a vegetarian and began suggesting a bunch of places and what to order there.

It is also my weekly ritual to check Zomato Live, Book My Show, and Paytm Insider to check what is happening and book tickets for events that interest me. I also ask my colleagues and thanks to work, I am updated about events. Every Friday, I ensure that I don’t go home and instead go somewhere to try something new. Besides this, I have an elaborate list on Instagram.

Here, I can also do things such as watch a movie by myself without being looked down upon. In Delhi, it was difficult to build the confidence to go out to eat alone, go to a mall, or watch a movie because I would worry about what people would think. But in Mumbai, I know that if I don’t go out, I will have to stay alone. It took me 10 days to make up my mind to go and watch a movie alone and I am putting myself in uncomfortable positions and learning to enjoy the city despite my fear.

Mumbai city

Photos: Saumya Agarwal

Love or hate: food edition

Chaayos has become my comfort place because you don’t find a lot of Delhi food here such as bun bhujia. So, after work, I go to Chaayos, get a cup of chai, and bun bhujia, and watch my show. Mumbai has made me a chai person. The weather in the afternoon is a little breezy and a cup of chai is nice, warm, and comforting, especially when I’m at Carter Road or Marine Drive. I have also been introduced to such good food here, which I wouldn’t have eaten otherwise, so I am expanding my palate.

But overall, I don’t like Mumbai’s Street food at all. Mumbai’s restaurant food is the kind I have never eaten in my life. I am lucky enough to find a good cook who knows certain North Indian flavours but often, what she cooks has a Maharashtrian touch. However, some dishes such as an Asian curry, kothambir wadi, and some restaurants are making me explore the food. Out of the 10 dishes that I try, there are eight that I don’t like but the two are the ones that I like and that pushes me to try more. Mumbai is opening me to try weird food combinations such as a samosa sandwich.

While I don’t understand how Mumbaikars eat so much pav, I do like a good vada pav. My go-to breakfast is a vada pav and watermelon juice.

Battling loneliness

In Delhi, I would go out both days of the week and do something all the time—I would meet someone for breakfast, another person for lunch, and a new dinner partner. Here, this is not the case, so I push myself to go out at least once every week. But the best way to battle loneliness is to pick up on new hobbies. For me, that is cooking and during weekends, I often order the ingredients that I like and cook a good meal. Sometimes, I even talk to my flatmates, go to the mall, or attend events.

Mumbai city

Photos: Saumya Agarwal

Since the time I have been in Mumbai, I have battled loneliness by rekindling with my old friends via phone calls. I didn’t get to do this in Delhi but here I have been calling them over the weekend and also got closer to my family after moving to Mumbai. I admit, it does get overwhelming and lonely in a manner where you want to run away home and I have been going home more frequently since the time I moved here. But then I think about the things that pulled me here and there are so many things yet to explore—that keeps me going.

Escaping the hustle

I think as a city, Mumbai is so fast that I don’t know when Monday starts. Despite having an elephant memory, I don’t remember where I went last week because every moment goes by in a jiffy! If I was having a slow day in Delhi, I would remember it and realise that I didn’t go out but here if I spend the weekend catching up on sleep then I am happy and don’t feel bad because of the city’s fast pace.

But when I go home, to Nanpara, I don’t miss this hustle at all. I like how quiet it is, there is no traffic, my mum makes my favourite dishes and I eat simple ghar ka khana such as dal chawal, and daal baati which I don’t get in Mumbai. I don’t even step out and just relax, spend time with my family, and don’t post a lot of stories either. It is slow, backward, and provides a sense of calm—I like it!

Mumbai city

Photos: Saumya Agarwal

Mumbai is safe, there is no doubt but what I love about the city is how it accepts everyone and there is a community for literally everything—be it books, games, music, history, food—the city has it all and it will not look down upon anyone. I have spent five month in Mumbai now, and I think I am beginning to like it.

This piece was narrated to the writer by The Lab Mag’s Saumya Agarwal who shifted to Mumbai last October.