Fresh from college, my first job is what took me to Bombay in 2007, as part of the immensely talented and relentless young team at Grandmother India.
I'd been to the city previously on countless occasions, relatives, workshops et al; but to fend for oneself in a bumbling, gargantuan mass of land hung-over colonially and bonded culturally is another thing altogether. It was 2007 and Raj and his proteges hadn't yet embarked on their communal assault.
The Taj was still intact and one could grab a quick bite at Leopold sans the haunting memories. It was on one of those days that my uncle came visiting on a short official trip. He was provided with a somewhat plush accommodation in Colaba with a care-taker instructed never to leave his side, as this was his first time in Bombay. We spoke about his trip when he called on me later as promised. In answer to my question, as to what he saw in Bombay and what he liked; he responded quickly citing Nariman point / Marine drive as being one of the most drab places he was taken to by his guide. " Thronged with people, simply staring at the dirty sea " was exactly how he described it. It wasn't easy explaining him why me or other people living in Bombay did that - thronging to Nariman point and staring at the dirty sea.
For a city now called Mumbai.