My Journey From Head to Heart
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Mangoes, Mumbai Locals & Extra Cheese!!!

Do read up part 1 of Amchi Mumbai chronicles.

So, with some sadistic quirk of fate I was left alone with Bau at Anjana Di’s home one lazy afternoon and unable to figure the right thing (or anything) to say I sank my head in my Laptop, when Bau asked about my Mumbai trip!. Like a little boy caught staring at a girl, I shared my learning's (minus the girls part of course, although now he knows that too!) about talks, Yes!+ etc and then we hit upon one of the passions which is very close to both our hearts (well closer to our stomach really) - FOOD! Well, for me eating and for him cooking and of course eating and experimenting! :)

As Bau says (and I agree) Mumbai is the food capital of the world. One has infinite options ranging from Rs. 5 to 500 Rs. Chat itself has so many choices – all with extra dollops of Butter or Cheese. The markets, spaces outside station are rendered so colorful owing to the presence of all the chat stalls. Double Roti, Vada Paav, Ice Bhel, flavored lassi, Ice Sev Poori, Jal Jeera, Gola, Paav Bhaji, Chaas – and these are just road side vendors. Things get all the more interesting when one enters an up market joint. For instance best sizzlers (Omg Yummylicious) in Pop Tates, best Punjabi food in Urban Tadka, Best of Rajasthani-Gujarati cuisine in Rajdhani and so on. Bhel poori is freely accessible at all local stations! And then there was Pastas’ by Di! And Gujarati food – Dhokla, Oondhiya, Patra, Kadhi, Thepla, Khandvi etc etc. There were more varieties of Dosas then I have seen in Chennai! Cheese dosa, pav bhaji dosa, Spinach Dosa, double roti dosa etc etc.

But to top it all – Mangoes!


There’s a special Mango called Payri. I kid you not we ate (drank!?) it’s soup, clear Mango soup in a bowl complete with a Soup spoon! And it was insanely rich, thick, creamy and sinfully delicious!

To everyone's shock & ridicule I was not a big fan of Mangoes (give me Grapes, Kiwi, Strawberries or even Bananas), mango for me was  just too messy a deal. But people are chillingly cuckoo about the stupid fruit! And some of it rubbed on me too by the time I left Mumbai. I am proud to say that I am a Mango convert now! :). Btw mangoes at that time were like 1000 Rs. per Kg. Now that is just the recipe for disaster – ungodly heat, crazy mango fanatics with out of reach mangoes!!!

By this time I was becoming increasingly notorious for desiring (even longing for) and hogging food!. It is actually nice once everyone accepts the fact that you are a total gone case, it becomes easy to be oneself. :)mumbai_trains_doorways_23

In Mumbai people age, have babies, consume (and digest)  food, finish semester exams, propose (to girls/clients/guys), get married & divorced, complete World of Warcraft, by heart Encyclopedia Britannica, all from a car/bike at traffic signals!

The lucky (and smart) ones take Mumbai locals! It’s literally the backbone of Mumbai, an amazing mode of commute, carries 7 million passengers everyday, arrives every few seconds and departs even before you can crack open a Peanut (groundnut!?) shell!

And one has a very high probability of falling in Love whilst on them! Imagine you are with the girl/boy of your dreams – in a Mumbai local. No place to stand, 3 unknown pair of hands find refuge in 1 hand rest, being pushed from all 10 directions – one is left with no other choice but to act all manly to protect the lady love from the pesky passengers. And amidst all this chaos, in ever so decreasing space between each other,  the time stops when their eyes meet, hands touch, strands of locks flutter about, the body odor gets entangled with each other, one overhears ‘tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanammmm...’ blaring from neighbor dudes Radio  – and then happens the chemical reaction of Love! :). It’s kind of sweet really to see a girl in guy’s compartment, with another dude, getting all cozy up. Btw this is just one of the many examples of male tolerance. No woman would let even a toenail of a man in a women’s compartment! :)

One learns belongingness, dispassion and surrender while travelling in locals. Just have to stand near the gate and one will either be escorted outside or carried inside (almost always the opposite of where you wanna be) by equally dispassionate passengers . And doesn’t matter where you are going, it will take at least an hour to get there. And this time would be utilized by talking to people about the course! Specially amazed was I, when these girls with me went about talking to passengers on different seats, as if they were loitering in an orchard picking Apples.

I got lost twice in the maze of trains, but found my way soon enough to make it for the college talks running on the IST time. :). It’s really special to ride the local when the sun is setting on the parallel track! I remember feeling so happy and peaceful amidst all the chaos & sea of humanity at sundown and also so belonged and Indian! :). Only in India you can push or shove or glare or mumble at somebody and then confirm the details of next station or time or cricket score from the same person after 25 seconds. :)

So after travelling 100s of Kilometers, talking to 100’s of youths and eating awesome food everyday, we were closing on to the day when I was going to be the part of the biggest Yes!+ of my life and the course which raised the bar a lot more....!

Amchi Mumbai - 1!!!

Mumbai truly rocks! I arrived in Mumbai on Holi. No sooner than I landed here, much to my protest I was colored all over in hitherto unknown new hues, doing a rain dance to the tunes of a DJ for hours! Rain dance on Holi is esp.. a lot of fun. People waste much more water by just having a non-veg diet, so a rain dance in contrast, is harmless fun. :)

And boy, do girls know how to have fun! They just dance n dance and keep inventing steps along the way, until lured away with promise of a Thandai! Speaking of girls, Mumbai girls are oh my god! :) Even an ordinary girl looks so gorgeous. They can carry themselves with such careless beauty. :)


I came to Mumbai to work for and learn from the 1,00,008 Yes!+ mega course with none other than Bawa and Dinesh Bhaiya themselves. After scrubbing off all the color and having a sumptuous wholesome Gujarati meal (courtesy Anjana di’s mom) we went out for campaigning in the evening on the streets of Mulund, near Anjana di’s home, where I was staying. It was a very nice learning experience.

So far, I was comfortable only with organized HIT’s and college/hostel intro talks, talking to random people wasn’t my style. :) So, initially in random talks I would be the concluding voice in a group of two. Special fun were talks in Mumbai locals. :) Mumbai volunteers are also very committed and chilled out at the same time. As a committed volunteer they took personal ownership and responsibility of the course, took initiatives to arrange talks in there colleges and there was no need for follow up for tasks agreed upon.

The course was initially supposed to be for 1 lakh youth. The target was revised to 1008 people as there were exams or IV’s in most of the colleges. 1 lakh course will now happen in 2011, with a vision of having 10,00,008 youths doing the course by 2012 end. The reason behind such an ambitious vision was the spate of sudden youth suicides in Mumbai and Pune. We have the answer which is very effective, practical and fun at the same time – Yes!+.

Anyway, we went out on the streets talking to people and putting up really creative posters created specially for this course. I spoke to this girl working for Hindustan Times and smoking her lungs away. When asked if she has heard of Art of living, she responded ‘yeah not much but I know all this is sham’. I embarrassed her by concluding that even I smoked but now I have a better alternative for time pass/stress release which gives a better kick and does not leaves a bad taste in the mouth. :) Cute girl though, with a nose ring and perfect smile, 1 cigarette ruined it all for me though. :)

This was the time of annual cultural fest for most of the colleges. Some of us also indulged in them – Tanvi Di n Mayuri (after a lot of drama :)) did rappelling. College talks were very effective. For the 1st time 12 and more people would register on the spot!

Another good work of innovation was the cool n colorful visiting card size brochures/pamphlets with all the follow up details which were handed out after a talk. It worked very well, when we present the course and they have an option to research more after going home. I realized that Bessy beach talks never worked because we expected people to register on the spot.

I was also missing Tuffy (my dog) here. 2nd day in Mumbai we had a satsang in this very beautiful bungalow of Piyush bhai (Yes!+ teacher). He has a huge dog – Sonu. Huge but very calm, furry n cute dog. It was so much fun to play with him. :)

Two most important things in Mumbai – Travel and Food! and the course itself which redefined Yes!+ : )…

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