Tuesday, February 01, 2005

So long and thanks for all the pani puri

There was a commercial on TV in the early 80s for a brand which I can’t seem to recall now. (Was it Tango – the orange drink?) All I remember was a guy singing soulfully, with the resplendent Queen’s Necklace (Marine Drive for all you non-Bombayites) in the background. Sung to the tune of ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’, the jingle went like this…

Don’t cry for me Bombay City
The truth is I don’t want to leave
All the excitement
The bhel puri…

I’ve been humming this tacky ditty – written no doubt by a COPYwriter – as I pack my somewhat meagre possessions into two suitcases, which by some miracle might end up weighing only 30 kilos.

It’s a moving time for me. For one, I’m moving back to mainstream advertising, after two years of revelling on the fringes. And two, I’m moving to Dubai. (Spare me, I beg you, all the sheikh, camel, mallu, harem, gold etc., jokes. In the last three weeks I’ve heard them all.)

The move is on account of a few reasons - some personal, some professional and some, just a tad irrational. Come Friday, and I’ll be opening another suitcase in another hall (well, since we’re ripping off Evita here…)

So, yes, I’m going to miss all the excitement, and not so much the bhel puri as the pani puri! Ever since the move became imminent, I’ve risked life, limb and entrails for pani puri at various places across the city. Two places, I’ve discovered, do immense justice to the humble pani puri – the not-so-little-anymore stall outside Elco Arcade, and the one outside Shopper’s Stop on Linking Road. The attendants with plastic gloves, smocks and chef hats made me feel a little less guilty about indulging.

Flippancy aside, there’s a lot more I’m going to miss. Having lived all my life in Bombay (Mumbai, if you insist) I can’t even begun to list all the things I’ve gotten attached to, used to or just plain inured to (Western Railway, are you listening?) Most of all I’m going to miss the people – family, friends and the incredibly spirited, crazy, generous, callous, friendly, confused, never-say-die, noisy, uncivil and ultimately, endearing denizens of Bombay. Fare well fair city (allow me some illusions), I’ll be back.

Absolute Lee will continue on the other side of the Arabian Sea.

P.S. Any co-relation between my departure and the absence of a certain paper as mentioned in the previous post is purely coincidental.

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