1. Autorickshaws: They are (mostly) always willing to take on a passenger even if it'll get them minimum fare. They charge by meter, and not a paisa more. They have (mostly) zero attitude (Yeah, two months in hydie and you will really start appreciating this). But most of all, I love that you can hop into a rick and strike up a conversation with the auto wallah about Shiv sena, current affairs, rain, or an impending World War. (Yeah, I have covered all these issues with autowallahs). A priceless snippet of one such conversation from this trip..
Me: Public aur press ne usko fukat ka chadhake rakha hai...(Sanju baba, of course)
Auto driver: Arre! aap jaisi hi-fi madam koi ro rahi thi usko jail hua iskeliye. Kayko roneka? Usko apni kiye ki saza mil rahi hai bas.
Note the words "hi-fi madam", yes, they made my day. :)
2. Bindaas Bombay: It was pouring cats and dogs. Bombay now presses the panic button every time it rains longer than 10 - 12 hours at a stretch. I got on a bus to go to Siddhivinayak, and we were in one of those low-lying areas in waist-deep water, the bus had stalled. Everyone seemed tired, hassled and worried. A man got on the bus and slipped. Some stranger helped him regain balance. He thanked the man, a joke was made, and an entire bunch of drenched and hassled people who didn't know each other broke into peals of laughter.
I was smiling too, even though I didn't hear the joke. :)
3. Help is always forthcoming: The first thing I had to do when I landed in the city, was to close my old bank account. So I went straight to the bank, bag and baggage, wet and umbrella-less. I put forth my best marathi (quite rusty now) and explained to the security guard at the bank what I needed to do. He offered to watch my bags for me, explained me the procedure to close my account, brought me a blank sheet of paper to write my letter, pointed me in the direction of who to see and essentially made it a breeze! Also made small chit-chat with me while I was waiting and told me where I could get some nice hot chai near by. :)
Since I didn't have a cellphone, the P.C.O machines and my little book of numbers were my lifeline for those 5 days. Not once did the shop manning the P.C.O refuse to give me change for a ten-rupee note so I could make my calls.
[Yes, this has happened umpteen times in hydie. I don't know why]
4. Food: I ate duniya bhar ka kachra when I was there, and it tastes best when enjoyed from the street-side vendors. For the wusses there are several new joints that serve all this kachra made from mineral water. Then there's Monginis, Naturals Ice cream, Gaylords, K Rustoms, Swastik, Shiv sagar and a host of other places I didn't even get my fill of.
5. The sense of purpose: Everyone strides about in urgency and hurry. I loved the crowds and the hectic current running through the city, wherever I went. I loved waking up with the city, and sleeping late, watching it still awake and abuzz.
6. The public transport system: The local train network and the BEST bus system can pretty much take you from any point to any point. To fill the gaps, there are rickshaws and taxis always. It felt so good to navigate myself in familiar territory, get from one end of the city to another without too much trouble and make it in good time too.
7. The sea: Nothing beats sitting along Marine Drive, watching the traffic, hawkers, couples, and assorted joggers and tourists, or just watching the sea and the Mumbai skyline. Complete bliss in the middle of chaos.
Yes, it will take me a while to stop fawning, I have been Mumbai deprived for two years and was living in hyderabad for the past two months! :p