I didn’t travel much as a child. So, there are a lot of firsts I’ve experienced in the last half-decade or so. One of them is looking at the sea for the first time. This was during my trip to Mumbai last summer.
It’s funny how I also visited Mumbai in 2015 but never got a chance to look at the sea. How does one manage to do that anyway? Nevertheless, this is the story of my first gaze at the infinite.
I made my exit from the airport and took a taxi. It wasn’t a standard kaali-peeli because I wasn’t accustomed to Mumbai, yet. It was an Uber. My driver was rather passionate about Bollywood. I won’t even begin to talk about the cliché here.
I enjoyed talking about Salman’s recent movie and how Bollywood was improving regarding quality. Both of these were different discussions, obviously. My driver had some great insights. This was way different from my conversations with cabbies in New Delhi and NCR which usually revolved around the city and politics; talking about the latter was an earsore anyway so this change of topic was pleasant to the ears. Also, I love movies.
We wormed our way through the traffic. I guess no one is ever spared from Mumbai’s traffic and the love for movies doesn’t have much weight in that department. As we slowly moved toward the southern part of Mumbai, the landscape started to lift itself. I still wasn’t looking outside, engrossed in my conversation with the cabbie about things to do in Mumbai.
That was when my cabbie blurted the following out like an excited child. “Wo sab choddo sir, bahar to dekho. Hai na ek number?”
I laughed at his usage of “ek number” first. This was because I had a friend who played games with me online. This guy was from Mumbai as well and used the same phrase. “Ek number” was to Maharashtra what “Behenkar” was to Uttarakhand, I figured.
Then, I looked out and saw this beautiful silhouette.
Then, I saw the sea and how infinitely vast it was. It took me a second to grasp that it never ended, really. In that one moment, every old cliché and remark I had heard about the sea came to my mind, gushing in my head like the waves hitting the tetrapods at Marine Drive.
When you look at the vastness of the sea for the first time, irrespective of your age when you have that experience, you realise how really epic-ly small you are in the grand scheme of things. In that realisation, you look at everything in your life and the volatility of your experiences.
I wrote something in my notes. I refined the statement later in a further conversation about the sea with a friend.
I wrote, “The mountains tell me who I am, the sea tells me who I can be, and the cities show me how to do it. Out of all three, I love the sea the most because I believe in possibility more than I believe in the foundation or the journey.”
My meeting with the sea wasn’t as legendary or breathtaking as one might imagine. It was subtle. In that subtlety lies our love affair.