This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan.
Pawan’s efforts of carrying a bat in his backpack finally came to use. They played cricket near Vishansar lake. There was one catch – the bat and ball were of plastic! As they decided to play the gentlemen’s game, Arpit and Karthik volunteered for captainship. They picked their players and the decided the rules for the game.
Karthik’s team won the toss and elected to bat first. Dr. Sudip played the opening shot – he flung the ball in the air and it landed directly in Niket’s hands. Shobana was giving commentary – often biased towards Karthik’s team. As the game advanced further, it became a Bangalore + Allies vs Mumbai + Allies match. Suddenly, there was tension amongst the two captains; often reflected in their yelling when someone missed to catch the ball or failed to score.
Both captains were gripped by the madness of winning the game whatsoever! Sandesh realised the increasing hostility along with foul play and got both the captains into senses. Karthik’s team got out and Arpit had to get 67 runs to win. Arpit and Niket were the opening batsmen – with Arpit on strike. Abhinav bowled the first ball towards Arpit – Arpit was able to see the ball coming from Abhinav and as it came near, he could see the ball mocking him for the past. He smashed it hard, it directly hit Abhinav’s stomach. He laughed along with others, later apologising for the shot – but he didn’t feel guilty. Arpit’s team won the match with three wickets.
After a quick revamp of team members to ensure all cities were represented in both teams, they began the second match. The imaginary stadium basked in golden rays as the sun moved towards west. It was a dream come true for many – playing cricket in one of the largest and finest meadows nestled between snow clad mountains.
Abhinav sat behind the stumps with other team members and the girls. He was awaiting his turn to bat for his team. Ruhi sat beside him and they talked about the score and the customised rules for their game. All of a sudden, she asked him about his experience when he came to Mumbai for the first time. She wanted to go there, but was afraid if she would loose her individuality in the crowded city. Abhinav talked about his experience of coming to Mumbai – The City of Dreams.
Arpit and I got into VJTI together and packed our bags to reach Mumbai in June 2007. Arpit’s parents had arranged a PG for us near the college campus as they didn’t want us to stay in hostel, concerned wrt facilities and food provided there. Our train reached Mumbai Central station in the morning at 7 AM. We were super excited to be in the city of dreams. As we got out on the platform, we stood there viewing things around us; people pushed us around, murmuring abuses in the morning. Life in Mumbai was pretty fast – people seemed to be running continuously; where to was not clear.
We caught a cab towards Sion where we would be sharing PG with two other people who were also studying in VJTI, but were seniors. As the cab passed through various streets, I checked navigation to ensure we don’t get duped. Looking at the streets passing by made me realise Mumbai was not a planned city. There was a lot of filth on the roads, along with slums and beggars.
We reached the apartment and were shocked by its size. The two BHK home was smaller than the hall in my Jaipur home. There were no playgrounds or gardens around. Every window of the house pointed towards another high rise concrete building. It was maddening.
Everything was commercialised and expensive. Luckily air was still free. But Mumbai also had cheap options in terms of street food – it was melting pot of cuisines around the world. Arpit got sick in the first week thanks to various chaat we ended up trying. But we were determined that we would make it.
As time progressed, we fell in love with Mumbai’s soul – the hustle bustle, the love for money, the small roads filled with potholes, the rains and the people. You need to be a part of it to feel the connection.
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