My family is really cool, otherwise I wouldn't be in Mumbai, all by myself for my first internship. Dad has always been a strict disciplinarian — thanks to his army background. Don't get me wrong; he has always been supportive as much as his over protective nature can allow him to be, and gave me the freedom to live my life the way I want to. Yet, I was pretty ecstatic about living away from home.
After settling in this chaotic city, my idea of 'cool' has changed. I am an army kid so I have always been on the move , but the freedom in Mumbai is different! For an outsider, especially a girl, the first thing that excites you is the freedom to step out of your comfort zone. Suddenly I was free to choose anything and everything. From how to live, where to eat, when to go out, what to wear, what to do — sab kuch could be my decision. In the true sense of the word, you could be bindass and there would be no one to judge you!
What I love most is that at 3 am I can walk down the street or get food. Back in Dehradun, dad didn't ever let me step out of the house post 7 pm. With not a soul on the roads, I wouldn't let my child step out either. Don't you read the dreadful headlines? But here, it's all cool. Even when the sky is dark, there are people going about it like it is day time. So cool, right?
The night my roommate Samira came home at 2 am, I was freaking out. I mean koi time ka thikana hona chahiye na? But she told me to take a chill pill. That's when, for the first time, I understood why Samira had become this totally different person. She sat me down and said, "In Mumbai, you can do whatever you want. Everyone is chasing a dream here and they won't let anything stop them." Of course, that night I was extremely upset so the preachy discourse didn't make sense, but as I grapple with the various eccentricities the city is throwing at me, I understand her and her words better.
I have to tell you this funny instance when I went to a new pub with Samira. As my life revolves around fashion and everything to do with it, the first thing I notice about anyone is their clothes. There was a guy, around my age, dressed in a ghaghra and tee, hair tied in a ponytail, wearing a nose ring and kohled-eyes, sitting on a table next to us. Strangely enough, I was the only one perturbed by his unique dressing style in the crowded pub.
And that when it struck me, who decides what one should wear, what one should do, whom to marry? Stop anywhere in Mumbai and you will easily spot six out of 10 people who have broken all kinds of stereotypes and made their own set of rules. Mumbai's stereotype is that there is no stereotype. I am still trying to define what freedom means to me. But what I do know is that Mumbai's air will give wings to your freedom to fly higher than you have ever imagined.
Catch the interesting tale of Meera Sehgal in Girl In The City on bindass'' Facebook page every Thursday at 7.30 pm