Mumbai: Hate like Love

I wanted to write this a very long time ago, but today seems to be perfect for pinning it down. Basically, because my one roommate is busy being the boss babe with her colleagues, and one finally went home after being home sick for a leap year.

Also, portable speaker is the best invention by human kind, after moving chair of course!

So, I completed 2 months in Mumbai today, no no, it’s not my first time here. It’s just that I completed 2 months happily for the first time, that’s the point.

Earlier, whenever I had come to Bombay, I came as an overly enthusiastic budding journalist, who loved pizza so much that even her interviewees knew. *Never crib about food in a lift, especially in the lift of the client.*

I interned with big names, international names, and popular names in media but there was one thing which was common throughout these internships, some crap people. When I joined my first job in Bombay, it was a compromise, because I was desperate for a job, had a heartbreak from my dream company, media houses expected you to sell your kidney’s to survive because they had no money to pay you,  and also I was one hungry journalist, I needed food, for the same I needed money, so you know.

My first job taught me lessons for one lifetime. I had two reporting managers in 4 months time, one who was busy spoon feeding another joinee, while the other would visit my boss’s cabin every time I had an opinion, because INSECURITIES.

When I graduated, I was full of confidence, there was nothing I was not up for, I was ready to learn, explore, and deliver. And, I was good. It’s not overconfidence, its knowing myself, and I know it when I meet new people, I know by the way people talk to me, and I know by the way my interviewee’s answer.

And, this job made me feel sad, I got to know that hard work is not enough sometimes, smart work is not appreciated if its better than the person you are reporting to. It took my confidence, I was lost, and I was exhausted mentally. I was trying run away from one issue to another in search of a better boss, better environment, a place where my opinion is not taken as the threat, where it is being embraced, where my potential is utilized, not restricted, where I could look up to someone.

A music event I covered in Goa while working for this company, if anyone would ask what was the highlight of your career, it would always be this one. I discovered myself, my potential, and my fears. I stayed in a house which was not cleaned since a year, I cleaned it the day I reached, after 3 hours of traveling because my boss was too poor to afford a stay for me.

I traveled 2 hours on a bike from the house to venue, venue to the house, back and forth every day, wrote stories at the venue, after coming home, before leaving the house, ate alone in a restaurant, wrote while eating too. I worked my ass off. I fought with PRs for interview slots, cried in front of journalist and organizers for missing the big shot interview with Kygo, the PRs thought my publication was not big enough for the interview. One day, I had to ask a police officer to lead me to my house, because I got lost in the woods.

But then, I met people who dropped me home with a gang of 13 people, journalists who shared bytes without thinking about exclusivity, the restaurant owner who ate sometimes with me to give me company, the sweet neighbor who won’t sleep until I reached home at night, and red bull people, who would not make me feel exhausted but meeting me everyone I had a break down. The day I went for an evening walk on Mira Maar beach on my last day in Goa, I felt alive, my purpose was done, I had given 17 stories, I have accomplished what I had come for, and I had overcome my fear of being not good enough. 

So, a month after I came back from the fest, they told me that they no longer need me, because my reporting manager did not like that I did not look in her eyes when she held meetings on if ‘Honey Singh’s songs scares cows’ is a good story or not, and my General Manager thought I should write Dear, not Hi in the emails I write to my reporting manager, and my boss thought I did not communicate enough with him, because who does not like some attention.

I realized that people are insecure in media, they don’t know when they will be not needed, they have learned the importance of visiting boss’s cabin, and people have forgotten the difference between leadership and authority. I walked out of the office, I had never cried like that, and the funny thing was I was not crying because I had to leave but because why the fuck I was there for so long, a burden just went like that,  it felt so much peace after such suffocation.

So, after 7 months, I got another opportunity in Bombay, where I am working now. And, all these while, I hated Mumbai, the traffic jam, the people, the environment, and how people had no time. And I missed all of it, Mumbai was like the ex you hated from your guts but missed terribly at the same time.

I missed calmness of marine drive, the chaos of Bandra Market, Poshness of Colaba, and how the city had the power to make you a star from nowhere and then made you feel like no one at the same time.

I worked on my confidence when I went home while working in another place, I taught myself, I did not do it for a job, for a better paycheck but for myself. I read, I read every day, because, in all this mess, my work was my strength, I would see it and feel proud.

And, when I finally got confirmation. It was a joy of a woman who had lost her confidence, poise, and charm in one go.

So, when I packed my bags this time, I packed my experience with it, my hard work, and confidence. I was no longer  an over enthusiastic fresher who has come with an open heart to take it all in but I was an adult who knew now, who to let in, in your aura, who you need to shut out, and how to finally boil eggs. And, I did not know that I will feel home at my new workplace on my first day itself.

The more I hated this place, the more I love it now. This city has taught me to be myself, to embrace my weirdness, to appreciate what I have, and how you can be the hero, and how you can be no one in a crowd. It’s the city which will never stop loving you, no matter how many times you come back, it will take you in like the first time.

It’s not the city’s fault that you hate it, it’s the people’s fault who are around you. This city gave me some amazing humans who are my lifeline, who never stopped believing in me, who stood for me, who taught me so much, one Mehta, for being always there for me, no matter what; one Hasija, for giving me confidence; one Saini, for yelling to eat lunch and making me feel home; one Cherian, for teaching me maturity; one Ganatra, for eating all my food and making me laugh like crazy; two Deshpandes, for being there when I needed a hug; one Thobbi, for dancing out every mess and problem, they are everything which was good before and is now.

So, if you are an intern coming to get your big shot dream.  You are going to meet shit people, but also some amazing humans but the only fuck up is you can’t choose who you want in your life. You are going to meet some shit bosses, don’t glorify them that they teach you to be tough, you will only learn from the good bosses.

Give your best in what you choose, let it be even a transcribe, let it be a damn press release rehash, do it with all your heart. Because this city will give you back the love, hard work back to you. You just not know when, how, why. You will get the love back.

And, whenever you feel lost, look around, see the people, and take a long breath, and get some damn sleep. Next morning, start the day with a bright smile like you mean it. And, down the lane everything will be alright.

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