A Decade out of Dubai

Aerial view of Dubai – clicked by me

“You won’t survive in Mumbai!”

“I bet you will be back in 3 months!”

“I bet six!”

When I decided to move from Dubai having lived there all my life, it was no surprise that it caused many to be in shock, disbelief or denial. “Why would you leave Dubai to go to Mumbai?” someone asked. At that time all I could say is “Because the city is alive and buzzing and it challenges me,” something that Dubai had stopped doing a while ago.

I landed in Mumbai on 23 July 2010, in the middle of the monsoon season, with two suitcases and lots of ideas on where life would take me. “So is this it, will you be here permanently?” someone asked very soon after I moved. I had the insight to say, “I am here for now,” and left it at that. Mumbai was indeed ‘the city of dreams’ and that’s where many milestones were achieved and beautiful friendships made.

But like any catalyst, Mumbai started whispering in my ear after five years of being there, saying “I have taught you what you needed to learn”. The old dream, the last unfulfilled one of moving to Australia, was a parting gift from Mumbai. A process that was stuck in Dubai moved along smoothly when I revisited it. Less than two years later, I found myself packing my bags again to move to Melbourne.

It has been a little over three years here and I now realize what Mumbai was trying to say to me. Every city I have lived in has taught me things that I needed to know to grow in the next one. Mumbai was a beautiful gestation period as it sprung forth the purpose that I created for myself in Melbourne.

I changed careers, studied and trained to be a counsellor. I started my own counselling practice and have recently qualified to provide supervision to counsellors as well. A dream that was nurtured in Dubai when I was in high school, for which I took a writing course in Mumbai finally came to fruition in Melbourne. I wrote three books in the span of a year, completing a story idea that germinated while watching a movie in Mumbai. I thought it would end with one book, and laughed at the idea of writing three. But write I did, riding on a wave of inspiration, flowing with a perspective I wanted to share with the world.

Today marks ten years that I left Dubai. A place I yearn to visit more than ever since travel became a distant reality. I miss my parents, my family and my friends, most of whom I am better connected with, as the distance hasn’t been an issue thanks to technology.

Leaving the nest and spreading your wings is something I wish for everyone who wants it. There is growth outside the comfort zone and I am glad I had the chance to move and grow when I was ready for it. If you too, find yourself at a crossroads, don’t be scared. Everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear. Take the plunge and embrace the adventure!

“I had to make you uncomfortable, otherwise you never would have moved.” – The Universe


Goodbye June and half of 2014

Mangi Midnite. Dedh Ishqiya. 19th January. YJHD on DVD. Gadda da Vidda. Illuminate. Delhi with Lamhe gang. Valentine’s with DeeJay. Mumbai T2. MAANVIK. Sidhu sisters & Harry Potter. College memories, London friends. Oscar night. Gulaab Gang. Queen. A ‘see you soon’. Lakme weekend. Preps for April. The universe ALWAYS provides. Laughed till I cried. Italy vs Germany. Shonali turns 20! Mehendi playlist. Aer & Haagen Dazs. 13th April. Rio 2 and farewell at Indigo. Mayyur’s Mumbai store launch. 50 GOLDEN YEARS. Reunions, dance, chanting and more! Vows renewed. Love is a 4-letter-word spelled T-I-M-E. Mumbai layover with an oath. Beautiful Berlin by buggy, bicycle, boat and foot. DeeJay save the week. Old friends, childhood families. 3 day birthday. 4 movies and 1 play. Jhalak Dikhlaja 7! Eiffel Tower & Brooklyn Bridge. Twitter, finally! Comic tragedy 1. Goodbye Toshiba, Welcome Dell. Soul lessons. Mini Musings. How to train your dragon 2. Comic tragedy 2. Full Circle @ Royal China. 22 June. 6 sunny / 2 blustery afternoons & 1 nostalgic night. In gratitude…

A tale of six cities

This story starts, as many such stories do, at the airport. You are ready to board for your destination, when it dawns on you that you have been in transit your whole life and realise that change is not only imminent, but necessary. This is my short story of a long contemplation, which finally resulted in a move that has been very fruitful.


The city where I lived my entire life, barring four years of university in London. It was a cosy place while I was growing up, with lots of character. The city was developing too, at a rapid pace, far too fast for us to keep up with I guess. Somewhere, I felt I no longer connected with it. A place where my entire family, circle of childhood and high school friends, colleagues, cousins resided, suddenly felt distant to me. It is then I started my search of where in the world I would like to live next.


Australia was a popular country to move to at the time. I had but one friend there who would be my head quarters in the city. I started living in Melbourne in my mind, planning how my life would be ‘in a land far far away’. But unfortunately, or as fate would have it for me, the ‘Once upon a time’ never happened. After waiting endlessly I planned a trip to clear my mind and decide where I would like to move. An Eat, Pray, Love of sorts, not in that order and certainly not those countries in the book!


First stop.  The ‘sights and sounds’ of Sin City. On holiday with Mr. Nairobi and lunch with Ms. Antwerp, we enjoyed the beauty and ease of Europe! Some worship, a little clarity, and a 3 day trip ends with the beginning of a decision that seems fast approaching on the horizon.


Second stop. The Big Apple had just gotten bigger, with so much to do in so little time. My cousins, a dear friend who had moved from Dubai and a tight schedule gave little time to introspect. Funny how you travel to cities far away to make a decision to move to a totally different city, but the distance helps. Your mind re-organises information, compartmentalises thoughts and generally points you in the right direction.


Final stop. A few days in my beloved city where I lived for 4 years certainly cleared the last remaining doubts. A short one night trip to Bristol to meet Mr. Luxury MBA, I spent the remaining days with my pal from my masters. I spoke to her about many important things, this being one of them. That talk was the highlight of the trip. When I was alone, my music and feet took me to familiar haunts and corners where I saw my younger self without a worry in the world. I could see where I had to go, everything seemed clear. We go further to get closer to ourselves, travel the world to find a resting place. Now the hard part would be to break the news!


After I got back I quit my job and started clearing my life. Memories stored for decades saw the light, were sorted and put away again. Nostalgia and the shock of others weakened me, but I stayed firm on my decision. Within 6 weeks of being back, I was on a plane, back ‘home’. Funny word for nomads like us. Dubai, Mumbai and god knows which other city will claim that title. But for now, it has been 3 years and counting!

3 years and counting…


It was a soul searching trip across many cities in 3 countries in the summer of 2010, which made me realise that to grow further in life, I had to move out of Dubai. I had tentatively booked 23rd July 2010 as the date to fly when I bought my ticket, and as fate would have it, that date remain unchanged, changing my life forever.

3 years later, I am sitting in my study, looking out at nature, the monsoon rain providing the visual effects and background score, reflecting on my life and how it has evolved. Mumbai is not an easy place, but my friends made it easy for me. They are my family, and have seen me through my ups and downs in the city that never sleeps.

“Why Mumbai?” A lot of people asked. I loved Dubai while growing up, my four years in London at University were fun, but as an adult I was missing something in Dubai. The pulse, the vibe, the energy, was present, but somehow I couldn’t catch it. Mumbai was always home, but would the spoilt ‘NRI’ in me make it my permanent residence? Well, I guess NEVER SAY NEVER!

I remember friends and family back in Dubai joked that I would be back in 3 months. Some even wagered bets. I will not deny the sinking feeling when I was wheeling my trolley to check-in, moving only 2 hours and 20 minute flight away, thankful that both my homes were so close by.  I was headed to Maximum city, and I knew exactly why I chose it.

Mumbai is ALIVE, a city forever bursting with energy. We have pot holes the size of craters, the moon would take them seriously! Our traffic doesn’t understand the word traffic, and just stands still. There is chaos on the roads, especially when the Monsoon unleashes itself. But every person you see, has some character. Life is not a right here, it’s a privilege. And it’s that quality which keeps us grounded, makes us count our blessings, while we enjoy the many authentic sights and sounds of the city.

Signs of growth and modernization are visible in every corner, and whether its restaurants, cinemas, the theatre or the old fashioned street food and beach, everything is welcoming with the indefatigable spirit of Mumbai. Yes we complain and whine, things are not perfect here, but then, where are they? Perfection is in your mind, and yes, Mumbai challenges and motivates me like no other city has. I don’t think I would have taken to writing like this in Dubai. Here, life stares me every day in the face and asks me, ‘What makes you so special?’ and I have a different answer every time.

My love for cinema and having access to EVERY Hindi movie that releases, set me aside from many Bollywood fans across the globe who have to wait for DVDs or TV premiers. It also helps having censorship laws which are different from the Middle East, we get to enjoy English films in a more complete way J

We are all a product of our own choices and the people that surround us, and I am no different. My parents were immensely supportive and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have taken the plunge. I would like to thank all those who made the last 3 years a fun and learning experience. I have met some very interesting people, and have celebrated many milestones here. Look forward to lots more in Aamchi Mumbai!

All in a day…

5 malls. A 90 minute massage. A coffee with a friend. Checked out the new Q 10 blackberry.. Me likey! My favourite Fleur de Lis cake at Pauls. Picked a birthday present. Bought another set of pressies. My favourite Cafe mOre, caught up with another friend. Driving around the spotless city, listened to my favourite music. Now I know why I missed you.