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Welcome (to the city) and have a pleasant stay it said in big bold letters. Of course I intended having a pleasant stay. Little did I know the city itself had even more exciting plans for me.

On my way into the city, choosing an unguarded moment when I turned my head to listen to what my brother in law was saying, I felt my arm being yanked. I turned to watch with incredulity, dismay, and utter sense of loss my handbag in the slimy hands of an oily haired slimier youth, in black trousers and dirty white polyester shirt, riding pillion on a bike, and disappearing at a dangerously high speed on the highway, away from me. I knew with a helpless certainty that I was seeing the last of my bank and credit cards, voter’s card, driving licence, some cash, mobile(s), a dozen alpenliebe toffees and something much more valuable than all that. My heart plummeted to its lowest, at the very thought. There was not going to be an Amitabh Bachchan or even his Aby Baby jumping into the scene, to restore the bag to its rightful owner. Then came another realization: I was also seeing the last of the senior son’s birthday gift, my cherished possession, my iPod touch.

The next few hours included calling up the police control room, being directed (or dismissed?) by them to one police station, being shunted by them to another, where finally a report was written and a loss certificate issued….. in Marathi. Long live regional languages. I am sure I am going to relish the experience of waving a Marathi certificate under the noses of Mallu officials and daring them to decipher it. Somewhat similar to how someone from Karnataka might feel waving a Bengali certificate, a Haryanvi an Assamese one, a Tamilian an Oriya… so on and so forth. Hmm… I wonder why they don’t teach ALL the official languages plus other ones as swell in ALL schools to ALL kids, right from the nursery. It would make a lot of things easier. Wouldn’t it??

Anyways, two samosas and a glass of chaas later, after having blocked all cards and informed mobile service providers, there I was facing my next problem. How do I get inside the airport to board my return flight with no proof of identity with me? The very helpful airline people tell me a Xerox copy of some id card would do. Oh really??! I wonder which private airport of theirs they were talking of? The problem is eventually solved when I ask a card for identity to be couriered to me from home.

It is not yet time for me to leave. The city is yet to be explored. But it has indeed ensured a very ‘pleasant’ start to my very first visit here; the only metro that a seasoned traveler like me has never visited as yet in the golden-century-plus years of her life.

So here I am.

Welcome to Mumbai .

Then I remembered, my favorite comb was in the bag too.

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