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This time tomorrow…I’ll be in New York, NYC, The Big Apple…whatever you want to call it. Point is, I’ll be there, leaving behind Bombay for two whole years. Well, I will be back in the middle quite a few times, whenever I have time, but it won’t be my home. Not for the next two years anyway. I’m going to miss Bombay.

Yes, I call it Bombay, not Mumbai. Somehow I just can’t bring myself to call it Mumbai. Since my childhood, I’ve always called it Bombay. I don’t care what the Shiv Sena say or the MNS. For me, it will always be Bombay.

I’m relatively new to Bombay, I just moved there four years ago, as a struggling actor. When I first set foot into it, I didn’t like it. It was crowded, dirty, unorganized, dusty and terribly humid, thanks to its proximity to the sea. I hated it. But I felt that I would have to learn to tolerate it. This is where the whole film fraternity of India exists. This is the heart of Bollywood. I would have to learn to tolerate it. And I did. I just didn’t imagine I would fall in love with the city as well!

Bombay was the place I really grew up. I was eighteen by the time I moved there, an adult for all legal purposes. But not actually. Inside, I was still a teenage high schooler. It was Bombay that helped me make that transition between teenager and adult.

Bombay was where I fell in love, for the first time ever. I’d had boyfriends earlier, through high school, but I’d never been in love. Bombay was where the big L word happened to me. I knew now for the first time ever how it felt to be part of someone else’s life and to have that someone else be such an integral part of my life. I knew now for the first time ever what those romance novels meant when they said, “He made me go weak in my knees”

Bombay was where I had my first heartbreak. It was as soon as I told my ex that I loved him. He didn’t love me back.

Bombay was where I discovered that life is not a fairy tale. At least not in the way we are taught to dream about. Life doesn’t hand you things on a golden platter. It makes you earn them.

Bombay was where I learnt to dream. I’d had dreams earlier. But I didn’t know how to work towards them. I didn’t know how to make those dreams work for me. Now I do.

Bombay was where I learnt how to control my tears. It was during a fashion show. I’d forgotten my nude strapless bra in my hotel room. Everyone was terribly stressed, we were running behind schedule. When I told the designer (who, ironically enough, is a good friend today) that I needed to go up to my room to get that essential thing, I got screamed at…in front of everyone. It was nothing, just stress…today I would understand that. But to a newcomer, its humiliating.

Bombay was where I discovered how kind people can be. Even as the designer was screaming at me, the make up artist quietly came up, put a hand on my shoulder supportively and said to the designer, “She’ll just take five minutes, won’t you, darling?” he added turning to me. I just managed to nod dumbly at the two of them

Bombay was where I had my first big failure. I was thrown out of a movie, the movie I had counted on to be my first big break.

Bombay was where I had my first big success. I landed a job as an Assistant Editor at ACK Media, the publishing house that publishes Tinkle. Those of you who live in India, you’ll know how big this was.

For all this…I thank Bombay.

But what I thank Bombay for the most is for introducing me to filmmaking. Filmmaking has opened up a whole new avenue in my life. It has given me a new purpose to life. Today, it is even taking me to New York, to New York Film Academy. Next year, it will take me to Los Angeles, for the second year of my masters degree. The next year, it will bring me back home, to Bombay, hopefully then as an independent filmmaker. Without it, I’d still be waking up in the morning and wondering, “Right…so what do I do today?”