Marine Drive: A Paradise Amidst Chaos

Author’s note: Marine Drive in Mumbai figures prominently in my debut novel “Of Love & Lovers”. This is an old write-up I had written about this place which is also one of my favourites.

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Hectic schedules of day to day life sap more than just our energy; they slowly rob us of the capability to appreciate the world around us. Those rare days which provide some stolen moments to reclaim our lives, I like to head down to Marine Drive in my hometown of Mumbai, India.

A 3 km long boulevard, it boasts of a sea facing promenade, lined by palm trees and bordered by a concrete wall, broad enough for sitting or strolling in pairs. The wall gives way to the Arabian Sea, protected from her occasional bursts of violence by thousands of huge Y-shaped stones or ‘wave-breakers’. During the monsoons, it is not surprising to get drenched by the raging waters dashing against these rocks and splashing across the six lane road; indeed many hundreds flock here to enjoy this very thing. At the far end of the promenade, where stone steps make way to the coastline, these rocks make a great place to sit and hang out with friends when the waters are calm.

Whether you prefer to sit at one place or choose to take a leisurely stroll, it is an experience to cherish. Indeed at sunset this place offers a glorious haven for couples. The rays of the departing sun dancing on the sparkling water, the evening sky bathed in crimson hues providing the backdrop to silhouettes of the last of the birds returning to their cozy nests and the cool breeze against your face, what better place to steal a few moments of intimacy with your beloved. In the ensuing darkness the city skyline lights up forming the “Queen’s Necklace” with the street lights resembling a glittering string of pearls. To satisfy your taste buds you have a wide choice ranging from the roadside vendors selling savory snacks to some of the well known and even exclusive ice cream parlors, pizzerias, restaurants and juice centers, lined up across the road.

Walking further northwards, you come to the end of the promenade that is the famous Chowpatty Beach. Late evenings, especially on weekends, this place is packed with people out to enjoy some quality bonding time with their families. Here the affluent couple, who just got down from their Honda Civic, can be found rubbing shoulders with the daily wage earner, bringing his wife and kids on a much anticipated outing. As excited chatter mingle with the voices of vendors trying to attract kids towards their multicolored balloons and pipes blowing bubbles, as the aroma of spicy chaat (Indian snack) permeates the air, you feel the very pulse of vibrantly alive Mumbai. And at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, when you see this road packed with families, kids and elders in tow, enjoying the city lights and sipping on kiwi or orange juice without a worry in mind, you know you are in the city of dreams where you may earn a pittance but still live like a king, larger than life.

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