Mumbai is a city of paradoxes, of dreams – a city that envelops a visitor completely, entering into one’s bones and into one’s mind.

As someone who visits Mumbai frequently, I can say with confidence that India’s business capital has changed. It has become more crowded, more polluted and more congested. The middle class is growing, malls are springing up across the city, and the number of cars on the roads is increasing at an astounding rate. Around 200 cars and 300 two-wheelers are added to the roads of Mumbai every day (1). Spending inordinate amounts of time in traffic has become a part of life in this city.

Traffic congestion aside, some aspects of the city remain the same. Mumbai is still as multicultural as it was 10 years ago. A variety of languages and cultures reside together and live in tandem in the colonies, the buildings, and the bungalows that make up the city’s landscape. If you look carefully, you’ll notice people bowing their heads in prayer as their train passes by a church, a mosque, a fire-temple, or a mandir. This multiculturalism adds to the city’s dynamism and complexity.

The city’s magic can still be found at Marine Drive, a promenade that runs along the southwestern edge of the city. One can spend an entire day sitting along Marine Drive and watching the Arabian Sea interact with the city’s edge, as the two meet and part constantly with the flow of the waves. If you stare at the sea long enough you can drown out the sounds of traffic, and all you’ll be left with is the sea breeze and the view of little boats bobbing up and down in the distance.

Falling in love with Mumbai requires learning to love the little bits of magic the city has to offer. This magic can be found in the shopping stalls that line major roadways, in the old trees that keep watch over the city, in the parrots and eagles who whiz overhead. Salman Rushdie, Gregory David Roberts, Anosh Irani, and countless other authors have written about life in this city, with Mumbai playing a central role in their phenomenal tales. The sea, the sounds, the people, the scorching summer heat, the saving grace of monsoon rains, and the city’s history all come together to create a place that is both brutal and wonderful.

Tushna Mehta is a fourth-year history undergraduate student who is a by-product of the two cities she loves, Mumbai and Toronto.