It wasn’t an easy decision for me to move from Moscow to Mumbai in 2018. For several years since I started traveling, I had the feeling that India would be the place I would finally settle, but I wanted to go to Cairo and Paris beforehand in order to learn French and Arabic, as well as tarvel the world for the sake of promoting my first novel. However, since 2015, after a handful of months in another country, I would miss the colors and feelings of India. I would speak to myself in Kannada to relax my mind, I would read the Indian newspapers searching for the latest current events. Though I was born and raised in the USA, I found India increasingly to be my home. I thought about living in either Delhi, Mumbai, Gangtok, Kolkata, or Pondicherry. Since Mumbai is India’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city, I thought it would be the best fit for me. I ultimately chose wisely. Though I would end up living in Paris in the summer of 2018 for two months, I otherwise called Mumbai my home for that entire year. I loved it as much as I loved New York or Istanbul. It was the only city, in fact, that after spending a year there, I immediately wanted to do another.
Mumbai is a microcosm of all of India. Almost each neighborhood has the feeling of an entirely different Indian state. Usually people begin by exploring the Fort or Coloba areas of South Mumbai, famous for its colonial English architecture. If you want to feel as though you have been transported to Madrid or London, this is where you have to be.
Another loved neighborhood of Mumbai is Bandra. During the time of Portuguse colonialism, Bandra was a small fisherman’s town, completely modified due to many years of Catholic influence. The English gave it its freedom, but Catholicism is still the main source of culture in Bandra. Due to its cosmopolitan nature, eclectic architecture, and inviting coastline many people want to live in Bandra. This includes myself, but sadly, I was unable to afford rent there.
I ended up living in Juhu, a neighborhood famous for its Bollywood stars, right on the other side of Amitabh Bachchan’s home. Visiting Juhu’s seafacing beach was a daily possibility for me. This, along with the beauty of the many rich European styled bungalows of the neighborhood, was the reason I wanted to live there.
In order for a place to be home, you need to like the place for what it is, and you need to make close friendships to anchor you to it. I was lucky enough to find both in Mumbai. My best friends were fellow creatives, from journalists to novelists to visual artists, and I also met the right people who were able to help me practice my Hindi. Even when I didn’t have close friends by my side, I was able to keep myself entertained, by going to book club meetings, by attending classical music concerts or Bollywood shows. Mumbai is a city in which every day you have a handful of events to chose from. It is a city built for people like me, who never want to be bored.
I think in the last eight years I have learnt a lot by traveling. Since I will learn much more in the coming years, I don’t feel correct in saying anything at the moment, except for the following. To judge people less, to live with my goals in mind, to be open minded, to not harm others, to accept others for who they are, to read them based on the person they want to be, to respect my family, to be one with my culture, to use my space