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How do I say ‘Goodbye Bombay’?

I have been putting off writing this for some time.  I wasn’t really sure how to word it.  Or how I would feel whilst writing my swan song. How do I say ‘Goodbye Bombay’?
Yes, it’s true – I am leaving Maximum City.  Mr Jules has been called back to take a position in the UK, the packers are in and I have one foot out of the door.  My doggie Bartlet is preparing for a new life on pastures green.  In fact, I have known for some time that the inevitable was going to happen but I felt such a strong connection to my blog, my readers and Bombay, that I have put off mentioning it for as long as possible.

I’ve never properly revealed myself before on this blog…here I am!

It’s very emotional.  My Mumbai journey has been the most rewarding of my life. It has brought me so much and changed the person I am for the better. There is too much to hark on about that I don’t really know where to begin with it all.  The people, the city’s hidden gems, the people, the travel, the people, the food….and of course the shopping!

And here is the fabled Mr Jules (us on our weddnig day)

When I started writing my blog almost exactly two years ago – it was only ever intended as a communication with friends and family and perhaps other expats.  It soon became much more than that. As I began to explore the city and shop for furniture for our apartment, I also began to share information on the best stores with newcomers.  Whilst sharing personal cultural experiences with those back home, my blog seemed to help other ‘accompanying spouses’ arriving in the city – who were apprehensive or did not know where to begin with setting up home.  Then, within about five months, BombayJules started to attract a local readership as well – Mumbaikars began to tell me that they enjoyed the alternative perspective on the city that only a foreigner could bring. Not too rose-tinted I hope: the city has many flaws for sure! Thank you to those city-dwellers who have written to me personally to show appreciation of those posts. Please continue to explore and enjoy Mumbai – it’s not an easy place to live but there are lots of hidden gems yet to be discovered.

Having never written publicly before I started blogging (other than business reports and English Language exam entries), the whole thing has been a revelation to me and opened up a creative side that I never knew I had. Certainly, I could improve the standard of my writing (and grammar!) but it has given me a massive ego boost when a few pieces have been picked up by newspapers and websites. My feed can also be found on ‘We are the City’ and ‘We are Mumbai’ and I have had many requests to write for online sites such as Times of India, The Scribbler, Style Dabba etc etc.  However, I do believe that specially written content should be paid for – that’s why kids go to university to study journalism and I feel sad that free content from bloggers should threaten that institution. Blogging should be a showcase for writing and opinion, not a free-for-all bargain basement opportunity for the media industry!

Our belongings (and my many Mumbai purchases!) being loaded on to a container.  So sad.

The amazing cultural and travel experiences that I have had in India are, of course, far too numerous to mention: From spectacular Indian weddings and intimate Ganpati celebrations; to visits to the ethereal Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple; riding on elephants in Assam and learning to photograph Bengal tigers in Tadoba; floating up the Ganges in Varanasi or the backwaters of Kerala; bargaining for rugs and brass collectibles in Rajasthani bazaars; the refreshment of smoggy city air by the crashing rains of the monsoon; learning to cook butter chicken with the Pandit sisters and becoming addicted to Parsi cuisine; dancing to Daler Mehndi in the Hawaian Shack; drinking chai in Dharavi and gorging myself on Vada Pav on the side of the expressway; learning to appreciate tribal art and buying up crates of Indian textiles and crafts; buzzing around in Mumbai’s bumble-bee auto-ricks; photographing everything I can possible photograph from the inside of a car. Two years have brought me and Mr Jules endless delights. Incredible India indeed.

Very little comes close to seeing your first Bengal Tiger.

Some of you will know that I have been working with The Foundation for Mother & Child Health for two years – a far departure from the corporate accountant that I was before – and the wrench of leaving this organisation is also very hard for me.  In those two years, FMCH has gone from being a staff of five and a managing committee – helping a few hundred malnourished children in the Dhobi Ghat slums – to a staff of nearly 20 and and an Executive Council reaching out to thousands through the replication of our model in other parts of Mumbai and rural Maharashtra.  Exciting times.  I have been so lucky to have been involved with the strategic planning process that will help evolve this wonderful organisation – I just hope that I can somehow continue to contribute. Thank you all at the Foundation for welcoming me in June 2012 – and putting up with my opinionated self all of this time!

The amazing team behind Foundation for Mother & Child Health
Clinic at FMCH.

The most important contribution that Mumbai has made to my life is of course…Bartlet the street dog.  I adopted him at an animal welfare event in November 2013. He nearly died within the first 48 hours of owning him (unbeknown to us, he had a serious case of dysentery) but we soon nursed him back to health and he has been an absolute joy ever since.  He’s cheeky, sometimes naughty (but he’s just a puppy) and he adores people and other dogs. I just love his welcoming, smiling face with his tongue hanging out when he greets me (even if I have been out of the room for only two minutes!) Unfortunately he has become very scared of walking outside, due to the noise and the traffic and it is for this reason, that I am looking forward going back to the UK – where he can run in the green fields to his heart’s content.  I know he is going to love it – and he will enjoy the cold weather too.  I have to admit, I think I will enjoy being in the cold again too!

Bartie has grown from this…..
….to this!

That just leaves me to say goodbye to you, the reader.  I can’t thank you enough for all the support and interest that you have shown in my ramblings over the last two years.  It’s been so much fun and it’s given me so much satisfaction to gain the support of Indians as well as friends and family and people from all over the world who have written to me.  I hope to blog again sometime in the near future – I will put up a notice on the BombayJules Facebook Page in case you want to see what I am up to in the UK.

So long dear reader, so long!

In the manner of ‘The X-Factor’ or ‘Big Brother’…here are the ‘best moments’ of my blogging career!

Very exciting moment when my blog gets picked up for the first time by DNA newspaper.
My Beanbag post was a revelation to me – I never knew ‘Beanbag 26407383’ was such a mystery!  This story was my most popular post ever and brought BombayJules lots of new readers (and a bit of media attention – as highlighted above on Midday and below on the Redbull website)

A personal highlight….being featured along side a pic of Salman Rushdie… 😉
My first ‘media appearance’! Culturama June 2013

Absolute India online newspaper

“Captures the essence of Mumbai”….thanks for your kind words Deliverychef!

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