Zoya, Queen of Mumbai

Carter Road 1

There are many things I love about my new neighborhood: the trees that shade indiscriminately in the hottest hours of the midday sun; the maidan around the corner where boys bat cricket balls and men stand sipping chai; my favorite general store and its bevy of adolescent shopkeepers with whom I am now familiar enough to exchange smiles and greetings over purchases of dried anjeer, boxed milk, and Parle G biscuits.

When I’m thirsty and I want to stretch my legs, I take a five-minute walk to the coconut man who stands with his cart full of green goodness. I hold my finger up for “ek” and within a few second’s he’s deftly chipped a roughly circular hole out of the top of the fruit and inserted a neon-colored, plastic straw. I sip the sweet, warm water while watching teenagers shyly flirt in the semi-privacy of the mangroves, then pay my Rs. 30 and head back towards home. If I’m looking for other kinds of fruit I cross my street to find piles of anar, custard apples, and bananas; and if I just sit still in my room I can smell the fish sometimes