Long-Distance Love in Mumbai: Romeo in Colaba, Juliet in Andheri

Love and Sex

Long-Distance Love in Mumbai: Romeo in Colaba, Juliet in Andheri

Illustration: Akshita Monga

They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Which is why, empirically speaking, 100 per cent of all long-distance relationships work out perfect. Oh… wait. 

Just three little words – long, distance, relationship – can make every couple break into a song featuring the words “dooriyan” and “judaai”. However, I would be lying if I said there were no upsides to distances: the pangs of heartache, the long WhatsApp messages filled with musings, and the sweet joy of reunion after many long months (or days, depends on how new your relationship is) of separation. Not to mention the healthy amount of space and “me time” you get.

There is, however, one situation where you get the absolute worst of both worlds: where you are in the same city, but live on opposite ends (main Andheri, tu Colaba). Effectively, you’re seeing each other as often as a long-distance couple, but can’t hide behind the excuse of an LDR. 

No matter which metro city you live in, an intra-city love affair is fraught with pain. I’ve had my fair share of hardships to endure during an intra-city relationship. He lived in Rohini, I lived in Gurgaon (I know, I know, different states), and for the most part of our relationship, he lived on the road and I lived on the Delhi Metro.

One monsoon afternoon, he was to pick me up after college for a quick coffee at Hauz Khas Village, which is about five kilometres from my college. He insisted he was nearby, and that the rains had slowed traffic down. Rarely was the weather in Delhi that pleasant, so I decided to take a long, leisurely walk to the coffee shop. I was hoping that he would either pick me up on the way, or I would reach a few minutes after him. The outcome? I strolled the five kilometres to the coffee shop, ordered a cappuccino, finished my cappuccino, and he still hadn’t moved from the spot he was in. It wasn’t at all surprising that only when he went away to the US for college did our relationship improve.

A couple between Mumbai and Pune – 150 km apart – are much better off, and honestly, don’t have more claim to the LDR tag than a couple between Andheri and Colaba.

No matter which metro city you live in, an intra-city love affair is fraught with pain.

I mean, come on babe. Please don’t call me to Powai on a Thursday evening from Kamala Mills because your friends from “out of town” want to meet your boo. You can take a leisurely cab to the airport, buy the quickest ticket to Goa, reach Baga, and start sipping a spurious pina colada, and I will still be struggling to get a seat at Dadar station. You can binge-watch End of the F***ing World and I will still be trying to catch an auto from Kanjurmarg. You can finish off a Google Analytics course and get a job at Amazon and I’ll be emptying my new suede shoes of the muddy water just outside the Powai pub. And when I finally meet you, after hours of battling the many-headed demon that is Mumbai sheher, you’ll look at me and say, “Late again? What’s the point of being in the same city if we can’t even meet properly, ya?”

Mumbai is probably the only city where on any dating app, proximity is more important than the profile of the person you’re swiping on. Tall, muscular, sapiosexual, gainfully employed, 420-friendly. Wow! Swipe righ… No. He lives in Mulund.

In this city where you take 40 minutes to cover a distance of four kilometres, you get it on with pretty much anyone in a rickshaw-able radius. You meet someone at a house party. Sparks fly. You talk the night away and finally, you ask her for her number. You tell her you’ll come over sometime for pizza and beer. She smiles, blushes, and gently drops the address bomb. She lives in Vashi, only seven or eight kilometres away from the railway station. You gulp, smile politely, and never see her again. You know that by the time you get around to her place from your Matunga pad, you’ll have rubbed up against so many strangers, and endured so many potholes that all you’ll be good for is Netflix and Kill-Me-Now. 

Don’t get me wrong. Love can blossom in this historic, storied city. Predictably, the ones that work out best are not the ones where both the partners share the same interests, but where they share the same pin code and reside on the same side of the highway.

However, there are the rare A-B-C couples (Andheri-Bandra-Colaba). The ones who travel the distances together. Those are the relationships that can survive anything – the local train, the traffic, the apocalypse. Unsurprisingly, for them, the rains are romantic. Those are the couples who spend their money not on dates, but on Ubers, seeing the estimated time remaining for arrival, and the dark, dark red of traffic steadily increasing on Google maps and pining for their other half. They are the ones who kick off their shoes at a different kind of home in the slow train, fingers entwined, hoping it goes even slower than usual so they can spend a few more minutes together. Mumbai really is the test of true love.

But give me a real distant darling over a faux local lover any day. I’d much rather bear the pangs of love and distance knowing that my SO is at least across a geographically defined state or country line. Rather than facing the truth of an incredibly hectic intra-city relationship, which is all but in name, a long-distance one.