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Have you ever travelled by a local train in Mumbai? If you have, please accept my apologies.

 

You see, you are reading this on a device that many don't have. You don't need to travel by trains anymore. But sometimes we need to look back to move forward. We need to remember where we come from.

 

Every day, countless dreamers come to Mumbai. In 1997, I was one of them. But everything I knew about the city seemed to be a lie when I heard this announcement at the station:

“Churchgate ke liye jalad local platform #2 par aarahi hai.”

("Fast train for Churchgate is arriving on platform #2.")

 

I swear to God I had never been pushed that hard in my life before. And as I stood there, struggling to balance my thin 57 kg body on a single toe, I found my face in someone's armpit. I was 22—a fresh engineering graduate from NIT Agartala—and by the time the train crossed Andheri, my shirt, my tie, my certificates, my resume, and my dreams were crushed beyond repair. And by the time the train crossed Bandra, I fainted. But here’s the thing about Mumbai: Our local trains do not let us fall. They are just that crowded. So I stayed afloat. And then I heard a motherly voice whisper these comforting words:

 

"Tension mat le. Sab theek ho jayega. Baith idhar."

("Don't worry. Everything will be alright. Sit here.")

I was given a window-seat, a modak, and I was told:

 

"Tera sugar level kam ho gaya hai. Tension mat le. Yeh Ganpati ka prasad hai. Sab theek ho jayega."

("Your sugar level has dropped. Don't worry. This is Ganpati's prasad. Everything will be alright.")

 

At this point, the train stopped at Mumbai Central. I gathered what was left of my dignity and I looked up. The woman with the motherly voice? In that crowd, I couldn't tell who she was. But she stayed on my mind—even when I reached Churchgate for my interview later. And even though I didn’t get that job, I knew I would be alright. Because I could still hear those comforting words:

"Tension mat le. Sab theek ho jayega."

("Don't worry. Everything will be alright.")

Now I have been living in Mumbai for more than 26 years and I can still hear those words. You see, that woman was the reason I didn’t fall. I was 22 then. I am 48 now. When I think about it, that woman is the reason I am still standing. This is what She has done for me and countless others like me. Mumbai... Bombay... call Her what you like. She is the one who makes dreams come true. And She hasn't brought us this far to leave us now.

SONG #1: MUMBAI

A slice of heaven with a messy side
She’s got summer warmth in her embrace
You can't help but fall in love
She's a photograph you can't erase

She'll give you wings so you can fly
And your dreams will see the sun
In her arms you'll believe 
Life for you has just begun

She'll make you cry happy tears
Hold your hand in the rain

Announcement in the train:
"Agla station, Andheri!"

("Next station, Andheri!")

Mumbai, she's the guiding star
Let her shine on you 
No matter who you are


No matter who you are


Life is a one-way ride
You've got to hold on to your dreams
Call her name like a little prayer
Go beyond, go within

She'll hold the moon singing lullabies
Take away your crown of thorns
Nurse your wounds, wash you clean
Save you from the howling storm

She'll make you smile through your tears
Like the sun in the rain

Announcement in the train:

"Agla station, Bandra!"

("Next station, Bandra!")


Mumbai, she's the guiding star
Let her shine on you
No matter who you are

No matter who you are or what you do
Her arms are open wide
She’ll take a chance on you


No matter who you are or what you do
Her arms are open wide
She’ll take a chance on you

 

Announcement in the train:

"Agla station, Mumbai Central!"

("Next station, Mumbai Central!")

Mumbai, she's the guiding star
Let her shine on you
No matter who you are

 

Mumbai, through the sun and rain
Keep the faith 
Keep the faith in that name

Announcement in the train:
"Agla station, Churchgate!"

("Next station, Churchgate!")

_____________________________________

Thank you for staying. If you close your eyes and take a deep breath, maybe you too will hear these comforting words:

 

"Tension mat le. Sab theek ho jayega."

("Don't worry. Everything will be alright.")

Mumbai is where dreams come true. It's where love finds you. Keep the faith in that name.

On August 8, 2019. I played what can easily be described as the worst show of my life. It was so bad that by the end of it, I hid myself as far from the stage as possible. (I slid into my sleeping bag and lay on the floor as far from the stage as I could.) But someone still managed to find me. She was beautiful. She smiled nervously, clicked a selfie, and said, "This is the best night of my life. Thank you." I couldn't believe what I heard. But when I think about it now, I understand.
 

Throughout the pandemic, this is the woman who nursed my spirit when it was crushed. It was then that I started writing a song. I stayed up all night trying to find the words. Then by the time I reached the bridge, I saw the first hint of daylight. That bridge goes:
 

I'm enough
I'm enough
I'm enough
'Cause I've found you

 

Although it is yet unreleased, it is still the most requested song I have written. Every time I sing it, happy tears roll out of my eyes. Because it takes me back to the night I wrote it. You see, Mumbai really is where dreams come true. It is where love finds you.

IT IS WHERE YOU DANCE WITH INFINITY.

How rich would you like to be? How much money would you like to have? Imagine that the universe sends you ten times that amount. That is how rich this woman made me feel. And so I wrote this song and called it 'I Am A Billionaire.'

 

SONG #2: I AM A BILLIONAIRE

I've been tried by the sands of time
I closed my eyes, wished that I was blind
Who I am, I tried to understand
I held out my hand

 

I was fallen on the ground
You broke the silence without a sound
I saw you, I turned around
And in your eyes, it's me I really found


Hey, I'm a billionaire
Hey, 'cause I've found you
Hey, I'm a billionaire
Yes, you know it's true
'Cause in finding you, I found me too
Hey hey hey, I'm a billionaire 


I've been tried by the sands of time
Only 'cause I paint outside the lines
Who I am, you helped me understand
You held my hand​

I was so tired of this town
It had me cryin' without a sound
I saw you, I turned around
And in your eyes, it's me I really found


Hey, I'm a billionaire
Hey, 'cause I've found you
Hey, I'm a billionaire
Yes you know it's true
'Cause in finding you, I found me too
Hey hey hey, I'm a billionaire

 

I'm enough

I'm enough
I'm enough

'cause I've found you

 

I'm enough

I'm enough
I'm enough

'cause I've found you

 

I'm enough

I'm enough
I'm enough

'cause I've found you

 
'Cause in finding you, I found me too
Hey hey hey, I'm a billionaire 

_____________________________________

And that brings us to 'Silver Lining' (the song from the HOMEPAGE). This could be your own story.

SONG #3: SILVER LINING

Small-town boy, daddy's pride and joy
Up and left to fill a void
Door to door with a bag of dreams 
He just kept knockin' but wasn't let
in

The city sun ain't for everyone
She asked him, "Are you willing to burn?"
And when he cried on the phone at night
She asked him, "Baby, have you even tried?"

 

What you seek is seeking you
This is not the end
What you seek is seeking you
Your life is in your hands

When you see the silver lining
When you see the stars aligning 
You will see your life's a love affair


When you see the silver lining
When you see the stars aligning 
You will see your life's a love affair

With nowhere to stay, no prayers left to say
He had to lie on the phone at night
"Of course baby, I'm alright" 

She knew him well enough to tell
He was searching for heaven in hell
She said, "Baby, you are all you need
Just look at the stars, not your feet

 

He heard what she said and he held up his head
And saw a light, it was burning bright
And he just knew he'd be alright


The city sun ain't for everyone
But a new journey had begun
He held her tight when she arrived
Just held her until she cried

 

What you seek is seeking you
Seeking 'til the end
What you seek is seeking you
Your life is in your hands

When you see the silver lining
When you see the stars aligning 
You will see your life's a love affair

When you see the silver lining
When you see the stars aligning 
You will see your life's a love affair

You will see your life's a love affair
You will see your life's a love affair

_____________________________________

The people we laugh and cry with say a lot about who we are. Thank you for staying. But before we move forward, let us change the emotional weather.

Think of a singer. Imagine he is in town and you want to attend his show. But there is a catch: You have no one to go with. You still book a ticket and pray that nothing goes wrong. But on the day of the show, all hell breaks loose.

Even though it is a Saturday, your boss calls you to the office while he is away on vacation. You do not complain. You soldier on with a smile instead. But then, the boss schedules a Zoom call for 8 pm. When you decline it, your cellphone rings immediately. As you speak, the security officer peeps anxiously. Then he looks away as you end the call screaming:

"NOT TODAY!"

The show is slated to start at 9 pm. You need to act fast. So at 7:45 pm, you rush to the restroom to change into your concert clothes. Then with wild horses pulsing in your veins, you rush to the parking lot. But your heart sinks. A flat tyre? Not now. But nothing can stop you. NOT TODAY! You yell out the name of the nearest railway station to a rickshaw-driver and hop in. At 8:35 pm, you hop off saying: 

"Rakhlo sir, thank you so much!"

("Keep the change sir, thank you so much!")

 

As you begin to climb up the steps, you hear this announcement at the station:

“Churchgate ke liye jalad local platform #2 par aarahi hai!”

("Fast train for Churchgate is arriving on platform #2.")

You rush to the ticket counter and see an excruciatingly long slow-moving queue. You scan the faces with a 50-rupee note in hand. Then you ask the elderly woman right in front:

"Maa ji, maa ji, madad kardo please!"

("Ma'am, ma'am, help me please!")

In less than a minute, she hands you your ticket. You thank her. You hug her. You run. And you make it to the venue on time. You stand in the queue outside hyperventilating, but with a grin on your face. Then the bouncer asks for your ticket and you realize your phone is dead. At that moment, you see a middle-aged woman mopping the floor. You wave your phone at her frantically and ask if she has a compatible charger. She says she does not but manages to find you a power bank somehow. 11 and a half minutes later, your wrist is stamped and you are inside. At that very moment, an overhead beam of light lands on your face as if to welcome you. And the singer spots you and goes: "HEY YOU!"

SONG #4: HEY YOU

You and I, we're here tonight
Diamonds dancing in the light
Rainbow colors everywhere
It's a cosmic love affair


You and I, let's raise some hell
Wave your wand, weave your spell
You are here where you belong
Raise your hands and sing along


Don't you wanna go beyond the realm of time
Take my hand, don't look behind
Close your eyes and you will see
This is where you need to be


Hey you
I see the fire in your eyes
Hey you
Oh how my spirit sighs
Hey you
How 'bout we paint the skies
Fall in love, fall in love tonight

 

You and I, we're here tonight
I can see you in the light
Just hold my gaze with a stare
Make me feel like a billionaire

 

You and I, my oh my
Listen baby, I don't lie

It's for you I wrote this song
Raise your hands and sing along


Don't you wanna go beyond this dance
We'll never know if we don't give us a chance
Cupid has been taking aim
Venus and Mars, they'll take the blame 

Just look at me now, set me aflame

YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH

Hey you
I see the fire in your eyes
Hey you
Oh how my spirit sigh
s
Hey you
How 'bout we paint the skies
Fall in love, fall in love

Fall in love, fall in love tonight


You're the dream
That I've always seen
How can I not...
Be so mesmerised
By the fire in your eyes
How can I not...


You're the dream
That I've always seen
How can I not...
Be so mesmerised
By the fire in your eyes
How can I not...

Fall in love with you tonight

_____________________________________

Thank you for staying. As you keep reading, remember: You are at the show. The flat tyre, the boss, and the one who refused to come with you do not matter anymore. You are in the light. After everything you have been through, you are still shining.

 

 

SONG #5: STILL SHINING

I see you smiling
I see the light inside your heart
The light is shining
Like a candle in the dark

There's a heaven
Someone recalls your name
And there's a reason
Your future is yours to claim


Dream your dreams with open eyes
Dream your dreams 'cause you're alive


You're still shining
Don't you cry tonight
Please believe in dreams you're dreamin'
You are all you need, take a look inside

You're still shining
Don't you cry tonight
Please believe in dreams you're dreamin'
You are all you need, just open your eyes


I see you smiling
I see the light inside your heart
The light is shining
Like a candle in the dark


But if it's raining
If there's a storm inside your heart
You know your path is clearing
Your life is about to start


Don't give up your dreams tonight
Don't give up on your own light


You're still shining
Don't you cry tonight
Please believe in dreams you're dreamin'
You are all you need, take a look inside

You're still shining
Don't you cry tonight
Please believe in dreams you're dreamin'
You are all you need, just open your eyes

 
Life is your creation
Get off your bended knee
Make it a celebration
Dance with infinity

 

You're still shining
Don't you cry tonight

Please believe in dreams you're dreamin'
You are all you need, take a look inside

You're still shining
Don't you cry tonight
Please believe in dreams you're dreamin'
You are all you need, just open your eyes

_____________________________________

As the song ends, it cracks something open in you. You find your way to the front of the stage and mysteriously enough, a beam of light follows you there. You look up at the singer and he says:

"This next song is about a champion, a fighter, a survivor... it is about you. I know there are people out there who are trying to size you up. Tell them not to measure you from your head to your feet. Tell them to measure you from your shoulders to the sky.

 

SONG #6: BRING IT ON

Here I am, this is where I started
This is me, it's the course I charted 

 

I'm gonna right every wrong, it's the due I've got to pay

It's here I belong, I'm not goin' away

 
Bring it on
I'm a fighter: I'm still standing, I'm a survi
vor
Bring it on
I ain't gonna leave before I'm done


Bring it on
I'm standing with my arms wide open

I'm stronger in the places I was broken
I ain't gonna leave before I'm done
Bring it on

And in my heart, there's a fire still burning
And in my eyes, there's a light still shining


I know my life is getting shorter every passing day
I’m just a little older I'm not going away

Bring it on
I'm a fighter: I'm still standing, I'm a survivor
Bring it on
I ain't gonna leave before I'm done


Bring it on
I'm standing with my arms wide open

I'm stronger in the places I was broken
I ain't gonna leave before I'm done
Bring it on

I'm gonna make it right
I'm standing my ground
I'm gonna fight 'til the last round

Bring it on
I'm a fighter: I'm still standing, I'm a survivor
Bring it on
I ain't gonna leave before I'm done


Bring it on
I'm standing with my arms wide open

I'm stronger in the places I was broken
I ain't gonna leave before I'm done

_____________________________________

This song hits you hard. You understand you are here to be a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts—to carry on your modest version of God's work. So you raise a fist. The singer notices you again. And as you hold his gaze, he sings you a new song.

SONG #7: HARE RAMA HARE KRISHNA

You are here to live your dreams
To push yourself to new extremes

To seize the day, seize all it brings
So let the heavens kiss your wings

You're not a slave of yesterday
It was just a lesson anyway
Don't give up, don't walk away
Your heart will always find a way

You're a star wrapped in skin
Your light shines within
You're a star, take a look within


You're a star wrapped in skin
Your light shines within
You're a star, you’re a star

Hare Rama

This is the song of life
Hare Krishna

It's the call to be alive
Rama Rama

This is your time to dance
Krishna Krishna

You know your life is a romance

You know you never have to hide
Your story's only yours to write
So take a closer look inside
Your heart will always be your guide

You are here where you belong 
Welcome home to your own song
This is where you can't go wrong
So raise your hands and sing along


You're a star wrapped in skin
Your light shines within
You're a star, take a look within


You're a star wrapped in skin
Your light shines within
You're a star, you're a star


Hare Rama

This is the song of life
Hare Krishna

It's the call to be alive
Rama Rama

This is your time to dance
Krishna Krishna

You know your life is a romance 

 

If you've been broken, you'll be whole again
Prayers you left unspoken will be answered in the end


Hare Rama

This is the song of life
Hare Krishna

It's the call to be alive
Rama Rama

This is your time to dance
Krishna Krishna

This is your life

 

(Hare Rama)

If you've been broken, you'll be whole again

(Hare Krishna)
Prayers you left unspoken will be answered in the end

(Rama Rama)
If you've been broken, you'll be whole again

(Krishna Krishna)

Prayers you left unspoken will be answered in the end

_____________________________________

You tear up, but you are not the only one. You see a soft amber light on the singer's face. He says:

"Our paths have crossed for a reason. A lot of unfortunate things are happening around us. Remember: None of us are as strong as all of us. Together, we can make a difference. Let me tell you about Elisabeth Fritzl: The Girl In The Basement. For 24 years, Elisabeth was a prisoner in her own home. During this time, she was faced with the choice of either starving to death or getting raped by her own father: Josef Fritzl. The abuse he put her through resulted in seven children. That's not all. He killed one of them and burnt the body to get rid of it. Josef Fritzl is currently in prison and that is where he will be for the rest of his life. But is that punishment enough? I am not sure. So I have rewritten Elisabeth Fritzl's story. I have given her a new title: 'Poster Girl.' In my version, she kills her father."

SONG #8: POSTER GIRL

Courage is the crown she wore like a queen 
When she was hell bound for her old man's sin
Fine on the outside but scarred from within

The mother always knew, but never intervened
And the girl fell into methamphetamine
She couldn't face the man, she couldn't even scream

She was the poster girl for broken dreams
Trying to fly with broken wings
To chase the light, escape the night
She was dying... just to be alive

Save it save it save it
Don't say another word
If you don't see the embers in her eyes

Save it save it save it
Don't say another word
If you don't hear her silent battle cries 


Crushed by defeat, ruined to the core
She was at his feet like wreckage on a shore
And there was a pain that she couldn't ignore

 

She bore the abuse behind a closed door
Bound by a noose flat on the floor
Losing everything in every encore


Tested and tried, played like a whore
"Mercy," she cried, "Can take it no more"
If only he knew what he had in store


(A GUNSHOT ECHOES THROUGH THE NIGHT)

Bullet in the chin, blood-on the floor
The cops came in with the reaper at the door
She had faced the man, she would cry no more

And the poster girl for broken dreams
Learned how to fly, healed her wings
She saved the girl from the girl she'd been
Takin' the fall risin' like a queen

She's still exiled, she's still a stepchild
In some ways still unreconciled
But there's a light deep inside
That's burning 'cause she's alive 


Oprah Winfrey's at the Golden Globes

"She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. A new day is on the horizon!"

Save it save it save it
Don't say another word
If you don't see the embers in her eyes

Save it save it save it
Don't say another word
If you don't hear her silent battle cries 

Save it save it save it
Don't say another word
She killed her father to see the sun


Save it save it save it
Don't say another word
She's every girl with justice in a gun

_____________________________________

 

As the song ends, the singer screams:

"WOMEN DON'T STAY SILENT FOREVER!"

The band rumbles and so does the audience. You close your eyes and take a long deep breath. And as you do, you hear a comforting piece of music. It sounds familiar. Then the singer speaks again:

"Not everyone can handle the truth. Thank you for staying. Performing for you has given me something. I hope it has given you something too. If we hold onto it not just today but for the rest of our lives, it will make a difference. Thank you!"

The audience reaches a fever pitch. And as the noise begins to fade, the next song begins.

SONG #9: HEY YOU (REPRISED)

You and I, we're here tonight
Diamonds dancing in t
he light
Rainbow colors everywhere
It's a cosmic love affair


You and I, let's raise some hell
Wave your wand, weave your spell
You are here where you belong
So raise your hands and sing along


Don't you wanna go beyond the realm of time
Take my hand, don't look behind
Close your eyes and you will see
You're exactly where you need to be


Hey you
I see the fire in your eyes
Hey you
Oh how my spirit sighs

Hey you
Let's go, paint the skies
Fall in love, fall in love tonight


You and I, we're here tonight
I can see you in the light
Just hold my gaze with a stare
Make me feel like a billionaire


You and I, my-oh-my
Listen baby, I don't lie

It's for you I wrote this song

Raise your hands and sing along


Don't you wanna go beyond this dance
We'll never know if we  don't give us a chance
Cupid has been taking aim
Venus and Mars, they'll take the blame 

Just look at me now, set me aflame

 

YEAH YEAH YEAH

Hey you
I see the fire in your eyes
Hey you
Oh how my spirit sighs
Hey you
Let's go, paint the skies
Fall in love, fall in love

Fall in love, fall in love tonight


You're the dream
That I've always seen
How can I not...
Be so mesmerized
By the fire in your eyes
How can I not...


You're the dream
That I've always seen
How can I not...
Be so mesmerized
By the fire in your eyes
How can I not...

Fall in love with you tonight

_____________________________________

 

Same song. Same words. But slower. This time, it's emotional. Then the band kneels. The audience applauds. And the lights fade to black. 

 On your way home, you think about all the fun you had. Then you think about the flat tyre, the crazy boss, and the one who refused to come with you. The contrast is cruel. So you close your eyes and take a long deep breath. And as you do, you hear a motherly voice whisper these comforting words:

"Tension mat le. Sab theek ho jayega."

("Don't worry. Everything will be alright.")

SONG #1: MUMBAI
SONG #2: I AM A BILLIONAIRE
SONG #3: SILVER LINING
SONG #4: HEY YOU
SONG #5: STILL SHINING
SONG #6: BRING IT ON
SONG #7: HARE RAMA HARE KRISHNA
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SONG #8: POSTER GIRL
SONG #9: HEY YOU (REPRISED)
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