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Yeh Hai Bombay, Meri Jaan!

Actor, model and founder partner Spice with Sam, Sampada is an avid reader, happy traveller and a dog lover. Sampada is also a recipient of an award for cultural achievement from Hon (former) Chief Minister of Maharashtra Manohar Joshi. Through Spice With Sam she brings to us an insider perspective of the fashion and entertainment industry along with the latest in the world of health and wellness. She currently lives in Mumbai.

"I am back in Maximum City. Whew! Unpacking my bags, I was racking my brains for my very first editorial for Spice With Sam. It struck me that I should talk about something which forms part of my core. What could possibly be a more important part of my core than my Karmbhoomi-the city where I have lived all my adult life and the city that has taught me almost everything I know?

I wasn’t born in Bombay. As an Army child I lived all over North India during my childhood. I am a Maharashtrian but only completed my higher studies in this state. So if I had to talk about something which is part of my essence it would be Mumbai. It has taught me my work ethic, it has taught me how to live alone and how to form bonds stronger even than family. It’s a city where you can find the beautiful and the richest people in the country and a city that also knows how to keep it real. It’s a city that has survived the ‘93 Riots, the bombing of the Bombay Stock Exchange and the terror attacks of 26/11 and more recently the July floods. This is the city that has the world's most expensive house (Antilla) as well as Asia’s largest slum. We have Bollywood and we are the financial capital of India too. I could go on but you get the drift.

As much as I try, I can never perfectly describe it. Bombay is hard, it’s fast, it’s all giving and all forgiving too. Bombay has seen my journey from a naive 22 year old business school graduate who came here to work in a multinational company to the highs of being one of the top television models and then one of the most highly paid TV actresses too. It saw me when I married a Bombayite and was by my side when I got divorced. It saw me at my highest highs in life and it accepted me back after my lowest lows.

I came here very reluctantly since I didn’t like the city then and had never lived away from my parents. I took Bombay for granted as I shifted from my hometown at Pune-at the time never realising the depth that this City of Dreams had. I worked at the fancy Express Towers at Nariman Point (which at that time housed some of the top MNC’s which had entered India) After that I moved to Bandra-where I shared a bungalow accommodation with nine other girls and then from there to shared apartments and to finally buying my own house (a dream of anyone who is an immigrant to Bombay). In all this time I can truly claim to have witnessed all aspects of Bombay.

I’ve met aspiring actors (who have come here with hardly anything in their pockets...just enough to live bare minimum for a few months) and I’ve met many many entitled rich-kids from all areas of life. I’ve seen many ups and downs since I was here during the nationwide Covid lockdown of 2020 and I have seen the highs.

I’ve met good people and not so-good-people and have made friendships that will last me for life. I have learnt what professionalism is and to never take anything for granted.

In this city the rents are exorbitant, the people are beautiful and the con-men are more likely to be in fancy cars than on the streets. This is the city where you can find beggars who are millionaires but also the city where you are told that if you don’t hack it in the first year you never will. This is the city which is accurately reflected in most Bollywood movies-people coming from nothing and making it big. This is as much a reality as is people coming in search of the glitz and glamour and getting dragged into the underbelly of the city .

To sum it all up, Bombay (when I came here it was still Bombay) is a city like no other in India. It’s the only Indian city I have seen where a woman is safe to take public transport late at night, where even the common man on the streets respects you as a “working woman” and a city that rewards you for the hard work you put in if you have the talent (and some luck).

I am back after almost a year of being away (unintentionally-but that’s a story for another time) and I couldn’t be happier to be back.

Thank you for everything, Bombay. I missed you!"

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