The Ninjas are in your city, all around you, going about their business, quietly, just like ninjas do. Their purpose, their mission, is to get under the skin of this city and to uncover stories that make Mumbai unique. Here at Discovering Mumbai, we are always excited about meeting people, just like us, who are wandering, exploring every nook and cranny of this mystical city and coming up with stories that celebrate the spirit of Mumbai. We were lucky enough to bump into the ninja, who started this ninja institute, a website actually, by the name ‘City Ninjas’. Here is the story of Anisha Sharma, an extremely passionate Mumbaikar and founder of City Ninjas.
City Ninjas was the idea of Anisha Sharma, all of 24, born and brought up here in the city. She holds a degree in Political Science from St. Xavier’s College and a MA in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Sheffield. Anisha returned to her home in 2011 and since then she has been involved in harnessing the power of digital media to promote art and culture. “The idea came to me some months after I quit my last job. I’d spent some time traveling around Europe. I was always the kind of person who liked to experience a city, more than hop from one tourist destination to another,” says Anisha. She realised that Mumbai didn’t have something similar and that’s when she decided to start City Ninjas.
“City Ninjas is a website that celebrates every little thing that makes Mumbai special,” says Anisha. It is about the people, the nooks and crannies, about everything that makes this maddening, traffic choked, and awe-inspiring city so important to us. City Ninjas showcases the diversity of the city through written columns, original video content and photo essays. “Something that looks below the surface of the city—just like a ninja,” she says. The site differentiates itself from the horde of websites which talk about Mumbai, by being about the personal experiences and the different characters that represent Mumbaikars. It is a far cry from these sites which are just about reviews of places and quick lists on the city. It is a refreshing, fun and quirky haven for everything Mumbai.
Anisha’s faithful legion of friends supported her all the way in setting up her dream project. From the most critical things to the minutest details like choosing a font, her friends were always there for her. “My family keeps brainstorming on Twitter hashtags I should use—it’s the cutest thing. They actually came up with #ShutterbugNinjas!” says Anisha. Along the way there were the usual challenges and lots of crises of faith, but thanks to the overwhelming support of her friends and family, all the mountains of challenges were surmounted. “I feel really lucky to know such wonderful people—it’s what keeps me going!” says Anisha.
|Anisha Sharma, founder 'City Ninjas'|
The project, though still in its early days, has given Anisha numerous memories to cherish. “The day I got the final logo for City Ninjas, I almost didn’t want to share it with the world because it was so cute!” says Anisha. Every single investment that she has made in the project has become a memory to cherish for her. Buying a whiteboard, her first investment, was an extremely emotional moment. So excited she was, that she whatsapped people saying “So it begins!” She has also had her fair share of bitter moments, like criticism on Twitter, or a mean comment on the website. “Every little negative word cuts deep, and hurts, because this is like my baby and I’m extremely protective about it,” she says. She is open to criticism so long as it is constructive.
Working on City Ninjas has been a very valuable lesson for Anisha, both on the personal and professional fronts. “Professionally, it’s been a whirlwind—being your own boss is a blessing and a curse,” says Anisha. One tends to think that they will have all the free time in the world, but soon you realize that you are working 24x7! On the personal front, the project has helped her get connected with wonderful people, who supported her in the process of setting up City Ninjas. However, City Ninjas is nascent; and a long journey lies ahead, “I know there’s so much more to learn, and I can’t wait!”
So what can we look forward to in 2013 from City Ninjas? “I plan to only make City Ninjas bigger and better—I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeve, and can’t wait to get the ball rolling,” says Anisha. So involved she is in the project, that now there is no boundary separating the two, “I don’t think there’s much of a distinction anymore—I am City Ninjas, and it’s me.” So sit back and let the ninjas bring you stories of Mumbai that will leave you wanting for more.