A tale of 2 cities

It’s been a long-standing grudge for denizens of either city – Mumbai and Delhi – to begrudge the other’s characteristics, and the immediate provocation for writing about this long-standing inter-city feud is a chance meeting with a corporate executive last evening, someone I had met briefly in Delhi during the course of work.

The question inevitably came – was I liking Mumbai? Guess most people assume that shifting base from Delhi to Mumbai means a great deal of hardship for the so-called pampered Delhi-ites. Mumbaikars do have that image of people from up north. They also feel that while they generate the most amount in taxes, it’s the national capital which reaps the benefits in the form of infrastructure such as wide open spaces, flyovers, the metro and et al.

To be fair, I have not known of too many Delhi-ites who have taken a liking to Mumbai – most have endured it for a couple of years or slightly more before moving back. In fact, I remember a CEO of a well-known company whom I was meeting, telling me that he hated the city. Others have used the word dirty to describe it – the numerous slums that exist right next to sky-kissing residential towers certainly don’t help matters.

Mumbaikars of course have their own litany list against Delhi, not least of which is their grouse for being given short shrift despite being the country’s financial capital. However, the two most distinct differences that people cite between the two cities are:

a) Mumbai is more professional than Delhi

b) Mumbai is safer for women than Delhi

If one is just talking in relative, comparative terms, I would tend to agree. However, on stand-alone terms, I am not quite sure if Mumbai is better off.

This is my second stint in maximum city, and I have to say that I have managed to come across unprofessional people even in this city, not least of which are the real-estate brokers, the maids and even people from the corporate world. Not to say all are unprofessional – but then, neither are all those who live and reside in Delhi.

The maid for instance, the very epitome of Mumbai’s efficiency and professionalism. Known to come on time, finish her work without fuss and move on. Well, mine rarely comes on time for work, if and when she comes that is! And now, does not even care to inform.

The auto-rickshaw and cab drivers, who only need to be told the destination and will ply the route for you, now decide if they want a particular fare, especially if it is a short distance, say from Bandra to Mahim – most refuse to ply short distances.

Observing traffic rules: Jumping signals is a common occurrence, more so if it happens to be a busy junction. And no, giving a left or right turn indication is just too much bother – most just spin around without so much as a by your leave for the oncoming traffic. It’s a miracle you don’t get squashed and smashed by traffic headed your way while the auto-rickshaw driver pulls a Rajnikanth style stunt!

As regards safety of women, sure, this is still a city where even at 10pm a woman can get out of her office and hail a cab and have a greater chance of reaching home safe and sound than in Delhi, but the operative word is relative. Everyday I read about some or the other incident in newspapers – mine included – of some woman, girl or child being teased, molested or raped in the city. And these are not isolated incidents. Usually, there are a couple of such incidents on a daily basis – the only good thing is the hue and cry such incidents still cause, unlike in Delhi where most of us have become inured to such events. But for how long will this remain, is anyone’s guess.

I don’t even know what’s worse – the fact that people old enough to be grand-dads sexually molesting a pubescent teenager, incidents of which I have read in Mumbai’s dailies, or a male-egoist egged on by hormones gone wild forcing himself on an adult woman in the national capital, instances of which are quite a few.

The executive I met yesterday said sometimes she feels Delhi’s bad points are exaggerated – she herself hails from India’s north-east, and so can’t be accused of nursing a bias for being a born and brought up Delhi-ite. And those of us who hail from Delhi know just how we view and treat women from the north-east for them to naturally be suspicious of Delhi’s men. Despite that, the lady managed to retain her objectivity.

Yes, each city has its advantages, and disadvantages too. Whether one is good, or bad, or better or worse, I have not reached any conclusion, nor any judgement, and frankly, I don’t intend to. Am a journalist, not a judge. There are good people, and there are not-so-good people, and there are the downright scumbags, in every place that you go. Delhi and Mumbai are no different.

So here’s saying cheers to both – may you both exist and prosper individually and collectively and may you never get in each other’s cross-hairs!

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4 Responses to A tale of 2 cities

  1. Smriti says:

    Objectively written Tejeesh. After all it’s the same Indians residing in both the cities, so how can you see a stark difference in the two?

  2. tejeesh says:

    true, attitudes may differ but they differ person to person, not because of where you live

  3. Barun Jha says:

    Agree,, each city had its own version of good and bad, beautiful and ugly…It depends on you and your expectations from the place…
    Nice Post.. 🙂

    BTW.. I am not a city guy…but Bangalore tops on my list despite its cons… As professed by one of my design teacher…”when you like a city, it is not only the good things, but the garbage dumps, the stinking smell, the potholes roads, the congested lanes and its people as a package… you love them all”

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