Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities!!!!!

I have been in Bombay for the last 4 years and 9 months and have loved every moment that I have spent in the city. One cannot but help admire and respect the high energy levels Bombay has. I had yearned for years to be a part of this energy and am happy to be a part of it.

But increasingly, I, as any North Indian, have faced incessant comparisons that Bombayites do with Delhi. These comparisons often border contempt.

Sample this:

"Delhi people", a term, which is a term interchangeably used for North Indians, are arrogant, flashy, have an attitude and are ostentatious...
Delhi is a brash, uncouth, unfriendly, inhospitable city
Delhi neither has a culture nor a "character"
Delhi hides its dark underbelly

The list, is long, very very long. And surprisingly, these rants come from educated, well read, well travelled "liberals", who would claim to be open and rational.

What hypocrisy?

Delhi as a city has its own character. Let us not forget Delhi's attitude has been defined by the Punjabis who inhabited the city following the Partition of the country. We as, a community, faced what no one else faced in the rest of the country. (I have blogged about this nearly 8 months back in a blog titled Saluting the Punjabi Spirit.)

What we went through in 1947 had defined how Delhi had evolved, over the years. The homeless, penniless Delhiites, Punjabis, or North Indians of 1947 have slogged to achieve what they are today and they are proud of it. The result - we Punjabis or Delhiites live today to the fullest. This is what most Bombayites mistake for an attitude, arrogance or whatever. Shouldn't Delhites be proud of what they have achieved? Shouldn't the whole country, including Bombayites, be proud of us?

Delhi may seem to be brash, uncouth and unfriendly to a visitor. But there is more to it, that perhaps has never been explored. Hasn't Delhi fallen in line whenever it was required? Look at this - the Metro in Delhi is a grand success. Delhiites have respected the Metro they got and are extremely orderly while using it. But in Bombay, while the commuters crib about inadequate suburban trains, they have actually misused and damaged the modern rakes which were acquired under the MUTP scheme.

The "brash, uncouth and unfriendly" city of Delhi has had a decent prepaid taxi system working at the airport, railway stations and bus terminals for as many as 15 years now. But Bombay has not been able to get such a system running at all. Ever tried taking a taxi from Bombay airport or Bombay Central? I will bet a million on this. The probability of getting fleeced and facing an arrogant, aggressive cabbie will near 100%, while the police will be quiet onlooker!!!

We talk of Delhi not having a character. What c**p?

Take a round of Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk, Darya Ganj, Delhi University, the Mall. You will be inundated with oodles of culture and the so called character, you will find in Fort, Kotachiwadi, Girgaum, Tardeo, Bandra, etc. What's the difference, guys?

Delhi doesn't hide its dark underbelly. Delhi doesn't ghettoise communities. Who's more "advanced" and open in that sense?

Talking of style, anyone who has spent even a week in both the cities would realise that the style quotient on Delhi streets, among ordinary Delhiites is way higher than anywhere else, Bombay included.

These debates are endless, but ultimately pointless.

We, in Bombay, have to realise that both Bombay and Delhi are great cities, but complementary. These two cities do define what India is and will be, in the future, as a world superpower. India cannot be what it can without these two cities. Bombayites have to realise this and look at Delhi and Delhiites with an open mind and a wide open heart, the way Delhi welcomes Tamils, Bengalis, etc. etc..

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