What is about Mumbai that is so different from the rest of the cities in India? Is it just a worldly image created by Bollywood, or is it really, like the people of Mumbai keep referring to, a city of dreams? Earlier I used to dismiss the argument as a useless one since, I, for one, hated this city. Close to a year now and still the feeling has shifted only from intolerable to somewhat bearable… Mind you, there is nothing particularly wrong with Mumbai for it is very similar to most of the Indian metros that I have visited in the general aspects. But when I came here, I left behind a place full of memories….the city that has given me everything-my personality, strength, freedom and beyond all that, a bunch of friends that is irreplaceable.
Every day I encounter an argument with my colleagues, that usually takes the same pattern. A couple of us on one side defending my home turf that is Delhi and a bunch of others supporting Mumbai. (There are a few in support of other metros as well but they are a minority and generally lose out!!!) Though the argument is unfounded and baseless, it at least triggered a thought in the line of whether one of these two cities is actually better than the other. The love affair with Delhi is like a predictable story…a comfortable companion that you have grown up with, the city has a charm and a force about it that is so magnetic that it is a pride in calling yourself a tough-to-handle, “I don’t care” attitude Delhiite!!! This is an obvious side of the story. But the hatred for Mumbai…well, that is biased for sure! Biased from the mindset that a place that does not have your family and friends is unacceptable as a place worth living….
From the outside, Mumbai just looks like a crowded city, with an enormous cost of living, where the density of population is increasing at an astronomical speed given that a small village size of people get added to this city everyday. As a friend of mine pointed out to me today, it is a city that has welcomed so many strangers with outstretched arms, that has made so many dreams come alive and that teaches you how to be someone on your own. The people here do not care for their neighbours; well… they don’t even know who their neighbours are!!! Because everyone is so busy running after a wild goose chase, trying to make their destiny that it becomes a crime to waste your time on socializing, specially when there is no personal gain out of it!
But is all this the fault of Mumbai? Is this the Mumbai culture? Apparently not! Take a few steps back and look at the people running that frenzied race… They are the same kind of people as I am… the people who chose Mumbai to build a career in this city and while doing so left their beloved homes. All of us have a shared hatred for this city just because it’s not our home and we take the frustration out by not wanting to mix with the people whose only sin is apparently that they are not from your city!!! So, this culture of selfishness is built by the refugees who have come here. The real Mumbai still lives the same way as every other city. This city has actually been generous enough to allow the people from across the country to come here, get a life, learn to live, and then spoil its culture and reputation as well! This generosity is in turn being viewed as degradation of social norms!!!! What an irony that is….
Just take a walk along the Marine Drive at 2AM in the night looking at the lights that are often referred to as queen’s necklace… Just keep watching the waves that hit the rocks on the Nariman Point… Just stand near the Land’s end in Bandra and look at the sea link… And you would realize that it is indeed a city of hopes… At least I did!