Wednesday, February 11, 2009
A Tale of two cities
Ok, I’d like to clear out a few things first. This is not one of those clichéd Delhi vs Mumbai comparisons. I think that each city has its own distinct character and to compare one great city with another is unfair since it will never be on an even keel. Through this post I just want to give my perspective on living in these two wonderful cities, each with its own peculiarities, cultures and diversity.
To set the record straight, I’m not much of a Delhiite. I’ve just stayed here for 2 yrs, 2003- 2005 completing my 11th and 12th from DPS. True, my parents have been here since 2003 and my holidays have always been spent in Delhi giving me a chance to explore the city but not enough to call myself a pukka Delhiite. On the other hand, this is my fourth year in Mumbai and it’s enough to make me fall in love with it.
The first thing that strikes you when you come to Mumbai for the first time is not its filth, not even the sea, but PEOPLE, lakhs and lakhs of them, rushing at you from every possible direction, making you feel lost in a sea of humanity. Mumbai is perpetually crowded, be it the trains, the roads, the buses, be it 8 a.m. in the morning or midnight, it’s truly the city that never sleeps. But this is also Mumbai’s strength, its cosmopolitan nature, attracting people from all over the country; a land of opportunities where people come with dreams in their hearts and often achieve them.
Delhi attracts people mostly from North India and the East. The majority of the population is Punjabi hence the Punjabi twang in the accent of most Delhiites. On the other hand, Mumbai especially the Andheri- Vile Parle area, where my college is located is majorly populated with Gujaratis. In fact, in spite of being in Maharashtra, it seems that Gujarati is spoken more than Marathi in Mumbai though Hindi is the universal language in both these cities.
I’ve always loved cities by the sea and Mumbai’s no exception. There’s something special about these cities, like the cool, soothing sea breeze that hits you, invigorating and refreshing your mind and body. Going to South Bombay and spending time at Marine drive is something special, something that never be experienced in a land locked city like Delhi.
Another feature of Delhi are its smooth, wide, tree lined roads which make driving a pleasure and now we’ve also got the World class Delhi Metro which promises a comfortable safe and fast ride through the city. But nothing can beat Mumbai’s lifeline, the local trains which despite being dirty and overcrowded, have a legendary reputation of timeliness and reliability. A system working flawlessly without any major accidents since 50 years never ceases to amaze me.
No mention of Delhi can be complete without its food. From Delicious Punjabi fare to mouth watering chats and paranthas, Delhi’s got it all. The heart of the culinary experience is old Delhi with its old bazaars and congested lanes, a complete contrast to the rest of the city and of course Chandni Chowk with its famous paranthe wali gali.
Staying in Mumbai, I do miss Delhi’s winter a lot, those chilly days when the sun didn’t emerge for days together and that white envelope of fog, so thick that sometimes you couldn’t even see the person in front of you!!.
And Mumbai’s unending monsoons. Though I love the rains, the water logging and traffic jams that have become a regular feature since the deluge of 2005 do play spoilsport and dampen the beauty of the rainy season.