[Warning: Longish Post. Sorry rahega.]
BOMBAY (12 Mar) Living in Delhi for 9 years and in Bombay for almost 2 has made me an expert in the hot emerging area of "city-comparison", according to people. Everywhere I go, I am swarmed with hordes of strangers who think that asking a Delhi vs Bombay question is a helluva icebreaker, which is really good because otherwise they would ask embarassing questions like "Is your wife in Bombay too?" (No such entity), and "How is your PhD?" (Excruciatingly slow). This post is dedicated to such noble creatures. I present some sample conversations; the dialogues marked "Them" are real, and the ones marked "Me" are the ones I would have really liked to make:
Them: Wow! Bombay eh? City of dreams? Bollywood-Shollywood eh? How many film stars have you seen?
Me: Oh I see them all the time. Living in an IIT hostel sure has its perks you see. My next door neighbour is Abhishek Bachchan, and I can hear him making threatening phone calls to the tree that Aishwarya married.
Them: Oh stop kidding! So tell me, have you witnessed any gangster shootouts there?
Me: Yes why not. I moonlight as a country liquor merchant in Dharavi and have shot a few non-paying customers myself. Ram Gopal Varma is dead-right about this gangster thingie. Everyone in Bombay is shooting either a film or a fellow gangster. Infact, Mumbai police provides every resident
with a revolver for self-defense.
Them: So how do you find Bombay as compared to Delhi?
Me: I will mail you a 500-word laminated report, so you can read my expert opinions at your leisure.
Them: DELHI!! SAHI HAI OYE, BALLE BALLE!!
Them: Balle Balle ummmm.
Me: I am waiting for the question.
Them: Oh I thought you are a Punjabi, aren't you?
Me: Yes, all Delhites are required by law to be Punjabi. Infact people from any other races are shot on sight. I, however, have Haryanvi roots.
Them: Still, its the same thing na?
Me: Yes, as interchangeable as Gujju and Marathi.
Them: I see. So you must have found Bombay culturally very....whats the word for it...different. Isn't it?
Me: Yes, at first I couldn't put my finger on it, but after a few months, I realized that I am in a different city.
Them: Yaar, Bombay girls are very easy going na? I mean not like these god-awful Delhi girls.
Me: My easy academic life has given me plenty of chances to talk to plenty of girls (three in all). One of them switched teams after talking to me, another one put her matrimonial plans on the fast track, and the third one refused to return my calls. So I have no conclusions.
Them: No, but its true na that Bombay girls don't refuse if you ask them for a dance, they flirt back, and are generally looking for a "good time". (This is usually accompanied by a wink, or if I am lucky, a nudge in the elbow, or both.)
Me: Well I don't know about that because I am usually denied stag entry in the clubs and paying a hefty cover charge is against my second principle. (My first principle is that a beer-night should never go by sober). And I think if I try to flirt with a girl, she will most probably interpret it as the initiation of a possible molestation.
Them: So how would you rate the girls in the two cities?
Me: You are not listening. My policy is that be it Delhi or Bombay, I don't bug the girls and they don't bug me. Until the time for marriage comes, when I will choose exactly one girl to bug for the rest of her life (or mine, whichever is shorter).
Them: Cool man! You live in Delhi. There are a lot of parks and stuff na?
Me: Yes, every house has a lawn, including my first floor flat.
Them: And there are a lot of cars too, right?
Me: Yes, Delhi is trying to beat Los Angeles in the cars per capita metric.
Them: And wide roads too!
Me: Sure that too. All roads in Delhi, including the bylanes and services lanes are twice the width of the Western Express Highway. And all Santros and Zens that are sold in Delhi are as wide as an ATR airplane. We sure have it going on in Delhi.
Them: Yeah yeah! We Bombayites pay 1/3 of the taxes and you Delhites reap the benefits. Not fair!
Me: There are two ways to remove this disparity. Either Delhi pays as much tax as Bombay or vice versa. Which one do you think is more feasible?
In all fairness though, I would never have the guts to say all this, because like everyone, I too would hate to be beaten up. Frankly, for me, both the cities suck and rock equally. The "spirit of Mumbai" provides as much fodder for laughter as "dil waalo ki Delhi". Whats that you say? Bombay is safer for women, including at night? Well we are working towards correcting that pal. Everyday, hundreds of our brethren are descending in Bombay from exotic places like Etawah, Rohtak, Azamgarh, Munger and Darbhanga to cater to the eve-teasing needs of the women in Bombay.
So as far as the Delhi vs Bombay question is concerned, I will answer that as soon as I get my face out of the armpit of my co-passenger and get off this local. It will most probably be that I don't give a rat's behind.
I will leave you with a Bombay FAQ for now:
Q. When does a Bombay-man get an orgasm?
A. When he finds an empty seat on the Churchgate-Virar fast local during rush hour.
Q. How do you know where a particular Mumbai guy hails from?
A. Pick up a fight with him. If he yells at you continuously for 43 minutes, he is a Marathi. If he argues with you for 2 minutes and leaves for his office, he is a Gujju. If he bashes you up and gives you multiple fractures, he is a Sikh cab driver from Sion Koliwada. If he sends goons to beat you up, he is Bal Thackeray (a mutant sample of the Marathi population).
Q. What should I eat when I am in Bombay?
A. The food ordinance permits only Vada Pao and Dhokla. If tea must be partaken, it should be asked for in units of "cutting". Asking for just "ek chai" will make you look like a damn fool from Delhi.
Q. Why are Marathi food portions so small?
A. So that you have room for the main course -- Vada Pao and Dhokla.
Q. Can't I just drive to work everyday in Bombay?
A. Sure, if your office operates only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Q. REALLY!! Does it take ONE DAY to commute??
A. No. You will reach your office in three hours tops. But it will take you another fifteen to find a parking space.
Q. Where in Bombay, can I get, ummm..., you know, get physical with the ladies?
A. Try entering the ladies compartment of any local during rush hour. You will get more than you bargained for.
Monday, March 12, 2007
[Warning: Longish Post. Sorry rahega.]