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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Delhi Vs Mumbai

Wait! Why not just celebrate what’s best in each city?

Have you noticed how any conversation about how much you love living in Delhi or working in Mumbai invariably degenerates into a Delhi vs Mumbai slanging match. The Delhi folks turn their noses up at the dirt and slush of Mumbai (seriously, what is that smell?). The Mumbai loyalists hold forth on how Delhi has no heart and no time for those with no money or power. Team Delhi sneers about how Mumbai is routinely held to ransom by the Marathi manoos brigade. Team Mumbai scoffs at how Delhi judges you by where you live and what car you drive. Delhi points at the south Bombay snobs and giggles. Mumbai tosses its head and says that at least women are safe in their city (unlike Delhi, which is the rape capital of the country). And thus it goes.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been inveigled into such conversations (okay, fights, if you insist) despite trying my best to stay out of this my-city-is-better-than-yours debate. But last week, as Delhi celebrated 100 years of being declared the capital of India, I found myself being sucked into that very maelstrom. Tweeting about what I loved about the city with the hashtag #ilovedelhi, I found myself floundering in a sea of Mumbai vs Delhi-type responses.

It didn’t matter that I wasn’t tweeting about Mumbai at all but merely detailing what I loved about Delhi. I still got jumped on by Team Mumbai, who insisted on telling me why their city was so much superior. Then Team Delhi got into the act to thumb their noses at Mumbai. And soon a full-scale war was in progress.

I withdrew from the fray, battered by the negativity and a bit bemused by all the angst. Honestly, is it really necessary to knock one city if you want to praise another? Does loving Delhi mean that you must hate Mumbai – and vice versa? I really don’t see why this should be so.

So, here’s a novel idea for all you Delhiites and Mumbaikars to try this week. Instead of running each other down let’s try and celebrate what is best about both cities. Just for a change, let’s list what we like about each other’s city instead of just focusing on what we despise.

Having spent time in both Delhi and Mumbai, I thought I would have a bash at that as well. So, here’s my own list of what I love about both Delhi and Mumbai. Read on, and then do get working on yours.

1) Delhi: The seasons. That’s probably the best part of living in the capital. You may sweat and fume and collapse in a puddle during the relentless summer but there’s always the absolutely fabulous winter to look forward to. The days get shorter, the mornings get foggier, the nights get downright chilly. But even as the sweaters and coats are pulled out of mothballs, the parks turn into a riot of colours, the picnic baskets come out of storage, and all of Delhi is out over the weekend basking in the mellow sunshine. What’s not to love?

Mumbai: The sea. However cramped and claustrophobic your apartment may be, the moment you drive by the seaside and watch the horizon expand before you, it is easy to understand why Mumbai is described as a city of endless possibilities. Walk on to the beach, let the water tickle your feet. Jog along the waterline if you’re feeling energetic. Or simply sit on the parapet at Marine Drive and let the rhythm of the waves take you over. Bliss.

2) Delhi: The food. No matter what your taste-buds crave, you can always find it in Delhi. Trawl the lanes of old Delhi for the best kebabs and kormas. Sample the wares of the delightfully-named Paranthewalli Gali. Try the chaat and gol-guppas at Bengali Market. Scoff down momos at Dilli Haat. Work your way through all the many cafes in Khan Market, eating everything from Thai to Chinese to Italian food. And if you’re in the mood to spend, then treat yourself to the biryani and raan at Dum Pukht or a slap-up meal at Set’z.

Mumbai: The food. My personal favourite is Gajalee, where the fattest crabs lay down their lives so that we can have a great meal, though others swear by Trishna. Try the chaat at Swati, the vada-pao at Jumbo or just sample the wares at the many street food stalls on Juhu beach or Chowpatty. Have afternoon tea with bhel at the Taj’s Sea Lounge when you feel like treating yourself. Chill out at Olive or Indigo Deli. Feast on biryani at Zaffran’s and then stop by at Haji Ali for a tall glass of refreshing juice.

3) And then, there are the people. Don’t fall for all the nonsense about how Delhi people are cold and heartless. Or about how Mumbaikars are too busy to make time for a social life. At the end of the day, people are just people no matter which city they live in. And while every city has its share of misanthropes, you will always find like-minded people if you open your hearts to them. I did – and what do you know? Both Delhi and Mumbai opened their hearts to me as well.


Ramesh said...

You've pretty much summed up about both these metros in the very 1st para. Yes, I too have lived in both Delhi and Mumbai, so can relate to certain distinct features they possess. Strangely, both cities have something in common - neither has a distinct cuisine which they can call theirs. The closest Mumbai can stake its claim to is the ubiquitous vada pav. Delhi seems to be a melting pot for all Indian cuisines, dominated by those from the North though.
Somehow, I have observed that those from Delhi never seem to like Mumbai, and vice versa. I wish Delhi would give up its snobbery and crimes against women, while Mumbai would shed its devil-may-care attitude towards others, particularly those in distress.

~Hamsini~ said...

You could do one on the Delhi/Kolkata debate. Sick and tired of listening to my Delhiite peers rant about how they 'hate' Calcutta.