The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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The great city has grown less great.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla went to Bombay and felt like a villager. In this city, the traffic moves faster, the local trains chug faster, the people walk faster. The skyscrapers, too, are taller.
While Delhi's Rajpath is a hush-hush stretch of trimmed grass, pruned trees, police barricades, Marine Drive with its reclaimed land, high-rises, rush hour traffic is a testament to the materialistic world's enterprise.
In Bombay, I went to the old wing of the Taj hotel, the site of the 2008 terror attack, and brushed shoulders with film stars' wives. In Jehangir Art Gallery, I had butter chicken in its legendary Café Samovar, the lunch adda of M F Hussain. In the cobbled Catholic quarters of Bandra West, I eavesdropped on Mendelessohn's Hebrides Overture, not AR Rahman's Jai Ho, coming out from the bungalow windows. I also took a car-ride on Marine Drive where autos are not allowed.
It was while breathing in Nariman Point's salty, wet air that I wished to be a Bombayite. Grown tired of tombs, kings, Sufis of Delhi, I wanted to get on a high in Bom Bayya new-world energy.
Later that afternoon I stepped inside Rhythm House, the landmark music store in South Bombay, said to be South Asia's finest. It was solid, intensive, impressive as old institutions usually are. However, when I enquired about the CDs of Pakistani qawwal Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the shop assistant said, "We've stopped keeping Pakistanis.” After the terror attack in December, 2009, the city, the shop assistant said, has grown wary of Pakistanis.
Surprised, I next went to Haji Ali where I looked down at fishermen's boats on the Arabian Sea and mourned the shrinking of Bombay's costal cosmopolitanism. Rhythm House had played a vital role in bringing the music of Pakistanis like Ghulam Ali Khan and Mehdi Hasan to Indians. Once it was the only place in India to stock LPs of their ghazals.
But a friend advised me not to be judgmental. He said that Nusrat could be found in the city's other stores. That Rhythm House was forced to remove Pakistani musicians because it was attacked by Shiv Sena, the Bombay-based political party that uses violence. The friend said that things haven't yet grown that ugly in the whole city.
That may be but it is also true that Bombay is fast rolling into Mumbai. Victoria Terminus has already been renamed after Chhatrapati Shivaji. Soon the last of the frock-wearing, umbrella-carrying Christian ladies of Bandra will die and be buried under the city's soil. The elegant stone buildings of Kala Ghoda, too, will lose their cultural influence and become just a bunch of soulless monuments. The leftover Parsis of Dadar's Parsi Colony are anyway destined to disappear. Once Colaba's Leopold Café is renamed Lata Mangeshkar Café, Bombay will be history.
So Mumbai, while you gloat over your Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Mukesh Ambani, Chowpatty, Bhel Puri, Taj Mahal Hotel, I'm flying back to my village Delhi. There they don't ban Pakistani artists. There they let autos drive everywhere, right upto the Presidential Palace.
Art crowd at Jehangir Art Gallery
Outside Jehangir Art Gallery
No Nusrat at the Rhythm House
Waiting for the bus, Bandra
In the bus, Mahim
Tourists outside the Taj Mahal Hotel
The Gateway of India from inside the Taj
Inside the Taj
Inside the Taj
Inside the Taj
Outside the Taj
The Other Bombay-wallas
Dreams of his father
Once was Bombay