Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Mumbai Diary – Why Delhi is Better than Bombay

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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Bombay

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.

Hello Bombay

Is Bombay Dying?

Bandra Bikers

Is Bombay Dying?

Art crowd at Jehangir Art Gallery

Is Bombay Dying?

Outside Jehangir Art Gallery

Is Bombay Dying?

At Samovar

Is Bombay Dying?

No Nusrat at the Rhythm House

Is Bombay Dying?

Waiting for the bus, Bandra

Is Bombay Dying?

In the bus, Mahim

Is Bombay Dying?

Tourists outside the Taj Mahal Hotel

Is Bombay Dying?

The Gateway of India from inside the Taj

Is Bombay Dying?

Inside the Taj

Is Bombay Dying?

Inside the Taj

Is Bombay Dying?

Inside the Taj

Is Bombay Dying?

Outside the Taj

Is Bombay Dying?

The Other Bombay-wallas

Is Bombay Dying?

Dreams of his father

Is Bombay Dying?

Once was Bombay

Bombay


15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice reading Mayank. I can see the lost city. I lived in Bombay during 1997-2000. It had already been renamed Mumbai, but it remained Bombay, I believe. Till then it was my fav city. Fast, professional, everybody meaning business. But most of all it was safe. We could come back to Colaba from a late night movie or theatre show from the Prithvi theatre without ever bothering about our safety. I used to hate Delhi then.

I probably still hate Delhi - not the city as such, but the public culture there. But Bomaby has deifinitely been taken over by the Shiv Sainiks. It's time to write an epitaph for it!

But wait, aren't wee losing all the liberal space we had? Look at Mangalore and Bangalore. I always looked at B'lore as that hep place that was closer to the west in its popular culture that the neighboring towns. Look at it now, where women get bashed up simply for wearing western clothes.

God, give us back our country!

Prasenjit

Rima Kaur said...

bombay was beautiful once.

Anonymous said...

Delhi still ROCKS!!!!

Syed said...

Mumbai is not that bombay as it was years back(i dont know how many..) and Delhi is not that delhi as it was years back. india is not that india as it was years back and World is not that world as it was years back...
sounds like an idiot but change is everywhere in every place in every person.
Crowd, crowd and more crowd. More wealth more greed. More Education more intolerance and more selfishness. More technology and more self-indulgence. More west.......

Anonymous said...

The world looks as you want to look at it. I think that u frm the beginning hated Mumbai nd u jus pasted some weird reasons to justify ur abhorrence. There is nthg wrong abt hating a place but ur not gettin Nusrat's CD nd thereby jumpin 2 conclusion that Mumbai no longer welcomes Pakistanis seems a little far fetched.
These small things are nt the yardstick on which u measure the sensibilities of a city like Mumbai.

Ajit said...

I'm flying back to my village Delhi. There they don't ban Pakistani artists.

Not that I'm Mumbai's greatest fan but we in the political capital could learn a thing or two from the commercial hub... :-)

Munna on the run said...

Mumbai and Delhi.
The reply to this thread would have gotten too long. Here is something about Mumbai that perhaps best expresses my feelings:

http://www.munnaontherun.com/2008/08/mumbai.html

Wonder what you woud think about it?

Anonymous said...

The day someone close to you will get killed by Pakistanis, then you will realize the pain of the Indians who have grown wary of Pakistanis. It’s easy being judgmental and biased towards Indians on your blog knowing Pakistanis read it, Mr. Hypocrite! Since you have been to Pakistan, you must know what Pakistanis think of India and Indians.

Post this comment if you have the guts!

Anonymous said...

Most in delhi have had a cousin who suffered during the partition. So dont talk about Mumbai knowling more about Pakistan and people losing loved ones to terror attacks.

Many more attacks happened in Delhi..infact 10 time more have happened on Lahore and no one talks about the spirit of Lahore or Delhi....you know why not?....

Because its normal to return to work after a bad event. Post 9-11, people still worked in that area and it was 20 times bigger event than 26/11.

Spill a few more drops of blood and then complain...North has borne the brunt of wars...take a few blows...

Anonymous said...

yeh author chootiya hai ekdum. he is saying mumbai is not good coz mumbai doesnt sale a pakistani artist's music album. ha ha ha ha. delhi ke chootiye hamesha mumbai se compare karne me lage rehte hain.

Makaveli said...

I agree, its only the people from Delhi that have a tendency to compare Delhi with Mumbai. I guess that just shows a sense of insecurity that they suffer from. For all its faults, Mumbai has always been and still is the most prosperous and tolerant city in India (not to mention just plain COOL). Unlike Delhi, that has mostly Punjabi population (that thinks too highly of itself, for no reason) and hardly any tolerance towards people from other states. And by the way, just making a judgement on a whole city because you couldn't find a Pakistani singers CD is just stupid. I can find so many faults with this piece of writing, but I just don't want to spend any more time on it. You have the right to like or dislike any thing or place, no matter how stupid the reasons may be.

Rima Kaur said...

to the person above me, i was born and brought up in bombay and half my friends belong to that city. they initiate comparisons between the two cities too, so to say that only delhiites do that is wrong.

i personally love both cities equally, but since i stay in delhi at the moment, i have a softer corner for it.

Anonymous said...

well said(d person above)..however i feel what makes a city is not the infrastructure nor their changed names its the spirit of the people and their attitude that makes the difference, coming to Mumbai one learns to fight for onself but delhi teaches people to fight and forgive too.

sharlin said...

I am agree with the people said on this blog

Anonymous said...

I am in California and was recently invited by a Mumbaikar for dinner party and the minute he found I am from Delhi, he started throwing comparisons and how bad Delhi and Delhities are. This was really annoying and embarassing. Atleast in Delhi we wouldn't invite some one and insult. Anyway this helped me form my first impression about how rich Marathi culture is and how Mumbaikars behave.