Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Delhi vs. Mumbai

This entire Delhi vs. Mumbai… rather Mumbai vs. Delhi (have I already given it away ;) debate started playing in my mind when a dear friend visited me from Delhi. She got exasperated by the Mumbai traffic. Com’on… at least the traffic is moving, unlike your darling Delhi traffic. Plus it is difficult to explain to the uninitiated that we are crossing from west to east!!! Not that she would either understand or appreciate. She is a Delhiite you see! This, plus her comment about the slush outside my plush housing complex got my goat! As always, let me now start with the basic clarification – I am married to a dilliwala and have stayed for almost 7 years in Delhi. And hence will try and not make this an us vs. them piece. Will also steer clear of the usual suspects – the season, the sea, safety, Bollywood vs. politicos Things that hit me the first time I stepped into Mumbai: The varied smell every 100 mts which are so distinct yet are a melange of fishy-garlicky-garbagy-stale dampness; The heavy air and mund-hee-mund everywhere. Delhi: The “stares” rather the “ogling”! The first timers may get taken aback by so much of “appreciation”! HA! My food world exponentially expanded in Mumbai. No other city in India can match the exhilarating choices that Mumbai has to offer to a foodie. The best part being that the choices come for every pocket size and without any pretentions. The Calcutta roll might have been the only missing piece from the food maps of Mumbai but now with multiple outlets of Hangla’s that too has been taken care off. Should write about the varied choices of Mumbai food life sometime else. Let me just share an ironic nugget – the best mumbaiah street food are made by the ‘bhaiyyas’! And is many notches below the Kolkata street food… how can something called pani-puri match upto the character of a phhuchkaa! Delhi: Hmmm… let me see how I can do justice to the Delhi food (dare you call it a cuisine!) Rajma-chawal, Kadhi-Chawal, Chole-chawal/kulcha/Paneer… oh wait… clubbing paneer here might be considered a pure blasphemy by the other side of my family!!! Should hand over to Delhi for the sheer variety of parathas (the stuffing changes, masala doesn’t ;), paneer preps (name changes, ingredients don’t) and masalas. I have a take on the ‘masala’ culture of Delhi. The ‘masala’ overpowers the rawness / freshness of the food and leaves an aftertaste difficult to forget! Mumbai lets you be. Our car has not had a single scratch in the last 12 years we have been here. I don’t have to bother about someone shoving past me and getting to the ticket counter. It does have that ‘pada’ culture of Kolkata but with a clock-work precision. I don’t have to think / over-think ways and means to add spice / tadka / masala (please put two and two together… ) to my life, ‘cause a mumbaiite does not bother. On the other hand, they are always there at hours of need. My personal experience has been that they don’t hang around after the good deed and feel ho-hum about it. Delhi doesn’t let you be. You need to be always on your toes, right from the choice of fabric, which market / boutique bought from (of course it matters big time… you silly), shade of the lipstick, inches in your heels to which school your child goes to! They feel sorry for you all the time and are careful to point that out in many different and direct (!) ways to you. This is something which gets so beautifully espoused at a movie theatre. The Mumbai cinema goers will react openly with big guffaws, oohs, profess their love for Hermione but let Ritiesh Deshmukh and Genelia enjoy a cosy evening out! Has been ages since I have been to a Delhi theatre… but nah… this can’t really be the case in Delhi! The evening gown takes an altogether different proportion, an epic one, in Mumbai. And nope am not referring to those designer / glittering ones. These are those one-size-too-large and two-inches-too-long and should be hitched up by flick of three fingers and are donned by everyone in the evening while buying “bhaaji” or while taking an evening stroll with the next door mulgi and they add to the desiness quotient of Mumbai. My mom used to call them housecoats! Talking of desiness – here also Mumbai scores over Delhi. Parks called nana-nani park, restaurant which clarifies its “ani” bar, the choc-o-block festival line up which starts with the humungous Ganpati festival and ends with Holi. I wonder, if it would not have been exam time, Mumbai would have continued... One area where Delhi will always have the upper hand is after-school education, and by that I mean education after class 10, you perverts! In my world Dr Singhs, Arun Mairas and Educationists win hands down compared to John Abrahams, Boman Iranis and 2nd-cousins-from-the-left of the filmy / ad-world crowd. I wish this Mumbai vs. Delhi debate would have been more on the lines of who is better or rather worse - a Thulla or a Pandu… But afterall, you would hardly find a Mumbaiite who after staying in Delhi would say that Delhi grows on you. And believe me Mumbai does!