Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bombay City

Here is what I have come to realize about Bombay in my three years of stay and four years of long distance relationship with the city:

1. They forget to build drains but crib whenever it rains. My guess is the city drains have been shut by a cartel involving all TV channels which get 3 days worth of content every year

2. They build houses that look like matchboxes meant to store prisoners before they are shipped off to Siberia . They can never remember that small space does not translate to nil aesthetics

3. They have zero sense of cleanliness. Which other city do you find people spitting at will on the road, on the stairwell, on other people? And staying in buildings so filthy you need a TT shot just to look at them.

4. They love narrow roads and pollution and come up with weird ideas on what to do in your travel time. I mean, what about the basic question – why would I want to travel so much?

5. They come up with logical explanations on the city being too narrow to accommodate everyone close to their offices, hence the travel time. But the actual idea of building a bridge from new Bombay to south Bombay is too much for them to handle.

6. If they do build a bridge, they are fastidious about getting it right and don’t mind taking their time over it. Look at the Worli-Bandra Link

7. They hate the sunlight and air circulation. That is why they build tall skyscrapers everywhere. Even if some mill lands get freed up, they talk about building parks but that is just to stretch an illusion about their love for nature. It has nothing to do with actual action

8. In fact, they dislike nature and like to obliterate any signs of it. So they build buildings on erstwhile rivers. The ones which are too large to be drained out, they simply kill. Like the fishless lake in Powai.

9. They love having their slums right by their doors so they can get their kick out of seeing how rich they have grown. No, other cities are not hypocrites for hiding away their slums. Their maid servants have slum housing boards or do a 2-hour commute if they stay far away.

10. Their love for fantasy is well known. All their bathrooms and toilets are built for hobbits. So what if humans have to hold their breadth, crouch and lose weight to squeeze into this space

11. Their public transport is the best in the world. Especially if you are young, aggressive and don’t mind F1 kind of accurate timings to jump in and out of trains. Just move somewhere once you grow too old for this.

12. They don’t mind buying a newspaper even if the only thing covered in its 13 page main section, 8 page supplement and the 4 page colour feature is Bollywood.

13. Their range of movies is simply breathtaking – right from Govinda to Bruce Willis. And obviously you are not a patriotic Indian if you want to watch some of the more offbeat foreign language movies

14. They can leverage themselves 10 times over to buy a 1000 sq feet house in the heart of the city with a view of the neighbours dilapidated flat and the pollution from the vehicles on the road wafting up and spend the rest of their lives paying back the debt. Their children will do the exact same thing, moving to a more up market location.

15. They can wait two hours to sit in restaurants around tiny tables with their elbows banging into strangers ordering food that costs half a month’s pay and think they lead a cool happening life

Sure they are super efficient. They have six sigma beating Dabbawallas, shops that are open till 11 in the night, service providers who can be at your house by 7 in the morning. But all so that the average Mumbaikar can be on the right side of sanity in a city waiting to push him over the edge. Still, their claim that they have resilience is definitely true. After all how many people can travel three hours a day in a hot, sweaty train, breathing in the toxic air of their co-passengers’ armpits, reach home too late to meet their kid and still have the energy to do it again, again and again. They need the resilience.

Anita B.


Rohini said...

What about the cross-country driving experience offered by the omnipresent potholes...

Manu said...

blah blah whine whine... why don't you leave the place? Perhaps you haven't been to Bangalore or Chennai recently. Perhaps some time in Delhi with its eve teasers will change your opinion.

Mumbai is for the rich and yet upper middle class downward everybody living there chooses to live there. The city is rife with opportunity. It is the place in India where fortunes can be made (legally) in a lifetime.

And for the record I was in Mumbai after eight years last week. The roads are better by orders of magnitude.

Avanti Sané said...

Absolutely agree!!!

Entropy said...

Hi Manu,
Totally agree with you - I love Mumbai and think it beats any other city in India hands down.

By the way, why don't you write something defending Bombay - more than one paragraph please. Need fitting reply to Anita's post.

Hi, welcome to our blog.


Anita said...

manu/ avanti - ah. the traditional defence of mumbai - shout from the rooftops of pigeonhole flats about its great ability to spin money. like that makes everything ok.

actually the city has other redeeming features - safest for women at night, helpful during crises, better water supply, excellent sense of time, most cosmopolitan set of people etc etc and must admit i quite like it. but having lived in different places realised mumbaikars are a bloody narrowminded lot who get hysterical at any instance of abuse about their city. even if it means not admitting to any problems which a city of its size and ambition faces. wake up. smell the drains. and do something.

rj said...

oh well, i am not defending my city or anything, but here goes

every city has its pluses and minuses let me just counter argue each and every of you points.

1.) Floods - name one major meteropolitan city that has got HALF as much rain as mumbai gets and NOT got flooded?

2.) we have over 2,00,000 people coming every day with dreams in their eyes of making it big, and no we are not talking about software professionals and biz whiz, but the aam junta so to say... where do you accomodate all of them?

this city has something for everyone... if the price is right... where you chose to stay is totally a personal choice

3.) alright this one cracked me not commenting on cleanliness.

4 & 5.) you obviously do not know much about the Mumbai geography.
Traditionally most of the offices were situated around the town area,

now offices are slowly spreading across the breadth and length of the city... and 1 hour of traveling time is what a person on an average spends in mumbai.. which city in india takes you from home to office in less than 30 minutes? would love to work in a place like that

6.) This i agree, but then its a problem which has spread in almost every nook and corner or the country.

7.) refer to point no.2

8.) this i agree too... we have zero regard for nature.

9.) This makes no sense, just mindless whinning.

10.) again a very personal thing, how can you generalize something like this man?

11.) agreed

12.) if you are talking about midday, it is all but burnt out completely from the market.. and just in case you didn't know.. mumbai has the highest number of subscribers for HBR, Economic Times , New york times and the likes.

13.) we have about a zillion movie clubs which show foriegn films every single week, i am a part of 3. saw city of god this weekend..
what you have said clearly reflects your ignorance.

14.) refer point 2

15.) i don't remember waiting for 2 hours ever in my life for a restaurant.. there are soooo many options i can just walk down to the next restaurant... oh yeah. but in bangalore i had to wait for 2 hours cos the next friggin restaurant was 10 kms away... and no, i did not feel that i was cool...

Entropy said...

Hi RJ,
Totally agree with you.

Any comments ?

I love argument, disagreement etc. :-)

Anita said...

Here goes

1. A city's drains are to be built in proportion to the rains they get. Mumbai gets good rains (no reference to the outlier last year) and its drains don't have the capactiy to handle expected rains. period. i agree though calcutta gets flooded more than bombay. but i think there are 100 better reasons than that why ppl may not want to stay in cal.

10. lol. ok am definitely not 7 ft and 140 kgs. so bathroom proportions is not a personal thing. in the 30 + houses i visited or stayed in, the bathrooms look like cubby holes. quite possible in some of the houses where the house owners stay, this is not a problem. but rental houses have really tiny bathrooms vis a vis rental houses in other cities.

12. how does it matter if max subscribers of ny times and hbr stay in bombay! my point is your largest selling daily which is read by the aam junta of bombay (and hence can be taken as a reasonable indicator of the overwhelming public taste of bombay) is times of india. need i say more?

13. ok this is a tricky one. i wanted to point out that mainstream multiplexes rarely play good foreign language movies (they do in some cities). but i guess it is just a crib since with effort access to those movies are there.

15. i am afraid there is only one way to settle this point. anytime you want to do an experiment of trying to get tables for dinner on saturday at 8.30 p.m., please let me know. a randomly selected restaurant with reasonable food and good ambience should serve the point just fine.

but these are just the finer points of living in bombay. the main question of aesthetically pleasing, comfortable accomodation at a reasonable distance from your work place is a challenge. yours is the average mumbaikars answer to all of these. that still does not discount the fact that the quality of life is really not too hot in this city compared to other places.

and don't slums bother you anymore?

Entropy said...

OOOh, I totally love this. so much argument !!

okay, about the foreign films, both metro adlabs and imax show those. watched 'city of gods' and '13 Tzameti' respectively in these halls.

Also think that Bombay has tons of plays being staged in theatres all over the city in various languages - English, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi - something no other city can boast of. Anita, am sure if you looked hard enough, you would find a Tamil play running in either Chembur or Matunga sometime. :-)

How come none of the Bombay supporters mentioned the fact that no other city is as safe as Bombay is at night ? So one can watch a play or movie at night and comfortably catch an auto / cab and go home. No other city can boast of this.

I love Bombay. :-)

Sloc said...

Kewl, prefer mumbai to bangalore anyday.. do a commute of 1 hour each way to cover 12 kms.. in mumbai that would be half the time by road and quarter by train.. but yeah, am getting too old for mumbai and this bangalore weather has weakened me significantly.. all this cool below 30 deg weather you know, not good for the health..

Entropy said...

Hi Sloc,
Have lived in Bnagalore and Bombay too.
Think while the weather in Bangalore is awesome and the greenery is great, would rather live in Bombay and visit Bangalore for a holiday.

Entropy said...

Oy Anita,
Watched a movie last night and got another point to add in favour of Bombay. They play the National Anthem in cinema halls ! I just love our National Anthem. One rarely gets to hear the National Anthem after graduating from college, so it feels good to stand up and sing along with it every once in a while.