Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Every city has a character of its own

It’s been two weeks since we had to go on an urgent visit to Mumbai. I had thought of writing about it but many times I just do not feel like writing. Now I have gathered up enough motivation to write. Just a week before we went to Mumbai, I was telling Anurag that I have really started liking Bangalore. Mumbai was never on my list of favorite cities. But another visit to the city and a week later, it miraculously appears on the list and that too very close to the top. It is not that this is my first visit but some things were different this time.
The experience started from the airport itself. We take a pre-paid taxi. The person escorts us to the taxi and we are in an air conditioned Honda city. Compare this with Bangalore airport where we take the pre-paid taxi slip and one of the cab drivers takes it from us and asks us to wait till he gets his cab. This takes 10 mins easily. Maybe the Mumbai cabs take more money but seemed ok to me considering the distances there.

I also got to travel in public transport systems. I used the famed local train, buses, and auto rickshaws. The local train was not a first experience. Maybe I was in a better position to compare it with other road transport systems. The thing that struck me most was that life would be impossible without local trains in Mumbai, for people who travel large distances daily. Yes, I had heard this before but this was the first time I experienced it. The journey which took an hour by car was done in 20 mins by a local train. To me, that was amazing. If you are just a little bit ready to accept the local train, you can be very impressed with it, like I am. Yes, you have to stand during the journey and if you are lucky, you will find a comfortable place to stand. I was lucky. It was afternoon and I was in the ladies coach. But to me, standing in the local train is far better than sitting in the bus. One, it is amazingly fast. Two, it is quite entertaining. People getting down, climbing the train and keeping track of when and on which side their station is going to come. I was looking at the other women in the coach. Some of them catching up on their sleep, some cutting vegetables. Most of them dressed with impeccable fashion sense. On my previous local train journey, I saw people selling things ranging from hair pins, earrings, fruits, vegetables and what not, on the trains. And people were buying them.

The bus and autos also deserve a mention. The bus conductors were very helpful. Anurag also told me an incident where a passenger had to get down before the conductor could give him ticket. So he just gave the money to the conductor and got down the bus. The conductor threw the tickets out of the window while he was in view of the passenger. The auto drivers, neither do they say no to you nor do they ask for more money. Both these things need major improvement in Bangalore.

Overall, it was the energy of the city which struck me more than anything else. I could just feel the energy and pride the people of Mumbai felt. Anurag rightly said you should always be aware if you are in Mumbai. Also, their attention to detail and their motivation to do their work the best they can. Well, this might not be true but I deduced this from seeing the shop keepers. The shopping complex next to our apartment had a single vegetable and fruits shop. That guy need not worry whether his shop is looking good or not. People will come to him anyway. But he had taken pains to arrange the fruits and vegetables in an appeleaing manner. All people are very courteous unless you do something wrong. I have heard tales of how people get beaten up if caught with slightest misbehaviour towards females. Another thing I noticed that people stand up for what they believe is their right. Compare it to the 'adjust madi' attitude in Bangalore where most things are tolerated.
It is true that every city has a life and character of its own. I am not trying to say that one city is better than the other. Every city is unique.


Anonymous said...

Good writeup!

Nikita said...

Thanks for the comment. It feels good to know someone liked my work!

Achyut Telang said...

yes...Mumbai is great! It lives upto its name.