Part 4: People
This comes with disclaimers. Any references to real people (living or dead) or favourite characters (in all works of arts - including but not restricted to comic strips, short stories and graphic novels) , actual locales (especially those South of Bandra and South of Delhi) and historical events are based on the observations of the author, who has no way of confirming that what he perceives in his cognitive reality is identical to objective reality. All other names, characters, places and incidents portrayed in this post are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead or undead, is entirely coincidental and only slightly intentional*. In other words, don't sue me.
I have had more experience with Delhi. Eighteen more years of experience than in Bombay. However, where experience fails, stories make up for it. Plus, when has the lack of first person experience stopped me from abstract thought?
The proudest moment of a Bombay person's life is when the taxi-driver delivers exact change, in multiples of Rs. 1. This happens only in Bombay (obviously, they discount the Kolkata bus conductor, who gives out 10 paisa, as the economy there has a different currency altogether). The second proudest moment comes when they travel in well-packed trains at 9:30 am in the morning and get occasional glances of the sea. This experience, however, is more the stuff of legends than reality. Anybody who complains about the fact that they were pushed in by the crowds and therefore couldn't really see (anything, leave alone the sea) is a Delhiite.
The Bombay person also is amongst the busiest species in the world (trailing only the honeybees, worker ants and the Chinese). They also believe that nobody else has as much work and professionalism as they do (not even the Chinese or the ants). Inspite of this (or perhaps because of this), they get to watch the maximum number of movies, play the most amount of cricket and eat out the most. Every weekend, they watch the maximum number of plays and read the maximum number of books, unless they are headed out to one of the maximum number of hill-stations nearby.
In fact there's nothing that a Bombay person can not do. Maximum.
When it comes to thinking, however, there's nothing that a Bombay person can think. He doesn't/ can't think of politics, art, history or anything which requires thought beyond the primal instinct to do. Nothing captures this more than an incident a famous columnist told me about. This is when he just joined one of the most-read mid-day newspapers as an assistant editor and had an intern working in the same division. The intern was from the best college in Bombay (we will call it X). So columnist (we call him S) asks,
"So Zach, what are you doing at X?"
"Really, even I did Economics. So, have you studied any comparative economic theory?"
"Yes, dude. Lots."
"So, Zach, what do you think of socialism?"
"It's all cool, man."
"Really. So, are you a socialist?"
"Yes, dude. I am."
"Really. What do you mean.."
"Man, I like to party a lot. I am amongst the most social.."
Needless to say, it could only have happened in Bombay. After all, the geography of Bombay makes a man (woman) what John Donne warned against. Needless to say, also, the assistant editor was a Delhiite.
If there are two words which describe the Delhi person, it is "Chhin Lo" (or snatch it).
That is because the Delhi person also is a victim of her geography. She has personally fought against corrupting Western influences - the Aryans, the Mughals, the Mongols, the British and fashion designers from Bombay. She has also given every refugee - the Aryans, the Mughals...., a place in her heart and the city. For the Delhi person has the largest heart in the world. Whether it is because of the food doused with liberal doses of ghee or because of historical factors, has not been proved. That's also besides the point - the Delhi person can make place for everyone and everything and everyone's everything (snatch it).
To enable her to make place for everyone and everything, she also neatly buckets them into various appearances. Hence, a male movie-goer has to wear cargoes and a T-shirt. The male play-goer has to wear a kurta/ kurti and chappals. The male pub-goer has to wear tight jeans, shiny buckles and a designer-looking shirt. The male college goer has to wear a goatee and a shirt loosely tucked in. The neat categorisation keeps everyone in their place, without the need of an identity card. It also ensures that a play goer will not change her mind half way on her way to Shri Ram Centre and go for a drink at the Blue's instead.
As I said, the Delhi person also has a place for and right on everyone's everything. Coming from Calcutta, I wasn't very prepared for such inclusiveness and 'lost' at least nine water bottles in school within the first month. Soon, I learned and now, have no qualms breaking lines at airports (even in Bombay!). Okay, this isn't my confessional so I will move on.
Being in centres of power, every Delhi person also knows somebody in power. This is a cliche, of course and hence, will not be mentioned ever. Not by me since I was not complaining when I watched Anil Kumble take his ten wickets from the Kotla Pavilion**.
And getting premium tickets and other favours is perhaps the reason, why I like Delhiites more! If the above mentioned person (who got me tickets) is reading this, I like you even more than that.
* inspired by this.
**actually, that's a lie, but then I am a Delhiite, myself.