Observations on life in Mumbai…
Mumbai, a city that is famed for its night life; for its entertainment avenues; for its business environment; for its “happening nature” etc. Well, it has been nearly 24 days that I have spent in this lovely city, and I can now state definitively – first, the night life and the entertainment does not exist – after leaving home early in the morning, and returning late at night you kind of tend to forget anything except dinner, home and bed! Fact, no exaggeration there. There is no social life in this city: this is a city that offers lots of things – but nothing, absolutely nothing in the way of entertainment. You get only Sundays for fun – and those you would rather spend with family or sorting out some essential home work. There is simply no opportunity for fun in this city. Life is simply too busy. So you can debunk any notions about the supposed fun avenues and malls etc. Unfortunately, this is the one aspect for which this city is fabled… well, it does not exist. Not for people like me- professionals who come here to work! Second, it is known as a land of opportunity – no arguments there!
But the saddest part is that Mumbai is not known for what truely defines life in this city. The sense of order, the civic sense of the people of this city is something to be praised. A simple thing like catching an Auto from the station has been made into a thing of beauty… people stand in lines – and if anyone tries to break the line – the whole line will object. Contrast it to what is the norm in Central and North India as a whole – if anyone tries to break a line – all the rest will keep silent and shrug it off. Result? Total chaos at queues. People simply couldnt care less!
Unlike other cities, you wont find vehicles parked in the middle of the road, or road romeos chatting in mid – highway : even in this there is a precise order. I am deliberately pointing out such factors which have absolutely nothing to do with city planning; rather, these points have everything to do with human behaviour. Furthermore, I have also observed that the same person who displays carelessness elsewhere will show a markedly different behaviour in this city. Why?
I dont have a precise answer to that; but I can hazard a guess. When we are in an environment that is orderly, peer pressure modulates our behaviour. In a place with no order, we automatically calibrate our response accordingly. Besides, in an orderless scenario, the fear is that if you display order, you will be left behind. This irrational thought process forces a change in our behaviour patterns. In reality, waiting will only cause a delay of a few minutes… That leads us to the next question: how do we instill a sense of order in some of our more disorderly cities?
You cannot claim that it has to do with the distances people travel. This is something I have observed even in ticket queues, at isolated residential stands, shops etc. There is a definite order about things here – which is a sea-change in attitude from what is observable in Indore, for instance. By and large, people here at least adhere to basic rules of civic sense – something that is conspicuous by its absence in other places I have stayed in or visited
This leads me to a simple question: why cant cities like Indore, Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Bhopal, Raipur et al be like this? This is basic Civic Sense; and believe me visitors from outside can observe these small, tiny details. This translates into a positive image for the state. I am a frequent visitor to Gujarat – and my observations are much the same for that state. The moment you enter Gujarat, you will find a definable sense of order and direction that is evident. Little surprise then that the 2 states are the best performing states…
Another observation about this city is its people mix: I have heard 2 languages used in free conversation here in equal measure. And no, one of them is not Hindi. They are Gujarati and Marathi. It is a curious mix – the business class is largely Gujarati while the normal lingua fraca is Marathi. Lucky I can understand both – I am a Marathi, and can at least get the gist of what is being said in Gujarati! I am not insinuating that the sense of order is because of Gujarati population presence; I have observed the same phenomenon in Pune and Nagpur. As I observed earlier, these small points – or rather, seemingly small points -are the ones that give the first defining impression of any city to a visitor. And people do observe these minor points…. as I have learned from reading various authors. Besides, as I also stated earlier, these 2 states are among the best performers. Again, I am not making a direct link between these 2 parameters; but it has caused me to pause and think… about myself as well as my home town….