During school’s summer vacation, many people from our acquaintance went to their native place. Native place was their ancestral city or village where most probably their parents were born. Depending upon from where their parents came from, we found many homes locked in the summer vacation. As we did not fancy my dad’s village that much and practically no native place or a holiday home, we would stay put in Mumbai.
After they came back they would bring stories, gifts and eating delicacies from those towns, cities, villages. We would always ask them “Gaon main kya kiya?” (What did you do in the village?)
No matter where they went and no matter if the visiting place was a city, for us who stayed in Mumbai, the other place was “Gaon” (Village). It was probably because most of our parents were migrants to the city and when they came in Mumbai, they left their birth place which was probably a village so it was always going back to a village. Everybody came back and they came back to the only city in the world, Mumbai.
The concept was so much stuck in my mind that years later when I had colleagues from another city I was still considering Mumbai as the only city in the world. So one day when one of my colleague was preparing for a vacation to Delhi, I asked him;
“Toh? Gaon ja raha hai?” (So, back to the village?)
He corrected me that Delhi is actually a city, a big city but for me, Mumbai was the center of the universe and as far as the records go, the only city in the world. Everything else except Mumbai is a village.
It took me some time to adjust to the fact that there are other cities in India. When I went to Amsterdam, it was always a city because ‘Phoren’ only had cities, big developed cities.
The problem with the misconception I had of “Mumbai” being the only city was because I had never visited any other city. The only other place I visited was my dad’s birth place, a village and Mahabaleshwar, a hill station. We did not have many vacations in our childhood.
The first proper city I visited was Aurangabad for my degree admission which I never got. The city in the interior of Maharahstra was small compared to the crowd and the size of the city. At 10:00 PM, the roads were deserted. Although I saw only two nights there, it was enough for me to label it as a “Village”. For me, a city does not sleep, atleast not the city I know of which at that time was Mumbai only.
I visited Bangalore and Mysore during my College IT tour. I like the greenery and the calm life of Bangalore but was not sure if I could live in a city like that. It took me Amsterdam to learn that I could live a slower life but it takes time to adjust.
It took me a while before I visited Pune but that was for her and the trips were short. I did not see the hustle bustle of the city. Again by the time I reach there it was so dark and silent. Pune was still a small city that time before it became the IT hub today. But then again, it went to bed early.
In the last 3 weeks, I have been to four cities, Pune, Shirdi, Delhi and Bangalore. Each city has its own speciality, its own personality and its own life. I cannot help myself comparing with Mumbai but then I also understand that each city is different from each other. Watching television, I had imagine how the life in these cities must have been and although I don’t find it as fast as Mumbai, it has its own charm, its own pace. After all not everybody lives in Mumbai.
I find people as passionate about their city as I am about Mumbai. They are as frustrated about their city as I become about Mumbai. For them, their city is the center of the world.
I guess the “Always alive” Mumbai run a lot, actually runs a lot too much and it should learn from other cities to take it slowly but then Mumbai would not be Mumbai. And when anyone goes to the other city, he/she can’t help but compare his/her own city with that other city. Its human tendency I guess.
Saying all that compared to all cities, Mumbai does feed you almost 24 hours a day. Try finding food after 10:00 PM in Bangalore.