Bombay has enveloped itself into so many myths that it took me a year to finally break them free. Often I would reprimand myself for not believing them. These myths & tales are not written anywhere, they are perpetrated and spread by people living here, or those who would have visited the city sometime in its past.
Today, these are my observations:
a) Myth No 1 – Bombay’s autowallahs are sans nakhras – Nothing can be more far-fetched from truth. I had heard so much about these ‘good hardworking samaritans’ that the first time an auto-driver refused to go a short-distance, I was nearly heartbroken and extremely aghast.
Agreed they are a shade better than their Delhi counterparts. But to say they are symbols of hard-working virtue, is a folly. I have often stood helplessly (sometimes in rain) trying to convince rude and uncouth rickshaw-wallahs to cross the east to west side of supposedly the same area. On an average it took at least five-six rejections before one of them would obligingly relent.
Sorry, but as I experienced it, Bombay’s autowallahs are discourteous & disrepectful (and equally bad drivers).
b) Myth No 2 – Traffic moves in a straight line - Probably true to a small extent on the ‘town side’ (which to the uninitiated is the tip of the island city, starting from south of Bandra upto the sea). Elsewhere, the situation is no better than that of, say, Delhi. Worse, the tight roads(& lack of alternative routes) make the matters more unfavorable.
c) Myth No 3 – Bombay travels in trains - Again, partially true. The days when a CEO would prefer a public train to a private transport are long gone. I hate to sound condescending (or as Mumbai Mirror mentioned in an interesting article ‘class perceptions & snobbery in trains’) but fact is, there is a shift in demographics of those who travel by train. More and more people are switching over to their own vehicles. In my office, I am sure that after a certain heirarichal barrier, employees are avoiding train-travel.
Perhaps, that is also the reason for the increased choking of the traffic – which (given the habit to labelize and generalize here), the Bombayiites with casual grandness mention as ‘The Legendary Bombay Traffic’ – which, by the way, sadly is no myth!
d) Myth No 4 – Petty crimes like house-breaking & car-robbing don’t happen here - Oh yeah! I believed this till the time my house was burglared. Thankfully, I didn’t have much to lose (and it would surely have been a wasted day for the thief). But the incident forever shattered my image of ‘safe and secure Bombay’.
These were on top of mind recall. More will follow as and when I remember them.
Disclaimer – I have kept the post on a back-burner for sometime, lest someone feels I am being unduly picky about the city. No, it’s not that.
In fact, I quite love Bombay and chose to work here on my own accord. It wasn’t a compulsive official shift by any stretch of imagination. I came here by choice.
Also, I don’t really want to start of a Delhi vs Bombay debate, which often comes up. And frankly, both cities have their own plus points. It’s where you live the longest, you start appreciating the finer points, and also some amount of habit seeps in.
For those who know me, would appreciate I love discovering new cities, their nooks and corners; their quirks and idiosyncracies; their charms and attractiveness. So, this post is by no means a run-down of Bombay.