Friday, March 26, 2010

Saddi Dilli And Aamchi Mumbai

Every time I open my mouth to say I grew up in Delhi, most Mumbaikars exclaim with horror, "But isn't that an awful city to live in?" That  question is generally followed by," Didn't you feel horribly unsafe there?"  then, " Were you ever, you know, molested on the roads?" And then, "Aren't you glad you stay in Mumbai now?" And of course the icing on the cake," So which city do you think is better?"

 I used to answer them pretty honestly once. No. I didn't find the city awful, in fact I loved it. Yes I did, but very rarely.  No I did not have my butt pinched or anything like that every time I went out.(It did happen once in a bus, but I pinched back. Hard) Yes I am glad I stay in Mumbai. And well, to the last one, that question is so stupid it does not even deserve an answer.

For some reason, people tend to think that you can not love two cities equally. That you must prefer one over the other. That the preference better be Mumbai because no sane person will ever prefer a city known for the Punjabi culture of over the top display of show-sha  and name dropping. And what about the danger lurking at every corner? A testosterone laden Jat male just might grab you, rape you and then leave you to die. It is pathetic that some of the people I know, all well educated, well read and fairly well balanced, tend to be so biased. Earlier I used to get angry. Now I just laugh.

Because there is humour to be found in every corner of both these Indian cities. When I came to Mumbai as a young bride in the early nineties, the city's breakneck pace amazed me. No one had time for anything superfluous. When I went for veggie shopping, I invariably asked the wrong question. What's more, I took too long to ask it. Now of course I have become wise. "Bhai-saab, pyaaz kya bhao de rahen hain?" has been replaced by " Kanda kitne ka?" Short and crisp. And you get the same answer. Amazing.

It took me some time to get used to the city's brash language. I used to cringe every time I heard the Bombaiyya version of Hindi. Once, while selecting some footwear from a particular hawker at Linking Road, I was told, " Leneka hai toh loh nahi to jao, khali-peeli apunka bheja mat kharab karo. Apun ke paas itna time nahi". Coming from the land of the traders who always said, "Dekh lijiye behenji, dekhne ka koi paisa nahi lagta," it was a rude culture shock. My traumatised self almost needed therapy to go back to Linking Road. Now when I venture out there, I make my purchases and quickly get away. Honestly, who really has the patience to deal with fussy customers?

Of course shopping in Delhi could be equally mind numbing, specially for those lost souls who are not used to the North Indian twang. Like my husband. He was more at home in Mumbai, where the strictly vegetarian Gujarati shopkeepers did not stock anything even remotely connected to animals, except milk. He was used to asking the grocers whether they kept eggs. He did the same in Delhi once. " Kya aap ande dete hain?"  The grocer without blinking said " Sirji main toh nahi deta par murgi deti hain. Aapko chahiye?" He was speechless but he bravely went ahead and chose what he had to buy. While making the payment, the grocer said " Aap ji chaliye, saaman ghar bhijwata hoon. Bas yehi kafi hain ki aapke ghar mein kuch whore bhi bhejoon?" This time it was my husband who needed the therapy.

Now, you tell me, when they ask me which city I love more, what do I reply? Both cities have made me what I am today. Delhi is beautiful, gracious, old world charm and wide open spaces. Mumbai is spunky, funky, glitzy and modern. In both cities I have a home. And I love both of them unconditionally. It is unfair when people compare these two cities and find one lacking.

So when I am asked which team I am cheering for this IPL, I say unabashedly the Kolkata Knight Riders. Because sadly, some people, even those who are well educated, well read and fairly well balanced, tend to be biased about their home state.

 Disgraceful, isn't it?

I did not translate the Hindi sentences into English as I thought the humour would  perhaps be lost in translation. If some one wants it translated, I will do it.


Nupur said...

1sst !

Anonymous said...

That was wonderfully hilarious !!! Loved it !!!

Yes, why cant anyone love two cities ???? Know what, I love every city / town I've lived in. All the places are close to my heart and I cant choose between them.

" Sirji main toh nahi deta par murgi deti hain. Aapko chahiye?" - ROFL !!!! Can imagine what ur husband went thru !!!! :)

Nupur said...

Cool post A ! I have shopped & lived in both the cities and frankly I really did like Mumbai :) Bias,well may be...also that I haven't spent much time in Delhi as I did in Mumbai..but I found Mumbai much more easier to access..different perspectives..and different priorities :)

But yea at the end of it I guess comparing is not a good's like asking you two choose amongst your two as a mother won't be bias towards either..the one who has lived in the both the cities for long number of years won't be able to choose,I guess :)

Nona said...

I understand your predicament! To choose these two cities is like choosing between your siblings or parents. :)

I have never lived in Mumbai. But I have heard about the pace there!

I have lived in NCR for an year. So, I was smiling when I read the egg(anda) anecdote. Yes, the shopkeeers there are quite bashful. :)

In simple words, you have shown us the colorful ways of the two different cities. :)

Kavita Saharia said...

ROFL..Aparna,that was hilarious !My tea came out of my nose..hee.Gotta rush now...oh,i need to read this!!

Tomz said...

Though I am not a fluent Hindi literate, I could understand some dialogues that you wrote in italics..
I had visited Delhi and stayed there for some five days in connection with the monumental and destination shooting trip...It was a wonderful trip..
I rmbr the funny names of some markets there, Chor Bazar, Sunday Market, Palika Bazar, etc.
I purchased a pair of jogging shoes for cheap prize from one of the shops in any of the bazars, though I dint know Hindi well, the job of bargaining was done well! thanks to our car driver!
I cant make a comparison between Dilli and Mumbai as I have not yet visited Mumbai..
Nice post!

ZB said...

Hummm....Delhi is a great place...greatest place infact....i did my early schooling there, til 8th std and have one of the fondest memories. No other place makes samose and butter chicken like delhi does...i ahve been searching for my school canteen samoses for 2 decades...but nothing matches the aftertaste i still have of those ones.....i miss Delhi...been to Mumbai just 2 times for a week each not really familiar...Just the huge, crowded VT station or Dadar....Standing at Gateway of India and admiring the sea and the Fiat taxis.

reading this post i feel like visiting both the cities. For an Indian its Delhi/Mumbai matter if you have seen Paris, London or Dubai....Mumbai/Delhi no other place on earth.....

Kavi said...

Loved it ! I get asked these questions of Bangalore and here...and i always cringe ! I love both cities ! And that is in some insidiously bigamous to people !


How does it matter how 'kanda' is asked for. Its prices make you reel anywhich way !

Anonymous said...

Ahh I so understand when you say you love both cities equally. I grew up in Hyderabad but worked in Mumbai. And it is in Mumbai that I made friends for life, became independent and had the best of times. And I love both cities to death!

R. Ramesh said...

amchi mumbai navi mumbai...hey buddy thanks 4 yr kind words ya...cheers and best wishes:)

Aparna said...

Nu, yayy you first!
You got it, it is like asking me who is my favourite daughter. And every time I am asked the question,I am flabbergasted.

Umsreflections, thank you :)My husband as I said, was totally speechless.

Nona, these two cities are totally different from each other. Both are unique, both are preiceless.

Kavita, thank you. Isn't shopping in Delhi amusing?

Tomz, both the cities have their own charm. You should come to Mumbai once. It is a nice place to visit.

ZB, the crowd in Mumbai can overwhelm you. But one gets used to it. And yes, nothing compares to the food one gets in Delhi.

Kavi, the kanda prices can make you cry no matter which city you are in. And Bangalore too? I thought the rivalry is only between Mumbai and Delhi.

Shilpadesh, thank you very much for understanding my position. I need more people like you in my life!

R.Ramesh, thanks.

Anonymous said...

just loved it, had a good laugh . what a sense of humour
this reminded me of my visit to delhi after my marriage and a short stay at Mumabi ( my sasural)
In mumbai the bhaji wala will give you even 100 gms of vegetable which is not so in Delhi.
so out of my new habit i asked a vegetable wala for 100 gms of some vegetable and prompt came the reply from him, " are you from MUmbai"

Indian Pundit said...


Also a very good post too.

In Kolkata...most people speak a "bengali filled" hindi....quite funny.


kirti said...

hi Aparna,
Taht was a very cute comparison.
I agree both cities have their own charm.On a personal level : we always identify with the city we grew up in and , we love the city where we have had our first Grahasthi because running a household in a new city can be very thrilling.

Sharmila said...

I still have not come to terms with the blunt way the shopkeepers ... or for that matter everybody ... speak here. And it really beats me why people want to know which city you like the most. Next time try answering Delhi for a Mumbaiya and vice versa. ;-)

Ire said...

Your post blog title...I have a blog on Mumbai - Amchi Mumbai: and a blog on Delhi - Saddi Dilli:

A New Beginning said...

Hi Aparna,
I loved the post and `you know the best part is that you've balanced everything out, it was hilarious. Thaks for spreading the cheer and giving us a taste of the two cities...but you know what being an Indian its a joy to look into the varied cultures of our land :)
Thanks for visiting my blog and I would love to see you for your has made me addictive enough to follow it :)

wanderlust said...

Aww, that was so funny. I can imagine that totally stunned look on your husband's face.
As for IPL, finally I have a team that I can root for -from Kerala :-)

nsiyer said...

That Kolkatta Night Riders was an anti climax. But, yes you were frank enough to say it straight from the gut.

nsiyer said...

That Kolkatta Night Riders was an anti climax. But, yes you were frank enough to say it straight from the gut.

nsiyer said...

That Kolkatta Night Riders was an anti climax. But, yes you were frank enough to say it straight from the gut.

The Panorama said...

Ha ha ha, hilarious post!! I am from DElhi and have visited Mumbai twice in my life. I thought Mumbai was very different and nice but I love Delhi. Guess am those biased oned:) Nice post, Aparna!

Onkar said...

Great!How do you manage to come up with such gems tirelessly?

sujata sengupta said...

I just love the way you can get humourous at the touch of a button..hmm ok not a button..but somthing like that!! I never got what the sex jat driver you had in delhi said, he spoke little, and did well because his words just spoiled his looks..what was his name?? i think you need to audio blog on your yoga teacher and her gang of students, we still just lol about your performance on that one..

I am just too biased about kkr, i just cant like any other team.. god help!!

RGB said...

When I first landed in Mumbai, I thought I'd never fit into the city and its ways. But in a month's time I thought I always belonged there. Mumbai-to-Cochin transition was worse. Because, I thought life almost came to a standstill. But now, I find myself busy as a bee, quite at home with the way of life here. I guess, as long as you find a space for yourself, wherever you are, irrespective of where you are from, you will find yourself very much at home.

Loved your post!

BK Chowla, said...

I have spent almost half my time in Mumbai and half in Delhi.
Both are great cities.But with a distinct difference.
In Delhi it matters WHO you know.
In Mumbai, it matters WHO you are.

Anonymous said...

Loved reading the post. You echoed most of what I feel:)

I think a comparison between any two places is so unfair!

After all we all have had our own experiences in any place.ANd that is what shapes our perception of that place.
And what might be a beautiful inviting city for you might not be the same for me.
Had written extensively on labels and then saadi Dilli ki kahaani:)
I am not a Delhiite but I love the city too:) and not at the cost of any other city:)

N said...

heheh...hubby's delhi experience is a gem! whore bhi bhej doon :D
aah, punjabis! i'm a punjabi delhiite n can totally relate.

nice post :)

Ava said...

hahaha ! The standard punjabi greeting is Whore Ki haal hai?

R. Ramesh said...

thank u thank u thank u

Neha said...

I am born and brought up in mumbai, stayed in delhi for a day! Do i have a say in which city is better? :P MUMBAI!



Destiny's child... said...

Some sense of humour , that shopkeeper(delhiwala) has! :D

Interesting post :)

Aparna said...

Anju gandhi,yes,the two cities and their bhajiwallas are completely different.

Indian Pundit, Kolkata is another level altogether!

Kirti,yes, absolutely true. I grew up in delhi and set up my grahasti in Mumbai :)

Sharmila, after so many years of staying in one city, one gets used to its language. Now the rudeness does not bother me so much.

Nikita Banerjee, will drop in to your blogs surely.

A new begining,thank you. I also feel that all our Indian cities are great and there is something to love about in all those cities.

Wanderlust,cheers to the Kerala team!

Nsiyer, Why do you think supporting KKR is anti-climatic? You do not think they are capable of winning?

Panorama, thanks, I love Delhi too.

Onkar,thank you!

Sujata,all my drivers in Delhi were sexy. Which one are you talking about?

RGB,thank you.Yes, we need to find our comfort zone in any city, we will start loving it.

BK Chowla, my husband who deals with corporate problems on a daily basis here tells me that who you know matters a great deal in Mumbai city too!

Indyeah, I had read your post on Delhi and it was wonderful. And you are right, its our experience with a city that makes us love or hate it.

Nikita, hubby's Delhi experience is memorable to say the least!

Avdi, I know...whore, sab theek hai? :D


Neha, you are not the only one, most people born and brought up in a particular city would prefer it.

Destiny's child, shopping can be at times a hilarious experience in North Indian cities :)

P said...


For the record it isn't disgraceful at all! Infact my super loyalist soul doesn't let me chose any other city over Mumbai... even though I fell in love with another city and managed to call it home!! We all have our little inhibitions.. I consider this to be mine! :)

Smita said...

ROFL! @ The incident that ur hubby faced :D

U know I did that to a shopkeeper once! I said "Bhaiya ande denge?" to which he innocently replied "kitne doon?" and in between giggles I said "aap kaise doge? Murgi ke nahin hain?" :D The guy turned beet root red & my Mom was embarassed :D

But Yes I agree with you, it is impossible to choose between cities! Each has it's different style & fun which maks it different & special :)

KKR?? :D

The Holy Lama said...

Now the question again, Kaun pehle aaya- anda ya Dilliwala murga? Splendid chaos. Love the country for all these little memories we share:)

Swatantra said...

Hilarious.. i was waiting for the last to come and it was more beautiful!!

Atul XYZ said...

Anytime Dilli(not to forgot Dilwalon ki)... Ofcourse I had bad experiences in Delhi but I have got my best of friends from Delhi... Whenever I set feet on delhi I feel home :)...

Anonymous said...

lol...That was a good one.

I have lived in both these cities for short periods, and have experienced these too.They are the extremes. In my opinion, Delhi treats you as a guest,aditi devo types...and Mumbai treats you like a family member. I liked both the experiences.

Shopping in Indians shops in Dubai can be an adventure too. Each shop has a different approach to sales. Maybe I should blog on it someday...

Sumandebray said...

Very well written..... Yes you can like as many cities as you like, isn't it!
Support KKR and just to be part of a winning team can also support MI (after all every Indian have the RIGHT on that genius called Tendulkar, appun ka sachin)
Delhi is also nice place to live but not as inviting as other cities. So as a outsider you feel a bit scared at the onset. Atleast that was my first take but after teh first few years I realized that Delhi actually did not belong to the Punjabi or the Jats.... It belonged to every one. One just have lay his claim and in case of a conflict has to be the first one to raise the voice (sssh! hand if deemed necessry)
And talking about Hindi from a Bong... A well built 6+ feet friend once answered when was asked for an address "Mein Naiyi hun na Delhi mein... mein nahi paichanti" and the guy just scanned him from head to toe and back with both eyebrows close to each other.......

Deepa said...

Its an interesting topic. And judging by the number of comments something that people love to express opinions on. I think the places we love /live in are directly connected with our life's experiences in those places. If you had a wonderful childhood in Timbuktu, you would think it is a wonderful place regardless of what the world thought. Take me, I've lived in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Chennai. And I love all these places. Simply because I have wonderful memories of the times I spent here with my friends and family. As you rightly said - it doesn't have to be either-or. The human heart has immense capacity to love. So lets love them all!! :)

Anonymous said...

This is my story :) Grew up in Delhi, moved to Bombay and now back in aamchi Dilli - I was delighting in being able to order bhaji from the balcony. I managed to remember to not say kaanda, batata, but when the order was done, I told him, "Ek maala par le aayiye bhaiya." "Jee?" "Oh Pehli manzil, first floor par le aayiye."

I agree with you, it's possible to love both the cities equally. I do too :)

Anonymous said...

This is my story :) Grew up in Delhi, moved to Bombay and now back in aamchi Dilli - I was delighting in being able to order bhaji from the balcony. I managed to remember to not say kaanda, batata, but when the order was done, I told him, "Ek maala par le aayiye bhaiya." "Jee?" "Oh Pehli manzil, first floor par le aayiye."

I agree with you, it's possible to love both the cities equally. I do too :)

Meira said...

oh hahahaha! Well, you're right. We may love as many cities as we want to, but the IPL belongs to Adam Gilchrist. So what if I have never been to the state he's representing, or the land he is from!

Blunt Edges said...

i loved the title! :)

n coming down 2 business, KKR stands no chance this heartfelt sympathies! :P

Arunima said...

i love bangalore. :-) people are really nice. I did find Delhi guys being disrespectful to women. Mumbai didn't bother me and were not bothered about anything. but i didnot live in the two cities so, i cannot judge.

Anonymous said...

Aparna, looks like you found your humour again!

Never lived in Delhi, so can't comment on that. I have lived in a few different cities, though - and love each one for different reasons!

Sorcerer said...

Enjoyed..every bit of it

Anonymous said...


eye-in-sty-in said...

The funny thing about Bombay is there is not time to waste and no space to be spared.. but if theere is an accident or a fight, both the space and time are suddenly found... even in a crowded jam packed virar local... :-)

Funny thing about Delhi is they have so much time for customers, but they dont fret when someone dents they 2 hour old new car... wheres Bombaites are passionate about their vehicles... It is this distinct flavour that makes both cities so unique...

very well balanced post.... loved it for the message, home is where the heart is... :-)

And yes, humorous too :-)

Unseen India Tours said...

This is a fantastic post !! Loved your reviews about Delhi and Mumbai !! Great post as always !!Unseen Rajasthan

एक बेहद साधारण पाठक said...

i have no words, great post :)

Sohini Rajpal said...

Aparna, had some time today and looked up your blog. Kick myself everytime after reading for not following it more regularly. Your description,slapstick humor, simple flow make them such great read. Keep em coming! Cheers.

Nisha Jha said...

I am so much with you on this Delhi/Mumbai thing.

I am exactly in similar situation. Grown up in Delhi and now settled in Mumbai.

Great !!


Aparna said...

@ P, it's actually all about where we grew up. That city always takes the number one spot.

@ Smita, KKR still :) It's marginally better than KXIP :) :)

@ Holy Lama, splendid chaos indeed. And as you rightly said, it is to be found in all corners of India.

@ Swatantra, thank you.

@ Atul XYZ, Delhi rocks!!!

@ Jyothi, both these cities are like chalk and cheese...waiting for the Dubai shopping experiences post.

@ Suman, your friend's anecdote was really funny. Bengalis and Hindi do not mix very well.

@ Deepa, so true. You have said it really well. There's always space in our hearts to love one more city.

@ Indianhomemaker, Both cities are great and the shopping is great too. Wish every one else will realise that.

@ Meira, support your Gilly, but that team is not as good as KKR!

Aparna said...

@ Blunt Edges, thanks, so which one are you supporting? RCB?

@ Arunima, Bangalore is a beautiful place, and so is Chennai, and also Kolkata. I have stayed in all these places and loved each of them. But then I am biased, I love India you see.Cheers.

@ Manjujoglekar, thanks, I intend to hold on tight to my humour this time and not let go.

@ Sorcerer, thanks.

@ Eye-in-sty-in, hey you wrote Bombayites instead of Mumbaikers!!! The MNS is going to get you.
Actuallly both these places have good points and bad points. It all depends on how we deal with them. Thanks.

@ Unseen Rajasthan, thanks so much. I am glad you liked my post.

@ Gaurav Agrawal, thank you.

@ Sohini, thank you. Actually I do not blog as regularly as I used to, so you may not have missed much. But any encouraging words coming from you is always welcome.

@ Nisha, you just might be my soul sister. Thanks for your appreciation.

Sai Charan said...

Hi Aparnaji,

So good to read about the two cities and you've putforth the original language used by the vendors on streets, the flavour is true cause you left it untouched.

For example: "Leneka hai toh loh nahi to jao, khali-peeli apunka bheja mat kharab karo. Apun ke paas itna time nahi"

I got to face the same tone of Hindi spoken to me by a vendor when I was in Mumbai :)

Thanks for sharing your opinion on the topic of choosing which state is dearer, native or the one where we live now :)

Most of the times we hear people asking such questions, but in your reply there is lots of straight forwardness and honesty.

Sai Charan :)

Neel said...

Well..I remember I have asked you atleast a dozen times when you came to BBay after you got married,"Bulbul you like BBay or Dilli?"..Remember it used to be Bombay back in those days...

Anonymous said...

laughing so hard after a long time. your post always makes me do that. Can totally empathize with your husband this time... I had once said the same thing in Delhi. Once when bhaiyya asked where Bhabhi is...I said Bhabhi anda de rahi hai and everyone burst out laughing. They still tease me about it.

Yes, I can love many cities equally coz when I moved away from them have always managed to leave a part of my heart there...

Alps said...

hi loved yr comparison between 2 cities i have gone thru exactly same situation wen i moved frm sydney to melbourne and its funny how ppl always asks which one is better city to live N honestly is both.....

Anil said...

Very well written. Yes, it is difficult to choose one city over the other. I've lived for 16 years in Pune, seven years in Bengaluru, ten years in Mumbai and 17 hearse in Delhi. Love all cities equally. Even Baroda, where I spent a year. Lovely city, that to.