January 11th, 2017

An open letter to the people of Mumbai

Dear Mumbai,

I have come to visit you, because I’m running a marathon this weekend.

And so, while I’m here for a few days, if you don’t object, I thought I’d just point a few things out to you.

I live in Delhi.   You have heard of Delhi, right?  We are the national capital, never forget, and we are home to more VIPs than you can shake a stick at, so we are, by and large, terribly, terribly important. You do all get that, don’t you?

Right now, it must be said, Mumbai that you do have the advantage over Delhi in your weather.  Your weather at the moment is absolutely fantastic. Ours is less so.

All my Mumbai friends insist this place is so polluted, to which I’m afraid I roll my eyes in a rather adolescent fashion and say “you have no idea”. As in No Idea.

They all mutter about the fog and smog and pollution, but seriously Mumbai, with your blue sky and your sea breezes, you are pretty darn fantastic right now.

But there are quite a few things that strike me about your city, and as we up in Delhi are way more important than you because we are the national capital and we do have lashings of VIPs and so on and so forth, I thought I should perhaps clear up some of these things with you.

Now, can you  please explain something to me? How come all you people stop at traffic lights? I mean, seriously, I’ve even seen lots of you stop as the lights turn to orange. And how come you all stop before the zebra crossing, allowing pedestrians to cross? How come you don’t stop on the zebra crossings? In Delhi, to be honest, we don’t really bother with things like zebra crossings or pedestrians’ rights or anything like that.

I’ve also noticed that you don’t really use your horn to the maximum.  I mean what is the point of being in a car, and having a horn, if you don’t use it? It was all very odd when I drove in from the airport the other day. There was a traffic jam at Haji Ali. And everybody just sat there in rows, one behind the other, and nobody used their horn. Why don’t you all try and push and jostle for space. Don’t you know how to drive?

And then there are your pavements. Or footpaths as they are better known in India. Up in Delhi, we don’t really do pavements or footpaths. Up in Delhi, which is of course, as you may remember, the capital city and full of terribly terribly terribly important people, we park our cars on the pavements, we build guard huts on the pavements, and if, by any miracle, there is a teeny bit of unoccupied pavement (which is exceedingly rare) we set up a shop or a store or use it as a urinal. We also throw most of our garbage on to the pavements, footpaths, and the roads as well. That’s another thing I’ve noticed in south Mumbai. Most of you put your litter in the litter bins. How quaint.

As I said at the outset, I have come here to run in the marathon. So yesterday evening I went for a run along Marine Drive.

All those girls and young women out running on their own. Many of them wearing shorts.

Well, let me tell you right now, that would never happen  in Delhi. Women in shorts? Alone? No one looking? No one gawping? No one passing any comments?

Since I’ve been here, no one has stared at me, no one has tried to sell me anything, no one has begged, no one has gawped at me, touched me, or done any of the things that happen on a routine basis up in our terribly terribly terribly important national capital.

So, yes, Mumbai. What do you have to say for yourselves?


A puzzled Delhi-ite

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