I have lived in Delhi for three years and then anther 3 years I spent in Mumbai. I was in the college hostel in Delhi. The hostel had ridiculously strict rules and me being the typical fresh faced small towner rarely ventured out or ventured too far. But whenever I did, I faced always without fail some kind of eve teasing, or sexual harassment. Travelling by public transport was nearly impossible and taking the autorickshaw not only expensive but no safer. In fact the auto driver would also end up fleecing me thanks to my ignorance about the city and rigged meters. I was always struck by how no one seemed to be inclined to help a damsel in distress. I was also told by a fatherly auto driver that he avoids taking young female passengers after 7 p.m because he has been hounded by men in cars, catcalling and indulging in far worse. He told me he could not stand such behavior but felt helpless and preferred to not put himself in such a situation.
As opposed to this Mumbai where I did my Post Grad was refreshingly and surprisingly different. It is an egalitarian society where the top financial analyst and an average Joe would travel by the same train and by the same compartment even. In case of a 'takkar'/ accident the auto driver could get out and fight it out with the driver of the Mercedes car without the fear of hearing " tu jaanta hai tu kisse baat kar raha hai" dialogue commonly heard in Delhi. The public is disciplined to the point of being awe inspiring. I have seen long queues in bus stands snaking past the overhead shed and standing in order, come sunshine or rain. The auto/cab drivers seem so professional and one is never cheated. There are some exceptions though especially at Dadar and Kurla station. But these are few. I have also accosted men for eve teasing with a confidence that the 'aam junta' will support me and beat the perpetrator to pulp. I even found the Mumbai Police more approachable versus their Delhi counterparts. I could travel freely and without fear in Mumbai at odd hours. The lone police constable in the ladies compartment of the local train after 9 pm was always a reassuring sight.Simply said I love the energy and the people of Mumbai.
I am not starting a Delhi vs. Mumbai debate.I mentioned Delhi because that is the only other metro besides Mumbai that I have lived in. And I will now directly come to the point....
What is Raj Thackeray doing with the spirit and the image of Mumbai?
What is this insider vs outsider clash? The last I heard nothing akin to Article 370 applies to the state of Maharashtra. When did living in Mumbai and despite loving it , it was anti-Marathi/maharashtrains to mention your birth place and speak in your native tongue.
”When in Maharashtra, they must act like Maharashtrians. They (referring to SP) must adopt our way like saying Mumbai and not Bambai,” Shishir Shinde, MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena)spokesperson.
Shiv Sena has been debating for quite sometime now whether to push for a more inclusive Hindutva identity or to stick to its regional Marathi Manoos identity - sons of the soil versus migrants.
Raj Thackeray took advantage of this and has become the born again messiah of the Marathi Manoos.....defending them from the evil North Indians. He has been attacking one and all...from Bollywood demi Gods like Amitabh Bachhan, Shahrukh Khan to Mumbai's Joint Police Commissioner, K L Prasad. He has been holding the city to ransom with threats of violence.
Issues like water, congestion, pollution, thoughtless urbanization , health, etc become non issues in the face of Mumbai vs. Bombay, North Indian vs. Maharashtrian.....
So who really is a Mumbaikar?
Jammu vs. Kashmir, Mumbai vs.North Indians.....different players, a new playing field but the same game, with a dash of local flavor respectively.........at stake the upcoming assembly elections........