Yesterday, five days after the Mumbai Marathon, I spent a day in Delhi. Delhi has become an impressive city. The new airport terminal, the roads, the metro, the hotels, restaurants, night-life, the gradual shift to becoming the art and culture capital of the country, have all in their own way contributed to Delhi’s emergence as perhaps “the city” in India at this point in time.
I remember walking with a friend to Connaught place at 7.30 at night, from a hostel 10 minutes away, in 1983. When we didn’t return by 8.30PM (we were at Nirula’s having burgers), a search party was sent for us. Delhi has come a long, long way since then.
Ever so often, an article crops up in some paper or magazine talking about which city is better, Mumbai or Delhi. It all depends on who the writer is and where his/her loyalties lie. Typically, those who are for Mumbai, talk about it being the financial capital, how it is more cosmopolitan, how Bollywood and Television live here (honestly, I wouldn’t shed a tear, if the entertainment industry were to relocate to Delhi) and how Mumbaiites are more polite when ordering food in restaurants. Those who extol Delhi’s virtues talk about all the stuff I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph and the fact that on any given day there are more events of all kinds happening in Delhi than anywhere else in the country.
So what makes Mumbai special for people like us! (In no particular order…)
1. The Mumbai Marathon
Once a year, it is a different kind of high! This year, 9876 people finished the half-marathon, 1450 of them over the age of 45. Running with thousands of people, all competing with themselves, not each other, is an experience difficult to put into words. Yes Delhi has the Airtel Marathon, but it doesn’t really count. The SCMM in Mumbai is the place to be at!
2. The Sea
This is nature’s gift to us. Three weeks ago, early in the morning, I landed up running along the Gateway of India up to Radio Club. It was bliss! We may screw up our beaches, but the presence of the sea, even if we don’t see it for days on end, is perhaps the most important thing that makes Mumbai more liveable in and bearable than any other city in the country. I just wish we could take care off and use the sea better!
3. No Autos in the Island City
Every city in this country has been ruined by the presence of autos, Delhi included. While at one time, autos were a cheap way of getting around, the time has come that they disappear. That a good part of Mumbai is spared their agony is some relief!
4. BEST buses
No other city has such an iconic, well-oiled system running efficiently and more or less on time! The buses are by and large clean, the drivers, usually safe and the fares, reasonable.
Sure, Delhi now has large, fancy, state-of-the-art corporate hospitals and is now the leader in liver transplants, etc., but when patients, including those living in Delhi are stuck after third or fourth opinions, Mumbai still is the last word in a large number of subspecialties. I am not sure how long this will last, but for the time being, we are the city to come to, if things get too complicated!
If you have other thoughts or points of relevance, let me know!