Since the Mumbai vs Delhi debate never goes out of fashion though we sometimes descend to excessive romanticization (I don't believe anything is excessive btw) I want to join in.
Recently, I was on the metro with Tulip and there were no free seats. We wanted to ask all the women there where they were headed to so we could plan our future seating according to when they got off. This is normal behaviour in Mumbai where three women can be in line for a small seat to accommodate the edge of your bum. The corporate Gurgaon girl we asked had a bemused expression when we asked her but we reserved our place anyway.
Bombay is a city where you constantly have to make reservations, you have to be prepared for life. And what is interesting is that this enterprising spirit colours everything about life in the city, prized lines are recycled for every customer. Two examples illustrate this best, one in dreamy Chor bazaar, where they sell Bollywood posters and beautiful (but inane) trinkets, framed coca cola ads from the 50s, kababs etc. The other in Bandra : altey, Bollywoody and nice boutiqued, also old Catholic housey.
(Are you screaming Susan George aka gossip girl?)
So, way back in 2008 when I was still young and fresh, I went to a little clothes store in Bandra. I picked up an eraser (grey) uniform shrug that I practically live in. So I tried it on and the gold chained shopkeeper said with great earnestness , "You will look like the sweetest girl in college tomorrow." Naive (old) me was more flattered about the college part than the sweet part. He thought I was a student. I love people who think I am a student so I loved him.
Now, I went back there in 2010 to buy another inane shirt. I tried it on and walked out of the trial room to get the discerning opinion of beloved bombay fag and the same shopkeeper goes " You will look like the sweetest girl in college tomorrow."
What's worse is that Susan George and Monu Singh Dhillon, my blackberry babes claimed to have gotten the same "compliment" in the same store!
Lets move away from the yuppiness of Bandra to the bustle of Chor bazaar. Chor Bazaar is very bit like Paharganj but kinder, more authentic and less aggressive and MUCH more charming. Show (my room mate) and I rabidly sought exoticism away from our corporate (media) jobs and we would often spend lots of money buying obscure photographs taken in Poland, Coke ads from the fifties and depressing novels among other things. In an attempt to make our staid suburban apartment more elegant, we thought about buying antiques. Like everything else in Bombay, even antiques are manufactured and brand new "1745 English Docks" plates are placed on them, as if some British John of the East India Company got it as part of his wife's dowry when it was actually manufactured in some Ghatkhopar sweatshop by Bihari migrant labourers.
So, Muhammad, the henna haired store owner lures me into the shop by telling me he's got the perfect thing for me. I don't remember any details about this antique but I remember that it had a Robert Frost quote inscribed on it. " The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep."
I went back to the same market a couple of months later and he lured me in the exact same manner. "I have something for you that I just get a sense you'll like, " and offered me the same Robert Frost antique. (new piece)
Either he throws this at every self absorbed lost looking person who walks by or just at every person who walks by but the uniformity of this amazes me.