A year ago, I left Delhi and came to Mumbai for career reasons. I wanted to write screenplays for mainstream cinema and Mumbai for reasons good or bad is the hub of all things ‘filmy’.  Having lived here for a little over a year, I’ve been part of countless Delhi versus Mumbai discussions.

I hate it. I hate the fact that I love Delhi, because I grew up there. I know the city that it is and not just the city that people in other parts of the country think it is. At the same time I love Mumbai too, there are things about the city that I completely adore and it is beautiful in its own way.

I’m the guy who’s defending Delhi, when people in Mumbai pass uninformed judgments based on what the media has fed them and also the guy who stands up to defend Mumbai, when people in or from Delhi crib about how terrible Mumbai is fed by the same misinformation.

There is a sort of elitist air with which people in Mumbai judge Delhi and there is a similar nonchalant air with which Delhi folk judge Mumbai. I’ve never been one to judge purely on the basis of class thanks to the city where I was born. Gauging individuals based on their hearts is something I’ve learnt from Delhi, much like I’ve learnt the art of patience from Mumbai.

But this article isn’t about all that; this was just the build up! Being a neutral entity I sat and pondered about what exactly makes me and my friends miss Delhi so much. I’m not going to be giving the regular reasons, rather the emotional void that drives those reasons.

Picture this: You wake up in the morning and it’s raining outside. Not raining in a pleasant way; it’s raining cats and dogs, the roads are clogged with water, trees have fallen on the road, cars have broken down… you get the drift.

So what do you do? Back in Delhi (and this is not universal to all firms, just most.) you get up and decide that you'll take the day off or that you’ll go later in the day. In fact when you reach office it’s going to be a perfectly acceptable thing to tell your boss. He/She won’t even ask you why you’re late, he already knows! He/ She is empathetic towards your problem. She/he understands the discomfort that you’d have to go through had you tried to reach office on time. She/he understands how, by just leaving an hour or two later you’ve reached work dry and ready to work.

In fact you might reach office and hear your CEO walk out asking if anyone’s ordered pakoras. That’s Delhi for me. A place where my comfort is whenever possible given more importance than a day’s worth of work. A place where I can always put in more work tomorrow, in fact I know I will have to and I wouldn’t mind. You can’t do that in Mumbai. Here you’re not really a person. You’re an asset, a piece on metal that makes the machinery work and no piece of metal is more important than the whole machine and what it does. This is just an example to explain the emotion, so don't read into it too much! It's not a perfect reflection of either city.

But yes, Delhi is that freedom and that prison, just like Mumbai. There is more joy in Delhi, there is more time, there is more life in every day and there is definitely more drama. Is it great for business? Not really! But does it truly hamper productivity to an extent that you can’t afford it? Nope! The sad thing is a lot of people in Delhi misuse this freedom and love. They forget what it means to behave professionally and what it means to work. In Mumbai life is all work and no play most of the time and in Delhi life is all play and no work for many. That's what we really miss, beneath all the layers. That and family :)

The city we really need lives somewhere in the middle. It lives in the hard work that people from Delhi are willing to put in and the limits they are willing to go to for their jobs, when they work in Mumbai. It lives in the seriousness, dedication and calmness that people from Mumbai are able to bring to work, when they work in Delhi. In more ways than one, we all really are what we become, when we leave home. So leave home. Soak in another city. Don’t be sour and bitter, see the good as much as possible. I know it’s been hard for me. But it’s not the food that you miss which makes Mumbai terrible, It’s not the lecherous eyes that makes Delhi terrible- it’s your perspective. It’s what you want to see in things at that very moment.

The first time I came to Mumbai I smelled perseverance, dedication, faith and hope. The third or fourth time I came to Mumbai I smelled the urine in the air, the dirt and the moist scent of disappointment. The first time I came back to Delhi from Mumbai I saw unruliness, lack of fear and the curbed lives of women in the city. The next time I came to Delhi from Mumbai I saw the love that people in Delhi have, I saw the warmth behind the cold and seemingly superficial exterior.

Delhi uses power and strength to shield its fragile, love drunk interiors. Just like Mumbai uses class and superficial modernism to shield its fragile self. Now, I don’t think either city is better overall. Both cities have things to cherish and despise. The question is… are you a hater or are you a lover my friend?

To Read Part Two Of This Story CLICK HERE.

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  1. Loved the post Rishabh!
    Specially the 2nd last para. It's so apt. When I went to Mumbai in May this year, my first thoughts were exactly as you describe it. Same goes for the thoughts on coming back to Delhi two months later. I don't know how the future visits would be and how I am going to perceive things, if any time soon I decide to move to Mumbai.
    I have read a lot of articles and posts on this Delhi vs Mumbai debate in the last 7-8 months since I started researching about Mumbai. Found yours one of the most unbiased and well debated.

    By the way, when I opened the link to this post and started reading, I thought until the end that it was another blog entry on the topic by someone who has lived in both the cities. Imagine my surprise when at the end I realise it's somebody I know :D

    1. Antarik :) There are certain people who I don't know too well but I can tell they have the same hunger I do. Mumbai is going to be perfect for you! And thank you :)

  2. A brilliant write up. From a blogger's perspective, profound and makes you think in several directions at the same time.

    1. Thank you Ayesha :) It's comments like yours that encourage me to keep on writing.

  3. I still remember filling sociology registers by simply copying it from the text book...and now THIS...Brilliant Rishabh!!

    I guess you feel the same about Delhi Vs Any other city in India. Delhi has some aura of it which can't be explained to others!!

    1. Thank you Tanisha :) And Delhi sure is something special. I think the city you grow up in always is...


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