Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities

Mumbai has always had a deep fascination for me. Ever since my graduation, I have always harboured a desire to live and work in Mumbai. Unfortunately things never worked out. Each time I would look for a job in Mumbai, I would get a good offer in Pune. Finally, through the organization that I work for currently (and have been working since 2009), I shifted to Mumbai on 03rd Dec 13 to manage a new project. And the city did not disappoint. Here's my take on the differences between Pune and Mumbai. 

Pune is the clear winner here. At its best, Mumbai is warm and pleasant. As Pu La once said, Mumbai has only 2 seasons - summer and monsoon. Nothing else. And that's quite true too. Even in the midst of December, I really didn't need the cool leather jacket I had carried with me to Mumbai. I gave up the pretext of wearing it in 2 days. And now, in March - the weather has settled down to a muggy warmth during the day and a pleasant coolness during the night. On the other hand, Pune weather (though it has deteriorated a lot over the past few years) is still better than Mumbai. There is still a chill in the morning air. There is still a pleasant fog over the Karve Nagar neighbourhood (where I stay) in the early morning.

My Location: 
Now here's where there I am in a bit of a quandary. If I consider my parent's point of view, Pune wins hands down. There's a medical store, a grocery store, a doctor's clinic, a bank, an ATM and a sweet-mart right beneath, opposite or beside where I stay. All they need to do for daily supplies is walk down the one flight of stairs. Things aren't that convenient here in Airoli. Six flights of stairs and then a walk towards the main square (approximately 200 metres) will give me most things I require. The reason for the quandary is; things that are important for me are located in both cities (a tad more convenient in Airoli since my trusty Avenger nullifies differences of small distances). My office is very close in Airoli (3 kms as the bike rides); whereas it is at a distance of 16 kms in Pune. I got restaurants close by, I got the railway station close by, I got a petrol pump close by and I got electronics stores and a market close by. A tie in my mind as I do need to consider my parent's too in the equation. 

Mumbai is the clear winner here. And I have tangible examples to back me up. The apartment complex where I live in Pune is full of people who can do nothing but bicker about each other. All the time. Every chance they get, they are at each other's throats. I cannot believe the level of animosity that can be harboured if you have too much free time on your hands. On the other hand, in Mumbai people don't have that much time to take an interest in other people's lives. Its live and let live. At the same time, its not too cold and distant as well. I had a toothache today morning and my Mami had half the residents of my building searching for painkillers in their homes. Quaint. I can give you countless other examples of how people in Pune waste too much time in other people's affairs. In fact, I can write a book about it. But this is neither the forum nor the time. The level of social interaction I had in Mumbai is much higher than what I had in Pune. I felt the desire to talk to people, to meet them here in Mumbai. I was becoming quite the misanthrope in Pune.

Mumbai wins on SO MANY levels, it is hard to believe. Compared to Mumbai, Pune is still a small-town full of hicks. All the development that's happened in Pune, all the big roads, malls, multiplexes, restaurants, lounges and whatnot have not managed to eradicate the small-time and narrow thought process that characterizes Pune. In Pune, Shops WILL NOT open before 1000 IST, shops WILL close for 2-3 hours in the afternoon, shops WILL shut down by 2100 IST. Change WILL be a problem, courteousness WILL be non-existent . . I could go on and on. There was an instance when I had a severe stomach-ache at night (around midmight). I was luckily in Mumbai. The kind doctor who stays here on the 5th floor adviced me that it could be appendicitis, told me to get medication. Luckily, I did get a medical store open at that time! I slept that night, woke up, went to a diagnostic centre to get my sonograph and blood test at 0900 IST, got both results at 0945 IST, went to the doctor's clinic right opposite my building, got a confirmation of an inflammed appendix and was on my way to the hospital (got the surgery done in Pune though as my parents would be best situated to provide logistical support from there). If I had been in Pune, I would have not been able to get medical attention so late at night, I would have to wait till evening the next day to get reports and the day after to get diagnosed. In Mumbai, all this happened in the space of a few hours. Pronto.

Public Transport:
Need I say anything? Pune isn't even in the race when it comes to public transport.

Comparing all the above factors, man am I glad to be out of Pune!

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