Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Me Mumbaikar.. or not?

I know its a little too late to be writing about this, but as they say, better late than never.

I know this statement is a little drastic, but I do feel 'disappointed' in Mumbai. The city of dreams, where everyone has a real chance of not just surviving but flourishing. The magical city with the sparkling seas, the lively night life, the hustle-bustle of millions of people, the city which is full of life! The city which gave me a house, a job, a life, and made me its own. The same city which took just a second to make me feel like an unwanted outsider.

They say that immigrants ruin the city. They don't follow rules, they encroach upon land, they dirty the town. While I agree that the poor people who come without a place to live or a job to feed themselves, end up cluttering the city, usurping land and sanitation etc. But it is not just a Bihari or a UPite who would do that: any poor person who migrates to Mumbai will do that.

Sure they break traffic rules in Delhi, sure the law and order is not so great in Bihar, sure there are riots in UP. But that's there, not here. When people come here, they all mould themselves along the fabric of Mumbai! Initially there might be settling down pains, but sooner or later we all merge in! I know I did!

But it was appalling to see that 100% of the readers of a leading English daily newspaper opined that ALL NORTH INDIANS flout law and should be thrown out of Mumbai. I think its not the region of the person but the education or economic status which reflects in his behaviour.

I have not encroached any land, I do not flout traffic laws, I don't board trains or buses out of line, I do not dirty the streets. It is the poor and illiterate people who do that, and they could be from any where in the country! Are you trying to tell me that a poor South Indian with nothing, comes to Mumbai and lives in a legal shanty, knows all the rules, and never throws a scrap on the road? Are you trying to tell me that the Marathi Manoos is 'doodh ka dhula' perfect and clean? That it is a genetic problem with a North Indian? I am sorry I do not agree.

I know this all is the work of politicians who have nothing better to do, but what I do not like is the anti-social effect it has on the minds of the people in the city. I now many people who felt ostracised in south Indian cities, and stuck to their own peers, never mingling with the South Indians in the big software companies in Bangalore, as they were not "liked" much. Ditto for the Non-south Indians who dare to settle down in Chennai: almost everyone is fleeced by the Auto-walas, and is forced to not be able communicate as people there refuse to understand Hindi even if they do.

Cmon people, every one loves their city, and dislikes those who ruin it. But lets not make it a matter of national integration by pointing fingers at communities. Have we learnt nothing from our bloody past? Do we not know yet that we are first an Indian and then a Bihari or a Marathi? We should all take responsibility for the upkeep of our cities, as an Indian. I should be equally concerned with keeping Delhi as clean as I would keep Kolkata if am a Bengali. Why should there be a difference at all?? After all, if Delhi is my Janma Bhoomi, Mumbai is my Karma Bhoomi, and I am grateful to it for everything it has given to me. And I will do everything it takes to respect it and take care of it. And I think most people feel the same way.

Except for those of us who really do not care about rules and the environment. They will do as they please, wherever they are. So instead of pointing fingers at their region, lets do something about the problem. Like remove all illegal constructions. Let the people find a legal place to live. If they find one, good for everyone. If they don't, they will go back! Same goes for jobs and education. The only criteria should be merit. If you have it, you get the seat/post. Not because you are a Marathi or a UPite. Those who deserve the jobs/seats will stay, those who don't will leave! Traffic rules being flouted? I think the 'mamas' are doing a great job of taking care of that. Those who break the law, get fined. They get fined till they improve. Even if they dont, they at least pay! Same for people not respecting lines... Cmon Mumbai, you know you do not let a person enter a line from anywhere... even if someone does it, none of us allow him to right? We are Mumbaikars, proud of our city, and very well armed to take care of it too. So why complain and fight on stupid grounds with our fellow Indians? You got a problem, solve it. Work towards finding a solution. Its possible.

You would wonder why I care to write all this, as I am not suffering. Well I am. I feel bad that my community is being generalised. Its not fair. I feel bad when the auto wala gets hit by the mumbaiite's car, its the car's fault, his auto is ruined while nothing happens to the car, and he still gets 2 slaps and lots of gaalis for being a 'north Indian' and he is told to get lost; I feel scared that the kind of treatment north Indians sometimes get in south India, it will start happening here too. I feel guilty, amongst the Mumbaikars, while I walk the streets with them, guilty for things I have not even done, for I can see the silent anger in their eyes for all those who are not originally from here.

THROWING OUT ALL NORTH INDIANS FROM MUMBAI IS NOT THE SOLUTION. tomorrow someone will have a problem with the Marwaris.. without them do you think businesses will flourish? Gujaratis, without them there is no Stock exchange or Diamond Market. Remember, it is all of us together who make Mumbai what it is. Each of us have a role to play. We cant do without any community. We all have to learn to live in peace and work out problems instead of wasting time in pacing blames. We have to know the hidden agendas of politics and not be swayed by it. That's what I think the city is all about. Being truly united in its diversity. That's how I have always seen it, that's how I hope it will always be.

Cmon Mumbai, give me a reason to say 'Mi Mumbaikar" and be proud of it!


lovish agarwal said...

Awesome elucidation of my feelings. You resonate my opinion on this issue. Actually I'm really glad that your brought up this issue in your blog.

Sugar&Spice said...

hanks lovish!

Yashika Totlani said...

Touche and Amen!!

I endorse most of your views expressed in the article here. "Unity in diversity" was the essence of being an Indian, right? Then why the disparity? All the work of dirty politicians trying to gain political mileage. You safely steered clear of mentioning the contentious 'Thackeray' word in the article and saved your blog the trouble of transforming into a political battlefield. Reflects on your maturity as a responsible writer. Mumbai is bewitching and enthralling... alas, if things keep going the way they are, it'll go down in history as another paradise lost...

You said-
"But it was appalling to see that 100% of the readers of a leading English daily newspaper opined that ALL NORTH INDIANS flout law and should be thrown out of Mumbai."
---I ask, and excuse my ignorance, which daily was this?!? Also, keep in mind that the views reflected in these polls are just the judgements of a small (insignificant?) part of the population that actually cares to vote.

You also said-
"I think its not the region of the person but the education or economic status which reflects in his behaviour."
---Couldnt have summed it up better! Two thumbs up, aditi :)

Nova said...

It is the poor and illiterate people who do that, and they could be from any where in the country!

I dont agree with this statement. You have a lot of "Educated" and "Literate" men and women also doing the same. It needs more of awareness and social awakening...

Sugar&Spice said...

nova... i completely agree with u... good point.

High on Life said...


I completely agree with what you wrote... is it just superfial that we all keep on repeating the phrase 'Unity in Diversity'... Well I think its something just on paper. The only time I see people being united is while watching a cricket match! I mean its easy to pass a blame on to somebody, or call people intruders... but how many actually sit back and think what exactly is the problem. I agree be it mumbai, bihar, kolkata, if the people are not sensitive or literate, then stuff like this can happen anywhere irrespective of the place!!!

Very well expressed! Keep it up!

Sugar&Spice said...

@ yahsika... thanks for teh comment...i did not deliberately steer away from thackeray... the flow of my thoughts was such, i never thought abt them... now that u pointed it out... im thinkin its weird... why din i think of mentioning them?? prolly cuz its not just one person or family i was addressing, but an attitude.

as for teh newspaper... it was mumbai mirror...

@ aditi. thnks dahlin! keep visitin!