A Tale of Two Cities

Mumbai and Indore are the two cities that I’ve had the privilege to live in. The first, I was born and bred in, and the second I’m currently living in. While Mumbai is the big city where dreams come true, Indore is the small city where everybody loves everybody. Each of these cities has its own beauty, although I must confess I might be a little partial towards Mumbai, it being my home city.

I have constantly tried to resist giving in to the charms of Indore. I still continue to do so. Change has never been a welcome guest in my life. I hate change. Sometimes, even when I know it’s for the better. And so even with this change in my life going from a big city to a comparatively much smaller one, I did what any other change-hater would do. I started finding fault with everything that was Indorean. Looking back, I realize it was just a waste of time and energy but it did make me feel better at that time. But now finally after a very long time, I’d like to think I’ve come around. I wouldn’t say I’ve fallen in love with this city and I want to spend my entire life here. No. That would be stretching the truth well beyond its limits. But, yes, I have made peace with this city. I now truly enjoy eating the various delicacies that the city has to offer (I’m a self-confessed foodie!). The attitude and the lifestyle of the people here which always irked me earlier, now merely amuses me.

One thing I’d noticed on my arrival here was that Indoreans either hated Mumbai or they were too very in awe of the big city. As time passed, I realized this obsession with Mumbai was on a massive scale. It was common to find comparisons made between the two cities in newspapers and radio stations. Worse still, I saw that the ever-growing IT industry, the increasing number of malls and awareness among the youth, has set Indore well on the tracks to becoming another big city like Mumbai. My guess would be another 10-15 years and Indore shall be another metropolitan city of our country.

This thought saddens me to a huge extent because as much as I love Mumbai, it is no Indore. The beauty of Indore lies in its simplicity, the warm and caring nature of Indoreans, and the peaceful and contented lives led by them. Where else will you find complete strangers striking up a conversation on a city bus, people going out of their way to help you find your way back home?

I’m truly a Mumbaikar, in the sense, I like my privacy.  I love travelling in BEST buses and in our locals in spite of all its maddening crowds (yes, I know how bad it can be. I’ve even ended up in tears in a certain Borivili local). I do not like it when someone tries to poke his/her nose in my life. In short, all of these qualities are typical Mumbaikar and very anti-Indorean. In Mumbai, people do not know each other’s names in spite of travelling together everyday, neighbours do not greet each other like one’s own family, and people mind their own business no matter what, which suits me just fine. But when I want a break from all the privately-guarded lives that we live over there, which place do you think I’d like to come visit? No prizes for guessing, it’s Indore.

According to me, it’ll truly be a sad day when Indore will no longer remain the place it used to be. I hope I won’t have to tell my kids that I used to live in a place like Indore at one time. Instead, I would love to bring my kids here to show them the beauty that this place is. On this hope, I’m going to say ciao.

-Lekha Kamat

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