Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Tale of two cities

Rationale for the existence of this post:

"It's like my mother always told me - [snip] If you ain't got nothin' nice to say then don't say nothin...." However, the other day, I was having a conversation with a friend, and the topic of whether to be or not to be diplomatic sprang up. The specific example was something to the tune of whether it would be fine to say[recount] something bad[not nice] about another person who you've had a bad experience with. There were 2 separate lines of thinking from there on in. One of them said that the revelation would portray the person under question in bad light[possibly unnecessarily], and would prejudice the listener[in this case] against the other person. So, it would be better if the person were to form a 1st hand opinion of the person under question. The second one said that if you have had a bad experience with someone, and the person who you are currently in conversation with is someone who you possibly know, then it is right that you warn him/her by narrating the incident to him/her. This would possibly make the other person more aware of the former, so that when confronted with him/her, he/she is prepared to have his analytical cap on, and pass everything that is said through that, just so that he/she does not fall into the same trap as the other person did.

Whatever path you choose is entirely your personal decision, and possibly open to further discussion[maybe not]....
"Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
Theres still time to change the road you're on."
Notwithstanding, I have chosen to take the latter, and hence this post has come into existence.... Oh! the justification.... It's getting to me!!!! So, here goes nothing....

I've been living at Pune for the better part of 3 months now. I know that 3 months isn't a significant amount of time to be passing a judgement on anything non-trivial such as a whole city, but for now at least I would like to stick to this analysis of mine. How many times have you stayed at a place for while and thought that you are done with it????

Pune is where I work, and earn the cash I don't deserve ;-) Mumbai is where I come to, and on bended knees spend it all.... So, in that sense, Pune is the producer, and Mumbai is the consumer. For starters, Pune isn't as big a place as Mumbai. There are not as many things to do and places to see. Of course, if you consider Pune as a city in itself, then it's a really great place, especially if you take into account the fact that it is the 2nd largest city in Maharashtra; 2nd only to Pune. However, as it so always does turn out, the difference between the 1st & 2nd in a rat-race is so significant that the winner takes all, and the rest are left scrapping the remains. The situation is probably not as bad as this, but I guess you get the gist of it.

I generally tend to avoid comparing entities, such as cities, etc.... because each one of them is different in it's own little way, and has a charm of it's own, but since I've lived in both and found life quite dreary at Pune, I feel the urge to get it out of the system.

I believe that it's not the place, but the people that make up the city, and more so the spirit of the people therein. It would not be fare to say that it's the people of Pune that have made it boring or any such thing because all seas have their share of sharks.... It's just that living there(note the usage of this word!!!!) has been such a pain, and the things that I took for granted here in Mumbai like the bus conductors, and the taxi/rickshaw-wallas, etc.... are coming back to haunt me. People atr Pune are just looking to take advantage of you for any reason what so ever. More like the devil has taken it upon him to do the needful. The other day, I was on the station buying a packet of biscuits(GoodDay Cashew.... yummy!!!!) which adorned the printed price of Rs. 12.00/- However, the vendor felt otherwise, and decided to demand 13.00/-. I thought for a while and handed him over the extra 1.00/-. However, almost immediately, I asked him what the extra rupee was for. He mumbled something which I'm pretty sure even he didn't understand. Anyways, after a while of arguing, and constant pestering from my end as to who was charging this extra money, and who it would go to, he took the rupee, and handed it over back to me; almost as if asking me to shut-up and leave the place. This attitude is seen even in the rickshaw-wallas, who cheat you using the following means:

  1. charge extra outright - demand for more money almost at random.

  2. possess a refurbished copy of the fare/tarrif card.

  3. tell you(and then expect you to believe) that the fares have
    signifiantly gone up overnight - without there being an outcry among
    the people....

Now, the reasoning given to me by the station vendor was that it was okay to ask for a rupee more since it probably didn't matter enough to me to be bothering about it, but it meant quite a bit for them. Firstly, the value of a rupee is the same no matter who is holding it. It's just the value to the person that is holding it that's changing from person to person. Secondly, if I were from outside of the country, then I probably wouldn't even know that I've been cheated, and once I did find out, it would leave a bitter taste in mouth, and these things do count in the larger picture....

I'm sorry to say that if a city needs to come up from the dirt, then the people of the city need to take action, make and be made aware of these happenings, and then do something about it. I don't see this happening because they are too stuck up in their own infinite life loops and people around them that they have become indifferent to the happenings around them. This is true about Mumbai too(and about any big city), but there exists a small difference as does between a smile and a grin. There is just so little that separaets them, but yet they differ by so much.... Another telling difference between the 2 cities is the public transport system. All the while that I was here at Mumbai, I kind of didn't realize that it was so great and well managed. It always so happens that you need to get to the interiors to appreciate the beach[literally even!!!!]. In Pune on the other hand, everyone has their own little carts which they thrust around, and get from place to place. It's just the non-locals that have to manage with the public transport which is not that great as compared to Mumbai.

All said and done, maybe it's just a case of me not being in the right place at the right time. Just maybe -- Pune is not for me right now, or I'm not for it. Maybe I'm not seeing it from the right viewport. It so happens that people would rather be at a certain place at certain times in their lives.... Again, I'm not ruling out the possibility that the problem is with me, and it's me who is the one who is stuck up, and is suffering from inertia of the older city.... And thus, another bitchuing session bites the dust ;-)

In any case, I can hear Pune singing out to me....