I am a proud Mumbaiite, Navi Mumbaiite now, but it's the same thing. Once you have spent the major part of your life growing in Mumbai, you are always a Mumbaiite, right?
As a kid, Delhi was my summer vacation destination with most of my maternal relatives and cousins staying in the capital city. And when we were in school, at least once during our Delhi stay the Mumbai vs Delhi argument would come up. I and my brother used to defend Mumbai (then Bombay) like how!
"It's the best city in the world. No other place is like Bombay."
"Delhi is so hot."
"We have the beaches."
"All filmstars stay here."
"We get tasty Vada Pav in Bombay."
"We have so many local trains."
We were innocent nerdy kids back then and the above points were all that we needed to win a 5-minute city discussion as a child. And then, next year we would be all excited to visit Delhi for Appu Ghar, Red Fort, Lotus Temple, Birla Mandir, Aloo Chaat, Iced Golgappe, Shopping, Movies, lots of Ice Cream and more importantly total fun times with cousins!
Things changed as we grew up. I remember the Chandni Chowk market area which we sisters used to visit when we were in college. Yes, it used to be crowded like our popular markets, yet some or the other guy would always misbehave in broad daylight. I can never forget that disgusted feeling that reduced my shopping and chaat trips in Old Delhi. Back here in Mumbai, back then, going to the markets alone was safe even late at nights. We did not know the term molestation. At least, I did not know. The arguments changed and were not opposed by our sweet Delhi cousins. After all, we weren't allowed, nor did we want to stroll alone on the Old Delhi streets.
"Delhi is so bad for girls. In Bombay, we can roam alone."
"See, we can't trust people using public transport here."
And also, "Our autorickshaws run by meter and never refuse to ferry us anywhere we want."
It was a harsh reality. Who knew, Mumbai would face similar things in the years to come?
A lot has changed in the recent years. The condition here in Mumbai too has worsened. Molestation and rape cases are all over the news. We are fighting to have policemen in our ladies compartments. We need mobile apps to ensure we reach home safe while travelling late. Pepper spray is a common necessity for girls travelling alone. It's sad.
There comes a point when boundaries don't matter, cities don't matter. The innocent argument of Delhi vs Mumbai does not matter. Delhi has all that Mumbai has and vice versa. But, women don't feel safe in both cities. As we grew up, this argument never happened once. The common discussion that happens is, "What's happening to the people of this country? Why are some people so inhuman, so disgusting? When will women of this country feel safe?"
And I can only hope, as we all are working together to make it a better country, that things improve, people improve, women feel safe, and this new discussion becomes redundant too. Will it?