Two years in Delhi (alright, almost 2 years) and I was ready to come back to Mumbai. I knew I would like the city more. Appreciate its freedom and space more. Dance to its buzz. Fall in love with the sea again. Cherish the BEST.
But what I seem to be doing the most is schooling my thoughts and expressions. Hardening them against all these people I thought I had left behind and come back, instead, to bigots and hypocrites, who more than any other litany, almost always greet me with ‘Welcome to Maharashtra’ instead a welcome home.
In the last one month that I have been here, the biggest divide I can sense is one of ‘them’ and ‘us’. “Good thing you came back to our Mumbai,” they tell me. “Maharashtrians should stay in the state and do something for the state. No work for others.”
“It’s a good thing that Raj Thackerey is reviving the Sena. Who will fight for the Marathi Manoos?” Does not matter that he is a criminal, harbouring more and rearing more. No matter that he has brought one of the biggest mill lands in Mumbai and while we watch another open space die, it’s good that he is not a Gujarati or Sindhi or Punjabi or anything but a Maharashtrian?
And this is just one instance. Rickshaw drivers. Shop keepers. Landlords. Employers. Employees. All are glad that people belonging to Maharashtra are returning to their hearts and homes.
Either I never saw it coming or in the last two years things have changed here. It feels alien now. The divide is much more pronounced now. Or at least feels more pronounced now. Where is the cosmopolitan, I-dont-care Mumbai? Where are those people who made it a rocking city? Have they fled to return to their homeland leaving this city astray? A city is not made of buildings and political parties and flooding patterns. It is the people that give Mumbai its very essence but then am sure all know that right?
I want to wash my hands off this attitude and this mentality but then that is the easy way out. But its not easy fighting with other 30- and 40-year-olds who think like this. I cannot make an argument because it is not a thought process I know.
God forbid if we look at the country as one? That surely would be a crime.