"All These Mumbai People"- Why Bombayites Segue into Bombay 'Baat-Cheet'

Edited by: Ananya Khandelwal 

 

What separates Mumbaikars from everyone else? Many interviews and interruptions later I could provide a reason for this phenomenon.

 

Has this ever happened to you: You newly meet a group of people on a video call, some of them from India, and halfway through introductions, perhaps when a second or third person claims they are from Mumbai too, the conversation takes a sharp halt? Suddenly, Sanjana gets cut off by excited Mumbaikars who cannot stop discussing the intricacies of their hometown, and it turns out to be the longest, most unnecessary conversation you were ever a part of. 

 Maybe it's the limited interaction from zoom-screen to zoom-screen, but the sheer frequency with which people from Mumbai veer off into conversations of "Where do you live?" and "Yes! My nani loved the chaat from that place!" is more noticeable than ever before. As a Bangalorean who loves Mumbai and has part of her family from Mumbai, I try to relate to their fascination of vada pavs and cobble-stone roads, however, I find myself left out of every conversation that begins with "Andheri West" and am singled out when they call Mumbai 'Bombay'. 

Their Bombayite affinity surely does not arise from merely knowing a person who also grew up in one of the most populous cities in India. After many Q and A’s with my Bombay friends, I have deduced that perhaps the source of their Bombayite affinity all boils down to their in-depth knowledge of the ins and outs of the city: everyone there knows every single vada pav shop in every single gali. The sense of familiarity brought about by the mutual agreement that Theo Broma brownies are the best makes them feel like their relationship goes way back and makes everyone else wait for them to finish whilst wondering whether South Bombay is merely a place or a haven. 

One might argue that every other city is just as thoroughly explored and well-known by most residents. However, though this phenomenon is prevalent mostly in our generation, it stems from Mumbai in the 1900s, the time when my dad who lived in Mumbai was just a young chipper playing cricket in the gali with his friends. The intimate social life they had was mainly visiting the best and most well-known shops and restaurants together, which one can see as being the most immediate form of interaction in the current generation’s Mumbai until the lockdown

hit. The attraction to other Bombayites is perhaps a quest to find out if their social circles have a prospective intersection, and if it already has one, then where? How? When? And now in every Zoom meeting one hears them talking excessively of Socials or Kitab Khana, compensating for not being able to go in person for meet-ups. 

The diversity of interests cannot subdue the curiosity of the Bombayites. A city unified by the many Starbucks’ and paan-waalas, many schools with intersecting social circles, a culture of meet-ups and established tastes, it truly prompts all other citizens to ask the Bombayites to please get a room.