August 25, 2007

From Bombay to Mumbai to ... ?

It was a normal travel routine for me. Boarded a fast Kasara local from Byculla station last evening. The train was more crowded than normal and I could just find myself enough space to accomodate my bulky body in a very congested fashion. Of course, the thoughts were to try and avoid the brunt of over-enthusiastic crowd that would get in from Dadar.

Before I could do much to get into a 'safer place', the crowd was all around me and I was trying to maintain my balance with atleast 3 people leaning on me from different sides, as the case with everyone inside that 'hell'. It is very easy for any body to lose one's cool when he is so very uncomfortable due to heavy crowd and resultant heat and suffocation. And then, at that very moment something happened - something that I personally witnessed for the first time in my life here in Mumbai.

An argument started between two guys, both stuck in some awkward position in the crowd and apparently one of them was pushing the other. A heated argument followed and voices were raised. The family members were referred to in the choicest of filthy words by both as is usual in such arguments. One of the two was shouting in Marathi. At one point, the other person tried to play smart. He 'complained' that he does not understand Marathi and sarcastically asked the other guy to talk in Hindi. That was it... The first guy got really very furious, as could me made out from his voice decibels. He kept talking in Marathi and blasted the other guy for not knowing Marathi in Maharashrta! He said you are an outsider and are sitting on our heads in Mumbai. We let you come in and that is the biggest mistake we did. And now you are polluting this place in a very significant manner! All this in Marathi... I was stunned a moment later when his 'speech' was responded by cheers and claps in the bogie!! The other guy was obviously tongue-tied.

I have never seen such a 'aamchi-Mumbai' incident ever in Mumbai. Of course such things do happen and the famous campaign by Shiv Sena is an example. But a real-life incident like this struck me. Though it is just a small incident but it is true that
such frictions based on insiders/outsiders are very much prevalent. I wonder whether these small incidents would result into some fracas soon in our daily lives. Hopefully not...

It is true that Mumbai has ceased to be Maharashtrians' land but it is incorrect to claim it that way at the first place, I feel. Ok, it is a part of Maharashtra but now it has evolved as the financial capital of the country and thence the influx of 'outsiders' is a natural progression. But unfortunately, when in a situation of rage, logics take a backseat and emotions rule the show.

All said and done, these sentiments and emotions, as reflected in this incident, is here to stay.

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