Glossary of terms for the uninitiated:
NoBo = North Bombay
NoMu = North Mumbai
SoBo = South Bombay
SoMu = (no SoBoite says Mumbai)
CeBo = Central Bombay
UpMa = Upper Matunga (also a South Indian delicacy)
So, I've done the unthinkable. As a confirmed South Bombayite, I've gone and rented a small North Mumbai office in Bandra. All hell has broken loose in SoBo. In the corridors of Mantralaya, the buildings of Marine Drive, the shady by-lanes of Malabar Hill, even in the filter coffee houses of UpMa, they have labelled me a turncoat. I am being treated like a politician who has crossed over to another political party (okay, that's not really an insult). But, dear reader, you get my point. I am being trolled for having drifted over to the dark side.
Some of the hashtags on Twitter are #daCunhaGoesNorth #SoBoTraitor #WhatDoTheBurbsHave ThatWeDont. This morning, my Parsi neighbour in Colaba refused to lend me sugar, "Go go, dikra, get some 'shakar' from your new Bandra friends."
I've taken to social media to
explain that I'm not a traitor going to Pakistan, I've not sold state secrets to Russia, I've not created a Ransomware that's attacking global ATM booths... or Zomato. I've merely rented a small 250 sq foot space in Pali Market, on a leave and licence agreement for 11 months.
A socialite from Breach Candy asked me the question that all South Mumbaikars who treat North Mumbai like it's the Hindi Belt wanted to, "Is your visa to the suburbs a multiple entry one?"
Alternately, acquaintances from Peter Dias Road, who saw me wandering around Mehboob Studios, enquired, concerned, "What men, lost your way? Town is in that direction!" pointing vaguely south.
I'm at a loss to explain this long lasting animosity in the city of my birth. From time immemorial, long before Bombay became Mumbai, long before Altmount Road had Antilia, there has always been this divide.
The average North Bombayite, sees 'townies' as rich, spoilt and privileged snobs, who don't have the right to a view, other than five-star restaurant choices or where in Europe to holiday — because they haven't suffered and toiled. They haven't travelled long distances. They have no clue where the closest railway station is. They've visited Indiana but have never been around India.
SoBo peeps have always regarded NoBo-wallas like Gulliver entering Lilliputian territory, like in a biology class, when you see creatures through a microscope, never encountered before.
For the average South Bombayite, the 'burbs' are a faraway planet; indeed, for many who live in SoBo, the Worli Sea Link is the Everest base camp of the 'burbs' — the small strip of terrain that divides Earth life from that found on Mars.
So yeah, dear reader, I'm caught in this conundrum, a bit like Arvind Kejriwal, politically: Where do I go from here? SoBo has rejected me, NoBo regards me as a part timer.
I have to rethink this decision: In the words of Shashi Tharoor, I have to ask myself, how farrago to find a workplace?
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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