I am back in Pune after a trip to the United States. It feels very good to be back home. However, New York is the quickest any city felt home to me. A place where I knew nobody but where I felt I knew every space. The people I met were strangers. But the subways I traveled in seemed familiar. I must thank a lifetime in Bombay for that.
Comparisons are odious. But inevitable. Ever since I was little, I’d heard that there was a place in U.S. that was similar to Bombay. And since I loved Bombay, naturally I’d love any city that resembled it.
My first impressions of New York City are, therefore, not objective. They come tainted with overspilled love. It’s a beautiful city, no doubt. But similar to Bombay? I’m not so sure. New York seems far too posh for that. It seems like a city you work to belong to. From my travels to the States, I somehow feel that, vibe-wise, Los Angeles is more like Bombay than New York. New York is too ‘fine’, I think. Too sharp and precise. Neatly turned out, edgy yet poised. Mannered and measured.
Bombay is not at all like that. It’s got chaos and sweaty grinning mayhem all the way. Some portions are eyesores but captivatingly so. In fact, I fell in love with Los Angeles because I found it to be similar – a sweet, candid ‘In your face’ atmosphere. It could very well be the sun. Maybe I find the comparison between Bombay and New York a little farfetched now because I can’t imagine Bombay without sunlight. Whether the sun is searing or soothing, it doesn’t matter. If in Bombay, will sweat. New York, on the other hand – man, that city makes you huddle and sprint for warmth! When I visited Los Angeles, it wasn’t cold. You didn’t have to wear jackets or scarves or mufflers or gloves. In fact, you sweat! You just shoved yourself in whatever thin, cotton clothes you found and went your way. So, of course, you didn’t find the careful style on the streets that the roads of New York have. But you found something else…something that you find on the streets of Bombay. Not just in clothes, but in mannerism as well. Something that I’d like to call the ‘cool uncouth’.
What to do? Maybe the sun makes us this way.