Recently I was utterly humiliated, with my dignity taking more abuse than Harman Baweja at the box office. This is because I was referred to as ‘the boy who lives near Vasai.’ I’ve never been so insulted in my life, and this includes the time I was told I looked like Ajay Devgn.
What’s so bad about that, you ask? For starters, I’m not from Vasai. Vasai is 500 light years away from my house, which is near Vashi, in Navi Mumbai. And as a Navi Mumbaikar of more than 14 years, I do not take kindly to my well-planned home being mistaken for a far-flung western suburb, where the only form of entertainment is betting on who will fall off the train first.
This particular mix-up was understandable, since the person responsible has lived in South Bombay all her life. But I’ve faced such ignorance from all corners of Mumbai, including statements like ‘You live in a village’, ‘Do they have Internet there?’, and my favourite, ‘Isn’t New Bombay like, in Pune?’
I have no issues with townie ignorance because honestly, if I could, I’d live in that incestuous little bubble. The Bandra bubble is fine too, because it’s perfectly acceptable to compensate for daftness with hotness (the cornerstone of Sherlyn Chopra’s philosophy.)
However I’m amused when people living in pisspot suburbs start showing off. Take Andheri, a gracious description for which would be ‘the fungus-ridden armpit of Mumbai.’ Yet I’ve heard a million ‘gaon’ jokes from people there. I’d reply, if only their brains weren’t so addled from inhaling exhaust all day.
However, Navi Mumbai’s major drawback is that it is deathly boring, thanks to an abysmal sex ratio and a general lack of hangout spots. To come here expecting a fun social life is like going to Iran looking for a gay pride parade.
Every once in a while, though, the Force-Field of Boredom does shatter. Recently, a friend and I were hanging out on a hill that is popular with walkers, rock-climbers and amorous couples playing Tongue Twister. We were cribbing about how nothing exciting ever happened in Navi Mumbai.
All that changed when, on our way back down we came upon a car just sitting on the road, burning. That’s right — on a desolate, dark little path was this car, being consumed by violent flames. You can imagine my reaction upon being confronted with this scene of destruction. I believe my exact words were, “Awe-some! A burning car!” (If you’re thinking, what’s so awesome about a burning car, no offence, but you’re probably a woman.)
Guy logic dictated that we walk towards the car, which turned out to be empty. Then we did what any good citizen would’ve done — we hoped for an explosion.
The flames leapt high and wide, and then... nothing. It turns out Michael Bay lied to us. Burning cars do not perform exploding backflips, and every inferno does not have Megan Fox running away from it in slow motion.
But it was still exciting, and Navi Mumbai got its groove back, if only for an evening. The owner looked bemused. It could’ve been worse though. He could have been living in Andheri.
Ashish Shakya co-writes the satire show, The Week That Wasn’t. Sometimes he’s even sober while doing so.