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Such capital cities

It?s a never-ending love triangle. Every time I?m in Delhi, I find it seductively charming. Each time I go to Mumbai, I vow to make it my home forever.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 05:20 IST

It’s a never-ending love triangle. Every time I’m in Delhi, I find it seductively charming. Each time I go to Mumbai, I vow to make it my home forever.

Delhi, being the national capital, is no doubt the more pampered of the two (in terms of infrastructure I mean). Recently, when I visted the seat of political power again after a period of about 13-14 months, I found the city had undergone great changes. The new Metro line between Dwarka and Barakhamba is nothing short of world class, new spunky malls have come up at the Anand Vihar bus depot, where a year or so ago, there used to be empty fields. And of course, the well-tarred roads are being redone all over again.

So much attention for the political capital compared to the financial one! The horrors of 26/7 fresh in my mind, when I see the Western Express highway in Mumbai being redone, I pray that the scenes witnessed last year — of man, cattle and vehicle being washed away — don’t revisit us this monsoon.

However, Delhi is not free of its own chaos. I find the roundabouts at Lutyens Delhi similar to the bureaucratic maze of the North and the South Blocks. So great is the confusion about directions that each time I venture out on foot in front of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital or the Gol Dak Khana, I am hounded by passers-by asking me for directions. Even a former chief election commissioner once stopped to ask me the direction to the house of a current Union minister on Mother Teresa Marg. The problem is many people still don’t know this new name for Wellingdon Crescent.

Coming back to Mumbai, I feel a strange affinity with the millions who throng its stations and bus depots. It’s a surprisingly disciplined chaos — unthinkable in Delhi, peopled as it is by an aggressive lot. But then, again, aamchi Mumbai, with her democratic mix of skyscrapers and slums, has none of the seductive elegance of Lutyens Delhi. As you can see, I am torn between my present ‘gharwali’ (Mumbai) and baharwali (Delhi).