Eavesdropping on Bombaywallah & Mumbaikar

August 25, 2006
Gaurav Mishra

I have been writing a series on Metroblogging Mumbai for the past few days: 'Bombaywallah & Mumbaikar Discuss'.

Bombaywallah and Mumbaikar are two friends who talk about everything that everybody else in the city is talking about. They exchange gossip about Bollywood debutantes, crib about civic conditions in the city, contribute their two bytes to the controversy of the day and sometimes, even philosophize a little. They always talk with wit and humor and a trademark detachment that allows them to look at a sticky situation objectively, so that they are amused, and not annoyed, by it. They are detached, but not indifferent or cynical. They love the city in all its unwieldiness, love the people populating its narrow potholed streets, love its heady mix of sights and smells and sounds, love its 24X7 pursuit of power and pleasure.

I often overhear them at public places and write about what they are discussing. In a strange, surreal ways, I always find them at a location that is relevant to the topic they are talking about. I once found them at the McDonalds outlet in the High Street Phoenix mall at Parel, discussing the Big Mac index that calculates the number of hours people in different cities need to work to buy a Big Mac.

I also met them outside a multiplex at Bandra where they gossiped about the debut movies of Omar Abdullah's cousin and Aamir Khan's step-sister and almost had a fistfight about whether they should watch the latest Bollywood blockbuster or the surprise sleeper hit from Hollywood.

I remember seeing them outside Mahim police station discussing sweet seawater and milk drinking idols. Irritated by the three hour delay in my one hour flight back to the city, I barely heard their discussion about increased security at airports, when I came out of the domestic airport almost at midnight a few days back.

I also think I overheard them as they entered their car and talked about checking out a new restaurant in Navi Mumbai named Hitler's Cross. And of course, my first memory of them is etched forever in my mind: on a gray, rainy day, Mumbaikar rushing Bombaywallah to the emergency ward, after he had had an anxiety attack about the potholes on Mumbai flyovers.

I know a little about them, but wish I knew more. Bombaywallah is tall and fair, with long flowing hair and a tendency towards putting on weight. Mumbaikar is shorter and darker, with a wiry, muscular body. I know that they live not far from each other: Bombaywallah on the Worli Seaface and Mumbaikar near Shivaji Park at Dadar. Bombaywallah's hectic 9 to 9 job and frequent flights in and out of the city leaves him with no time for either TV or newspapers. He looks like a consultant to me, with his light shirts, striped ties, silver Honda City and Friday night parties that extend into the wee hours.

I don't know what Mumbaikar does for a living. He dresses less formally, in dark button-down shirts and black jeans, and sometimes travels by local train. Although I'm not sure, he could be a real estate agent, a good one; I have often seen him in a white Esteem. He has a dry wit and a bend towards collecting news and Nepali khukhris. They are quite different, these two and I wonder where they first met, how they became friends.

I'm sure you have met them too, together or separately. If you haven't, look out for them; you will find them everywhere. If you overhear a conversation between them, do let me know; I might have missed it and will be happy to write about it. If you manage a glimpse into their lives, don't feel shy, listen and look, and tell me about them. Someday, I might write a novel about them and dedicate it to you.

Iím a Yenta, Iím Trishanku, Iím a Used Car Salesman.
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Eavesdropping on Bombaywallah & Mumbaikar


Author: Gaurav Mishra


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August 25, 2006
02:20 AM

This is really interesting, pray continue the series, with actual dialogue, and commentary.

Beau Peep
August 28, 2006
03:31 AM

The fuss over Hitler's Cross is artificially created. There is nothing much in it, certainly not more than some of the things that the world has already witnessed.

This is why.

August 28, 2006
03:52 AM

interesting views, Beau Peep, email me if you'd like to be a Desicritic and write here.

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