‘You’re not a Mumbaikar. I am.’ said the girl to me, with more than a hint of pride. The unnecessary directness of her words surprised me slightly. However, since I live in Navi Mumbai and she wasn’t entirely wrong, I agreed with her.
Both technically and not, I’m not a Mumbaikar. I’m not born and brought up here and I did not spend much time here to qualify my insistence on being called or accepted as one (not that I am trying to either).
Ever since I set foot into this city I’ve seen and met many locals who’re quick to use this term, wherever they can, to prove that they belong here. Navi Mumbai, which in reality is an extension of Mumbai and provides better infrastructure, better recreational and other facilities and considerably bigger homes to the so-called Mumbaikars, is also regarded as another planet.
I fail to understand the glamour behind it, if any. What is this oft-repeated term made of?
What and how long does it take for a non-Mumbaikar to become and be called as one with sincerity?
Isn’t ‘I live in Mumbai’ the same as ‘I’m a Mumbaikar’? Or not?
What about the thousands and lakhs of non-Maharashtrian people who’ve been living in this city for years? Are they Mumbaikars too?