At what point of time, do you become a local of the place you stay in? Clearly a rent agreement and a change in number isn’t all that one needs to feel at home. Especially in Mumbai where the locals have an intrinsic language, style and attitude, its tough to act the part with conviction.
So like new NRIs pick up an accent within a week of reaching the ‘States’, here’s my 10 step program to quickly adapt to this city and become an ‘Authentic Mumbaikar*’. (*Conditions Applied)
Caution – not to be read if you want to become a SoBo. This is for Central side acclimatisation only, “cause apun vahinj reh rela hai”.
Step 1: Replace ‘achha’ with ‘mast’ and ‘haan’ with ‘chalega’ in every sentence. Also be careful to change ‘jaana hai’ to ‘jaane ka hai’ etc for greater impact. Also keep a lookout for other new words to be integrated into your Mumbai-Hindi (such as kanda, batata, phootela etc). Remember theres a fine line between cultured and tapori, so choose your words wisely.
Step 2: Why say a word when you can pucker up and whistle to call someone you don’t know? Repeat 3 times each time to make the point clearly.
Step 3: Remember the 4 key seasons of the year. Mango, Monsoon, Ganpati and Peak Hour Traffic Jam. Know Your Mangoes Deeply. Don’t be foolish and mistake a Kesar for an Hapus. Predict rains with Nostradamian accuracy.. ‘Lagta hai kal pre-monsoon shuru hone wall hai kyunki cloud ka shape buffalo hai’. Visit 18 Ganpati pandals as a norm and don’t let anyone stop you from eating your second modak at any of them. Get stuck in traffic day after day and learn to channel your temper.
Step 4: Find out the colours of clothes to be worn on each day of Navratris. Don’t know how to? Search online. Whatsapp your friends. Or get a Navratri Costume Color app (under development). Do whatever you have to do but make sure you’re not the only yellow in a sea of navy blue on the 2nd day of Navratri!!
Step 5: Learn to love Mumbai street food. Paneer Triple Schezwan Cheese Pasta Mysore Masala Dosa is not a myth. Don’t ask fundamental questions about the marriage of Punjabi, Chinese, Italian and South Indian cuisines. Instead, appreciate the cosmopolitan spirit of this city and take a big bite.
Step 6: Want to act like a local? Then take a local. Don’t forget to wear your gas mask, bulletproof vest and tape your belongings to your chest. Don’t worry, knowing your belongings are safe will make the pain from yanking off the tape much more bearable.
Step 7: Insult every indulgence you can find. Makes you appear to be more down to earth. Now simply put, this is the opposite of being a Punjabi. So in case you are one, god bless your soul. Meanwhile, practice wearing rubber sandals to office, drinking cutting chai instead of a chai latte and scoff condescendingly when someone says they live in a 3BHK (such a waste when you can live in a 600 sq ft 1RK).
Step 8: Dance at every festival. Aggressive dance movements appease the lords and one must not lose the opportunity to do that at any time. Even better if you do that with loud music in the middle of the street. On a weekday.
Step 9: Be Resilient. Now everyone knows this is the city that bounces back. So don’t fall ill. Don’t even get injured. You know you’re better than that. Sneeze on your neighbours face just to prove your point. If you’re the one who’s been sneezed on, then act cool and go on reading your newspaper. (And if you’ve been thrown ink at, then walk with swagger up the stage and pose for those shutterbugs)
Step 10: Stick Together. This city has been through a lot so all us guys need to stick together and be one. So go out on the streets and be one. Humidity helps.
There you have it! My foolproof way of becoming a local in no time. Please exercise caution while following these steps. And please don’t call me in case you get beaten up (or get your face painted black).