Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fight Club

I've always felt that the way a group of people reacts to a fight gives an insight into the "city's" character. And the following are my observations:

Chennai: If a woman is involved in the fight, the crowd is larger than before. Typically crowds are bigger during weekends and holidays, and in non-peak hours! And usually the voice of the toughest-looking person or person with some Govt. authority (Policeman, Postman, Bus Conductor, Watchman) is taken as judgment. Abusive language, mostly in Tamil. And I am biased because it is my hometown.. So no more comments!

Bombay: No one cares. (Scares me, for what if I get involved in a brawl?) Recently a woman screamed at a man for slapping her derriere and what was the shocking result? He pulled out a gun and shot her 18-month-old son (who died from the bullet wound). And it happened not too far off from where I live. A couple of friends and I once had a spat with a taxi driver, there were a few interested onlookers, but not one came to take our side or his and no one cared. Even if any of us had been manhandled, I don't think we'd've had any supporters or 'willing' witnesses.

Delhi: Is probably the worst. (Opinions based on events dated by 3 years) I could scream in Gurgaon about some man trying to pull my handbag and feel parts of my body I'd not want him to even stare at, and no one would respond; even worse, there is no one to respond. Cars whizzing by, people ensconced in their own private security. Who is that girl? My wife, my sister or my mother? No one.

Kolkata: By now you'd've guessed that this city is my favorite! A fight, any fight, is a joy to behold. Especially if you are NOT heading for the hospital or the airport or client meeting. Traffic halts completely. Passengers, Students, Chai wallahs, Bus Drivers, Taxi Drivers, Motorists and any one else, young or old, male or female gather around the warring factions. Light their cigarettes. Buy khullad chais. Chew pan. Discuss it with points and counterpoints for an hour or so, until the fighting parties forget the original reason for the argument. Content with the ‘intellectually stimulating’ discussion, everyone leaves.

None of these compared to what I saw in a different city in a different country (Trenton, NJ & NYC, NY) Fights never last past the fifth minute and usually end with a few bullet wounds/deaths and/or knives and policemen. Why do we want to compare Mumbai to Manhattan, I wonder? Why this apathy towars others? Why this "I've gotto get to someplace and I don't care if I have to trample someone to do that" attitude? What are we running for? Why this mad rush?
Give me my abuses and traffic jams anyday. Give me my discussions and interested bystanders. At least I live to see another day, another fight!

"Louis: I have to say, this is my first trip to New York...not for me. The garbage, the noise, I don't know how you put up with it.
Carrie: Thanks. I had a great time.
Louis: Wait, you're going home alone? It's rough out there.
Carrie: Nah. It isn't so bad.
Carrie (voiceover): If Louis was right, and you only get one great love, then New York may just be mine...and I can't have nobody talkin' shit about my boyfriend. "
- from "Sex and the City"


  1. Superb way of looking at cities... Luckily haven't witnessed too many fights though.....

  2. wonderful post!!! loved it!!!

    since u have the priveledge of knowing so many cities so well, how about dissecting them on another topic?

  3. Love the quote in the end. Which is why even though I disagree with your take on Delhi and Chennai I shall refrain from starting a [umm.. probably not quite] intellectually stimulating discussion on it. 'Coz you see Delhi is my hometown and Chennai is yours :)

    Completely agree with Zee though... would be nice to read your views on different aspects of Indias 4 cosmopolitan cities.

  4. As I read your post, I was just wondering how it would be in my home town of Trivandrum, in Kerala.....I finally decided it would be kind of like Kolkatta... A lot of I'm-so-jobless-gimme-something-to-do lok would gather around the "battlefield", hitch up their lungi and interject the conversation with their bits and pieces of wisdom. This usually consists of very loud bits of shouting and the occasional profanity directed against the "warrior" of their choice!

    Awesome post......Loooooved it

  5. # Chaits: Thank God. I always manage to get myself in the thick of some action, esp. given my 'curious bystander' nature!

    # Zee: Thankie babe. Will take up that idea! Actually started off, and went all over the place. Didn't know how to end it.

    # Nutty: Yes, diff people, diff spaces. And pls note, not Delhi, that was Gurgaon. I have some fantastic memories of the rocking few days I'v spent at Vasant Kunj at a friend's place. And I know Chennai could be really taxing for someone who doesn't know a word in Tamil, though its trying to shed that image.

    # Bullshee: I SOOO agree! Have visited T'drum a few times and can relate to your idea completely. I love Kerala as a whole, and my dream is to buy a fantastic beach house in Alapuzha with a house boat to take off on the backwaters whenever I tire of the sea. Dreams, dreams!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. great observation. its true that crowd behavior in fights sure are different in different cities. kolkata specially gets so involved in anybody's fight. my friend witnessed this fight where a passerby handed his umbrella over to a stranger and joined in a fight just to test his muscles and have some fun. needless to say the stranger, and his umbrella were never seen again.