Anyway, so to get back to the book, I read a line there that struck home. Here, let me copy it down for you.
The city encourages actors, thought Isabel, as probably all iconic cities do; look at the Parisians; it must be such an effort being so Parisian.Is that true? I mean, are we all really prisoners of the brands that our cities have become?
Following that line of thought, when in Mumbai, one must be smart and sassy and street-smart and also armed with that all-encompassing but not quite clear quality - bindaas. We must have a regard for time and a disregard for all things clean in general. We should consider Marine Drive to be the point after which the earth curves and one faces the peril of falling off the face of the planet. We must divide the city into two parts where the south is all things nice and the north is all things vice (well, not really but I do have a weakness for rhyme). We must be tolerant and spirited and brave. And overtly filmy.
And when in Delhi, the other city I know reasonably well, one must be prepared for fisticuffs over a scraped bumper, one must learn to look over one shoulder at all times if a woman, one must be a foodie and have political savvy. We must be boorish when we are not spouting class poetry and displaying obscene amounts of tehzeeb. When we are done doing that, we must bring on the obscene amounts of wealth and start to show it off in all earnestness. We should be bade-dil-wallahs and romantic and unpredictable and a tad dangerous. But the south must be posh and the north, not so much still. We must be gorgeous and dress well and appreciate art. And have fat weddings.
Gosh, no wonder then that I am neither here, not there. I love both cities and I hate them both too and now I really don't know where I belong. Maybe we just scatter pieces of ourselves wherever we live. I don't really know whether Isabel is right or wrong - do we really put a lot of fight in internalizing and then displaying the qualities that our city is supposed to define, a classic case of when in Rome...?
What about you though? What are the people of your city/town/village supposed to be like? Do you belong there?