Over the years, other urban centres in India have grown, offering better facilities/infrastructure/job opportunities, thus making it easier to make a move.
I know of several young couples who have jobs in Delhi and Gurgaon and they have a better quality of life than they would have had in Mumbai--perhaps they would have lived far away from the place of the job, and spent hours commuting. I see so many young teachers doing this all the time. Their husbands have good jobs but they just can't afford to live in the city and only the distant suburbs provide proper housing. Which puts tremendous pressure on them to commute and manage households.
Take the instance of my sister, who's in her in her 60s, moving from a plush three bedroom Cuffe Parade flat where she lived for over three decades, to Gurgaon two years ago. She got a duplex flat of four bedrooms, twice the size and half the price.
Incidentally her married son has been working in Delhi and living in Gurgaon for the past few years, so that was an added attraction. She is not close to markets/shops like she was in Mumbai but Gurgaon is a city of malls and has fancy stores and amenities. If you can afford your own car and driver, there is always somewhere to go to.
Mumbai has become an octopus and the tentacles have spread haphazardly. It is now like an overgrown village, which is also over populated. The infrastructure is crumbling and is over stressed. It is not able to meet the demands of its citizens anymore.
In the past, kinship ties were stronger and friends met, which does not really happen anymore. Hectic, fast paced life ensures that the bonds don’t grow stronger, in effect resulting in lesser loyalty for the relatives as well the city.
In the past, even if there was a better job prospect elsewhere, you wanted to be among your own and the new place was not as attractive as today’s new places are. Moreover, the cultural ethos of Mumbai has changed and there is an element of instability in day today life.
There are diverse/dubious undercurrents in contemporary Mumbai and perhaps the youngsters who still have not found roots have no compunctions in moving and forging a new life. Good schools, hospitals and the ilk are of prime concern, so Hyderabad, Bangalore, even Indore score over a Kolkata and Mumbai. What is the carrot, is what matters
Nandini Sardesai is a sociologist, teacher, activist, a Mumbaikar and a quintessential south-Bombay lover. This piece did not appear in print