February 16, 2020
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Cool Mid-Day Sun

Cool Mid-Day Sun
Outlook’s recent cover story on the "death" of Bombay has got at least one local newspaper all hot and bothered. Mid-week, Mid-Day carried a cover on "why the outlook has never been better for Mumbai" (Outlook, get it? Eh?). Curiously, it prominently features an Asiaweek survey of 40 Asian cities that ranks Bombay, at 33, worse than Delhi (29) and Bangalore (27).

Hello? And in their Sunday issue, Bachi Karkaria did a two-page spread to refute Darryl D’Monte’s pessimistic outlook. ‘Celebrate the spirit, bury the statistics’, it’s called. Which theme is captured in this nugget: "Bombay is different.... It has taken the vital step beyond a self-conscious urbanity; it has learnt to be cool about it."

Cool or not, the entire fracas reminds me of the year I spent as a Dallasite, all the way back in 1984. The Republican Party convention, endorsing Reagan for a second term as president, was held in Dallas that year. For a city defined always by three things—the TV soap Dallas, the glitzy but erratic Cowboys team and the assassination of JFK—this was a chance to show off something else. Whatever it was, every visitor was pestered with variations on "So, how d’you like Dallas?" The late Mike Royko summed it up in a bemused column. What he thought of Dallas, he wrote and I’ll paraphrase, was that it had too many people wondering what others thought of Dallas, too few just getting on with life.

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