Monday, April 20, 2009

A tale of two cities

Having been Down Under for more than 2 months now, I can say I have experienced Sydney at least to a level where I can write about it. I avoid writing first impressions of the city, because they may not be always stay that way over a period of time.

Nevertheless, my first impression of Sydney was that of a city 'complicated and laid back' at the same time. I arrived at my temporary accommodation in Sydney in a shiny black taxi, the address being fed initially by the driver in the GPS navigator. Cabbies here have to be told the exact address at the beginning of the journey, complete with the house number and name! The navigator calculates the optimum path to your destination and the cabbie follows it.

Being used to a stochastic life, back home in Mumbai; the city that never sleeps, closing down of shops by 7 pm was quite queer. Everything followed a specific system, even in places where there is no such need. My initial days were spent adjusting to the new lifestyle, the city had to offer. I had nothing to do in the initial few days, except searching for a permanent accommodation. Google maps were the only source of moving around the city, since I didn't have a GPS navigator. There's no relying on the local residents of the area for the address, because people hardly have any know-how about the area other than important places, although street names are clearly visible everywhere.

Over a period of time, one thing has struck me that Sydney (or Australia) is overly reliant on systems. It may be true with all 1st world countries, but it definitely plays down human efforts or mind. People are used to follow only a set system and being guided for smallest instruction by it. Any change to that is not easily comprehensible by the person using that system. Even in the service sector, systems are followed which leaves very little scope for a challenging thinking or decision making on the part of the person delivering the service. In the event of system failure, I believe the functioning of the city would be drastically affected. The city lives by the dictum: 'We are for the system. The system is not for us'.

Things diametrically change in Mumbai which follows: 'The system is for us. We are not for the system'. The systems in Mumbai are not a set of rigid processes, but are more or less interpretative processes, which encourages lateral thinking and snap judgments. That is why, even if systems are not state-of-the-art in Mumbai, people 'know' how to react to divergence from normal behaviour of the systems.

At the end, life is smooth, with 'risk-averse' behaviour prominently seen amongst almost all citizens. People prefer to be guided by safe systems with little appetite for risk.

More thoughts to follow...


sudarshan zanwar said...

mihir man the blog is really good and to be frank same was my 1st impression and experience in sydney.

Jui Chitre Deshmukh said...

good..Liked to read about the city unknown to me.. And, loved to read about Mumbai.:)

sneha said...

hey mihir.. nice blog..

mihir mulay said...


ha ha ha... its so obvious, isn't it?


more reads to follow!


thank you so much sneha, but owing to your very popular name, i am not able to figure out which sneha is it! ha ha.. you know... just curious!

Atul said...

Welcome back to your passion.
We expect loads and loads to fill this space from you.

shveta said...

Thank God you found your "pencil".Now there will be feast for us as usual. Keep writing. Its as good as breathing for you!!

sneha said...

hey mihir..
m sneha pachpande..
2nd yr thakur compz...
stil cant figure out.. hehe itss fine.. but nice blog..

mihir mulay said...


yup.. gotcha.. just sneha pachpande would have been enough!
nice to see u around here!

Shrirang said...

Interesting observations. I know there is heavy dependence on systems in the 1st world but I have not seen this attitude that "we are for systems" so prominent in the west. May be Australia is different !!!