Does it annoy you when people behave like an expert on your city when they have only lived there a couple of years? This, I have identified, is a thing with me. (Clearly, I have many things. A side of effect of aging is the explanation I am going with).

A few years ago, a person we used to party with (this should be a new category like frientance) annoyed the shit out of me by insinuating that I wasn’t a true Bombayite/Mumbaikar/Person from Bombay (I am going with the former) because I hadn’t been to Barbeque Nation or some such. Well, excuse me, Barbeque Nation did not exist all the 25 years I lived in Bombay and I’d wager will not exist in the next couple of years (does it exist anymore?). I do not consider attendance at the Barbecue Nations of the world true markers of having lived and thrived in the city.

Now, of course, it is truly irritating when someone takes a position on your city that you disagree with. But my possessiveness does not end there. I find it annoying, albeit less so, when people claim to be experts even when they are saying something I agree with.

Like the other day, this girl went on about how she loved Bombay but hated Bangalore. What’s not to love about that? Okay, I don’t hate Bangalore; I just think Bombay is better. (Bangalore peeps don’t kick me, I have my husband for that.) But even though she was saying something similar to my own viewpoint, I found myself rolling my eyes.

Maybe because I didn’t agree entirely with what she objected to in Bangalore. More because I didn’t think that what she loved about Bombay rang true. And partly, because I didn’t think she was entitled to claim ownership to Bombay having lived there for such a short time (which I admit is rich coming from someone who has not lived there for quite a long time but I think growing up there counts and going back every year counts for something).

I guess it’s a bit like the infatuation-love distinction. For it to be love, you have to know the object of your affection and that generally takes time. A year or two in a city is not a long time. Hong Kong is a transient place and an oft-asked question is “How long have you been here?” Even then, at one year or two, you’re still considered a newbie.

I lived in Hyderabad for two years, I was born there and I spent many vacations there growing up. But even after my two years, I don’t think I an entitled speak authoritatively about it to people who had grown up there (forgive/slap me if I have ever done so). If I wanted to, I’d air my opinions heavily seasoned with humility. Except the opinion that I didn’t believe I could ever live there happily, which two years is good enough to form.

I am more illogically this way about Goa too. With regard to Goa, I would naturally defer to people who live there. But as a Goan and one who spent practically every summer there growing up, who has family and an ancestral home there, I will claim precedence over those who flocked to Goa during the party season. I fully acknowledge that the (touristy) party scene in Goa completely threw me when I first encountered it and I am happy to be led by others when it comes to that. But beyond that, if you’re the type that goes to Goa once or twice a year to party, I probably know more about it than you do seeing as it is (at the risk of sounding senti) steeped in my blood. Just as although I am hardly typically Indian, I definitely know more about India that a foreigner who has done the odd trip to India.

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