A Tale of Two Cities: Mumbaikars and Delhiites Embrace Their Local Quirks

A Tale of Two Cities: Mumbaikars and Delhiites Embrace Their Local Quirks

By Arunima Rajan and Puja Disha Bharwani
Don’t avoid the bustling chaos of modern city life: use it to your advantage, and your career will thank you

Mumbai is home to 20 million people, making it the most populous Indian city. Mumbaikars are described as free, creative types who are open with their thoughts and ideas. It is not only the commercial capital of India, but a vibrant centre for art. Not surprising: Mumbai proudly lays claim to the jewel of the Indian film industry, Bollywood.  

Meanwhile Delhi is home to 16 million people and is the power centre of India. Here, dynasties hold the reins of authority. Of the two mega-cities, Delhi is known to be more traditional in the way things are done. But that’s not the only way these hubs diverge. 


Walk into a party in Mumbai and chances are the first thing you will be asked after being introduced to someone new is, “What would you like to drink?”

Compare it to a more formal atmosphere in Delhi where introductory conversations revolve more around your background. “Where are you from? What do you do? How long have you been in Delhi for?” 

Residents of both cities love socialising — but there is a clear difference between their reasons for it. Delhiites do it with networking and climbing the corporate ladder in mind. Mumbaikars do it mainly for fun and relaxation after work.  

Work hours in Delhi are shorter than in Mumbai. Why? Because in Delhi, a lot of business takes place outside the office. 

“For me, social gatherings often offer a good networking opportunity, even though I am an introvert,” says Divya, a marketing professional in Delhi who has cherry-picked people for a meet-up after her weekly yoga class.  

On a Sunday morning, Mumbaikar Shonali, a 39-year-old IT professional, sits atop a desk drinking her cutting-chai, yawning mightily. “I didn’t sleep even for an hour yesterday, as we had friends with kids visiting and I had to eventually sleep on the couch.” 

Shonali’s case is similar to that of many Mumbaikars, who regularly clock in more than 55 work hours a week and still happily entertain friends on weekends. 

Quick tip:

Got a work buddy? Good! Studies show work friendships boost your satisfaction by 50%, and “people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.” 

Making plans

Look at the clock; when you socialise is just as important as how you socialise. If you work in the Gurgaon or Noida area of Delhi, most people prefer to meet for after-work drinks in their office areas, instead of commuting home in peak hour traffic and getting stuck in the car.  

“I much prefer finishing up meetings over drinks after work and then heading home as opposed to heading straight home and spending a long time in the car,” said Rohan, a 32-year-old software professional in Delhi. 

Similarly, in Mumbai, where business meetings regularly take place over meals, people keep logistics in mind when planning their days. 

“If I have a meeting in Worli or Naramin point, I try to bunch at least two to three meetings back to back, so I don’t end up spending so much time commuting to get back to the office,” says 33-year-old business woman Harsha.  

Doing deals

Mumbai is home to hundreds of marketing firms, banks and of course the film industry.  

Delhi, being the political powerhouse, is where big deals happen. But only after consultations with the government and old business clans take place.  

Rohit, a 45-year-old energy consultant who has done business in both cities, describes the distinct ways of communicating in the two cities in marketing terms.  

“Mumbai is more B2C [business to consumer], where businesses talk directly to consumers to get their message across and deals done. In Delhi, it is B2G, where the G stands for government,” says Rohit. That distinct split affects everything from deal-making to job-hunting. So make sure you’re in the right headspace to make the most of your city.