Before we go there, though, just for a moment let's look at some other major city match-ups around the world; Tokyo vs. Seoul, Shanghai vs. Hong Kong, Moscow vs. St. Petersburg, Sydney vs. Melbourne, Sao Paolo vs. Mexico City, Toronto vs. Montreal, Stockholm vs. Copenhagen, Singapore vs. Taipei, Milan vs. Rome, Barcelona vs. Madrid, and of course in the U.S. we have New York vs. L.A. But we also have many other, lesser rivalries in the U.S., (with typically the larger of the two in the match-up not even recognizing it as such, or just chalking it up to wishful thinking); Chicago vs. New York, Minneapolis vs. Chicago, Portland vs. Seattle, San Francisco vs. L.A., Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, Baltimore vs. Washington D.C., etc. Reading each one on the list above, and I'll bet most of us have a natural gut-instinct towards one or the other, even if we've never been to either. Why is that?
Here in India, it is a true rivalry, however, between the two biggest cities, and when you tell Indian people you've been to both, everyone wants to immediately know which is your favorite. They might not be exactly thrilled that you are here at all, but they want you to like their city best. Before we came to India, I honestly had no pre-set thoughts about which I'd like best, save for input from Indian friends, but after a few days in each, we definitely formed some pretty quick opinions.
Mumbai is a combination of San Francisco and L.A. - the entertainment and hipster city on water, but also with the Indian banking and financial hub (?). Delhi is a combination of NYC and Washington D.C. and all government, big business and heavy industry.
Some other quick comparisons:
Mumbai - gritty, very crowded, scary and horrific traffic, and much more poverty. But also more laid-back and with a less aggressive and safer feel believe it or not. People stared but just out of curiosity (and to pass the time stuck in traffic).
Delhi - cleaner, more open space and wider streets, nice greenery, gardens and trees, many more monuments, government building and temples, and traffic that actually felt civilized. But also much more uptight, aggressive and edgy. People here stared (and for quite a while) just to let you know they see you...and to remind you that you are on their turf.
I want Suzanne to also add a few observations, but I am not sure which I would come back to? The cheater answer would say we like the best parts of each, and to combine them, but that's not fair so I'm not sure which I'd pick right now. Of course, it would also not be fair to make any assessment until perhaps we saw other major Indian cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad or Kolkata, but we are not visiting any of them this trip.
We will get our chance to see some rural sights and smaller cities though starting tomorrow on our week-long train ride across the northern states.
Delhi was on the original list of places we would stay for an entire month. The first question out of people's mouths when they heard this (even if they were from Delhi) was 'Why, what are you going to do in Delhi for a month?" We took this advice (?) to heart and spit the trip up a bit with 2 weeks in Mumbai and a few days in Delhi, plus our train trip. Being a lover of all things Indian I couldn't imagine what was not to like about both cities.
As Mike says above, Delhi is a greener, cleaner city compared to Mumbai. It even feels like the pace is slower and more relaxed. And thank goodness they started the city-wide initiative to reduce horn honking a while back because it is working. PSA's along the lines of the Don't Text & Drive. Don't Honk & Drive. (In contrast, however, in Mumbai every truck has this painted on the back bumper, "HORN OK PLEASE" - Mike).
Now it's very unfair for me to compare the two cities as we lived in an apartment complex in Mumbai and we are at a nice hotel in Delhi, but my gut feeling is that it would have taken me twice as long to get my groove on here in Dehli. People in Mumbai really didn't care that we were there, while here in Delhi we were actually asked if people could take their pictures with us (as oddities! - Mike). I told Izzy it was as close as she would get to the paparazzi.