The first impression a visitor forms about a place depends on his or her experience at the railway station, airport, and bazaar. In a Mumbai station, you need not haggle with porters. They charge you reasonably. Auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers don't fleece you. You get in, the driver starts the fare meter and takes you by the shortest route to your destination. He promptly returns your change. In markets, shopkeepers are patient. In crowded electric trains, fellow passengers pull you in and help you with your luggage. People treat strangers well and guide them properly when they need help. What other courtesies are we talking about?

R. Venkata Ramanan,
Singanallur, T.N.

* * *

I do not understand what parameters were used by the Reader's Digest to conclude that Mumbai is the rudest city in the world. People from diverse cultures and backgrounds live harmoniously in Mumbai, helping one another in times of need. People must be really rude to call Mumbai rude.

Rathy Murthy,

* * *

Mumbai is where the cooperative movement started. It was also one of the first cities to evolve the concept of apartments. There is rhythm and discipline in Mumbai's life. The behaviour of a few cannot become a yardstick for measuring the rudeness or otherwise of a city as a whole.

I.V. Prabhakara Rao,

* * *

A few years ago, I got lost in London. I drove for hours with no chance of finding a way out of the city. Finally I found a parking space outside a small shop and asked the first Englishman I met to help me. He jumped into his car and asked me to follow him. We had to drive for quite sometime before we were out of the city limits. He left after shaking my hand. While on a visit to the palace of Mary, Queen of Scots, I felt a hand on my nape. I turned around to see a smiling guard in his traditional skirt. "The prize tag was showing," he said. It is not that we are rude; it is just that we are not helpful enough.

Titus John,
Tiruvalla, Kerala

* * *

In all cities, we have the rude, the polite, and the indifferent. No city is entirely rude or polite. Bangalore, for instance, is a city where people are generally very polite. But I am sure some would have had an unpleasant experience there. In Delhi, I was told, one can manage without Hindi. I found it very difficult though. But my brother vouched that everyone in Delhi understood and responded to his Canadian English. In Chennai, roadside vendors once safeguarded my bike throughout the night after I met with an accident. In the same city, my friend was robbed of Rs.5,000 in broad daylight!

A. Clement,