In New Orleans there was shooting and looting when the floods came last week. When a similar inundation struck Mumbai a month earlier, there was no violence, just free vada-pav.
Residents say street vendors passed out the vadapav to their fellow citizens wading through waist-high water is a sign that the disaster brought the city together rather than tearing it apart as appeared to happen in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The response seems to symbolise what South Asians say is the region’s familiarity with, and resilience in the face of, numerous natural calamities.
"What we are seeing in USA is complete chaos," said Farida Lambe, vicepresident of the Nirmala Niketan
College of Social Work which helped in relief and rehabilitation work during the Mumbai floods.
"My assessment is that many of the problems arose as the people are not used to facing calamities. They expect complete efficiency and find it difficult to cope if it does not come about."
Mumbai police commissioner AN Roy confirmed there were no cases of looting, arson or violence when the floods hit.
"Even stray cases of robbery were not heard or reported," he said.
India has regularly faced natural disasters from earthquakes, storms and floods during monsoon. As a result, it has developed rapid responses for shelter and relief that while not wholly successful for long-term rehabilitation, have enabled them to handle immediate needs quickly.
Lets pray that normality returns soon and wounds heal quickly in Mumbai and New Orleans.