Mumbai- A Glimpse
February 4, 2012
"What is it like to live in Mumbai? It's a place I've always wanted to visit" are your questions. Thanks for asking me.
About living in Mumbai - you can judge my view from this- I must have lived for a few months and some times for much more than a year in many countries including USA, UK, Netherlands, Finland, France, in big cities and small towns. I enjoyed these visits very much. I had occasionally been offered regular jobs in these countries too.
But for my permanent living, some how I always felt Mumbai is most suitable for me (partly also because I am from India and have lived in Mumbai since childhood, so I find that most suitable). My wife also feels the same. My children who are just now in NY city, also feel the same and they plan to come back in near future.
Mumbai is a bit like NY city with in India (London also has a little of similar phenomena, though nothing like NY) . Given any corner of world, one can feel its tiny image in some corner of NY at least. In downtown NY often one can feel all these corners together. In Mumbai similar phenomena you can feel about people from all over India. India is a unique country with more than 20-30 languages (including those from Indo-European group like Hindi, English, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi etc. and Dravidian ones like Tamil, Telgu, Kannada etc.), people with colors in all ranges very black to very fair, face structures ranging from Oriental (almost looking like Chinese, Japenese), Caucasian (like European whites, I think that is the main face structure in India too, though colors range much more in India), Arabic type, African type, aboriginal type (that too is quite common face structure in India, with a little heavy face and darker color like them- but still very Indian structure too mixed).
Add to this religions and philosophical beliefs. perhaps half of religions in world may have started in India. But Indians generally do not think of them as religions. They think of them as parallel paths(philosophies or theories if you want technical terms) to reality. Most Indian languages do not have even word religion, the word generally used for religion is dharma which essentially means "that which upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe". People generally enjoy ideas from any type of philosophical thoughts and religions and rituals associated with them. Christianity is continuing in India from 1st century AD when St. Thomas came here. India must be among very few countries where it has continued uninterrupted that long. Some times Indians say you dig any where in India a few inches and you may find signs of some temple church or mosque or statue of some God or Goddess. Near my home on a footpath there is a small statue of Christ may be just about one feet high. Throughout day one can see at least 4-5 people praying there and those who passing by, walking or even driving on road, often fold hands and bow with respect, most of them not Christian.
You can see all these colors and face types or styles walking practically any where in Mumbai.
There are foreigners too but much fewer compared to say European or american cities, just now Indian economy does not allow them to be too many in India, over all one can live happily in salaries within India but they mean very little in International currencies, though things are changing with economy improving. In Mumbai English is as common means of communication as any other language. Most Indians any way know 2-3 languages.
Life is much more comfortable in Mumbai and active, quite a bit of cultural activities, restaurants etc. If you can afford a good apartment, that perhaps should be among most comfortable place in world, for easy living. You can have all automatic gadgets in your apartment to help you clean and cook together with home-helper (for cleaning vessels, even a cook if you want more) and driver etc. They charge very little and work happily with you, some of them become almost like family members and talk a lot about their family problems etc. (in past they used to live in the same apartment but now they live in their own places). My wife always feels, it is much smoother, easier and pleasureful to manage home in Mumbai than in USA, UK etc.
With sun shining for more than 9 months (rains are only in monsoon periods mainly in July- August, In Mumbai it rains almost 250 centimeters - a bit too much) and temperature around 25-33 degrees Celsius whole of year, weather is very comfortable. That gift I think India has almost for whole country, with Himalayas protecting it from cold air, almost whole of India has more or les similar weather and sun shining for 8-10 hours everyday for about 10 months in a year except for little higher and lower temperatures as you move away from sea.
Mumbai is not a tourist place, so not that much of touristic sites (there are some - for that type of things N. Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur or Madurai are great). There are many places near by even hill stations with in the city-suburbs, any way. But one can enjoy just this feel of cosmopolitan population and culture - commercial, media etc. It is in way both NY and LA together for India, it is commercially most active city in India like NY and it is glamour city with Hindi Movie world being there.
It is too large (population in city and suburbs about 20 million) with completely disorganized traffic. Though in India it is considered to have one of the most organised traffic. So it has problems too - some pollution, very slow traffic and so on. But occasional views of hills - where aristocrats live (or some very few slum-dwellers live) and sea shores, beaches, while driving on busy roads, give a big relief and respect for nature and human drives.
Subway train system (like underground in London- they are called local trains here) are the main traffic puller, buses are red like London. Both are efficient but have inhuman crowd. Taxis are very cheap and lots of them are there, almost cost nothing compared to London or NY etc.
It has a lot slums too. I remember hearing a foreign business expert once remarking- "India is very different. In other countries even in China, it is considered a bit shameful to be poor. Poor walk with their head a little low but not in India. In India they feel still happy to be part of society, they live in same areas where richest live and talk as lively. These and other similar things in India make me feel that it will find its own path towards economic development in a very different style from others."
Oh! I have almost written an article, I hope you enjoy and that is enough of glimpse. I see below a link for making it a hub, I never used this one. May be I will and add some photos too.