Sunday, April 30, 2006

Impressions of Mumbai

From Mani Rathnam’s blockbuster movie to the city’s famous dubba-walas, I had heard and read so much about the city, but was never able to visit and evaluate the city myself. Until now.

Mumbai, to me, seems like a huge maze that you just can’t stop to admire - admire about the contrast that life here is for different types of people; admire how India’s largest city thrives amidst all the chaos, with mornings starting at 5am and a never-ending nightlife; admire how a city with a population that’s about the 4th largest in the world runs with paltry infrastructure; admire how there could be a city that provides everything – literally – round the clock; admire how everyone is immersed in one’s own life and have no time to think about anything else.

In short, I’m spell bounded. Not because Mumbai is huge and rich and I’m seeing stuff that I can’t probably find anywhere else in India, but because life here is so different from what I was used to and what I’ve seen and heard till now. Once you land your feet here, you just can’t be surprised to see people wielding Raybans and Ferragamo accessories ruffle past you in a BMX X5 into a jazzy mall at the same time as three shabby looking kids pester you for a couple of least-denomination coins. You might think it sounds like a line from a guy who’s never been in Indian cities, but the contrast here is so striking that you can’t shy away from it. As one of my friends put it, with all the nightlife and multitude of avenues available, the only thing you’ll regret is not earning more. I guess these regrets never tone down any point of time in life. You always want more.

And what’s even more surprising is how nobody ever complains about how difficult life could be unless you are blessed with a fat paycheck. I mean, you might be earning a couple of 4 lacs per year and lead a king’s life in most Indian cities but you would find yourself to be a no-one in Mumbai. Money here doesn’t have half the value it has 50 Kms further away. And don’t even talk about sub-urban trains. I still can’t figure how on earth people travel in these trains in the peak morning rush without complains. Millions of people spend about 20% of their life traveling. Or inside one of the vehicles in some traffic jam. The clock here seems to start a couple of hours early and runs 3 late by the end of everyday. I guess you get used to things beyond a point. We can probably call it institutionalization, as told by Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption.

Personally, I suddenly find myself amidst concrete jungles. To me, a view of a perfect home was always a single house set amidst lawns full of flowers where kids and puppies frolic around. That was how I was brought up but it now seems to be a distant, unimaginable luxury. And what’s striking is how an entry as a tenant into one of these hemmed-in apartments could be terribly difficult, almost a test of patience. You need to produce everything from your passport to appointment letter to your ration card to your PAN card to quality as a tenant. And neighbors don’t have an iota of second-thought to knock the door at 11.30 in the night to enquire who you are and how you secured admission in the ‘society’ despite being a bachelor, as our broker insists not to call ourselves bachelors but just ‘employed professionals’. Whatever!

Lastly, for the sake of record, I don’t especially like blogging from a browsing center, but there seems to be no solution for the time being.

15 Comments:

At Monday, May 01, 2006 5:31:00 PM, Blogger Jam said...

Hey there Govar,

Mumbai seems to have been a culture shock to you, to say the least. Just give it some time and I m sure the whole experience of being a Mumbaikar will grow on you. In the meantime, pray that things don't get any worse than they already are ;-)

Cheers.........jam

 
At Monday, May 01, 2006 7:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not really shocked et al da, except for the 'becoming tenant' part which truly bowled me twice over. Everything is smooth... its just that you HAVE TO stare at the difference here. :)

Lazy-to-login-Govar.

 
At Tuesday, May 02, 2006 4:29:00 PM, Blogger Dexter said...

dude, this is just the start. Bombay will change you and things will get better(or worse depending on how you look at it :) )

 
At Tuesday, May 02, 2006 5:16:00 PM, Blogger Vimal said...

Hi govar, I do agree with u on the social difference aspect - nowhere else is the difference so vast.
U will get over the trains after some time as most of us did. If u get adjusted to the food and travel, mumbai is a great place to be for bachelors.

 
At Tuesday, May 02, 2006 6:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm yeah, but I get a feeling that my post sounds like one with a bit of a sour tone, probably coz I didnt write much abt what I like... nevertheless, not willing to feel guilty for sth I did in 10 mins from a browsing center. :-P

Lazy-to-login Govar.

 
At Wednesday, May 03, 2006 11:23:00 AM, Blogger Riddle Of The Sand said...

Mumbai is a drug!

The more you stay there, the more reasons you will find to go somewhere better, but at the same time you will not want to leave the place.

It was tough for me to leave Mumbai after 6 years. Had to do it.

But still, sitting here comfortably and enjoying a luxury life, I still yearn to be back in the race in Mumbai.

PS: If you are looking for 'peaceful' out of the city locales, just let me know where you are put up and where your office is. Probably I could suggest you some of the many 'corners' of Mumbai that is 'far away' from it.

I still feel wierd calling it Mumbai. For me it will always be Bombay (not Mumbai), VT (not CST) and Sahar airport (not Chatrapatti Shivaji Airport).

 
At Thursday, May 04, 2006 12:45:00 PM, Blogger Chandoo said...

govar...
keep digging. you find better things in bombay everyday of your life. be it fooding, experiences, people, places or anything else :)

Enjoy

 
At Thursday, May 04, 2006 5:44:00 PM, Anonymous Govar said...

Hmm yeah waiting for all u experienced folks to guide me into the fun zones of this city. :)

 
At Friday, May 05, 2006 1:19:00 PM, Blogger Riddle Of The Sand said...

You could start with checking out Dynasty.

It is a chinese restaurant. Located in Santa Cruz (W) near St. Mary's.

For pastries, check out hotel Mirador, in Andheri (E). It is behind Solitarie Park (hint: Crisil Infra and Criinfac have their offices here). They have a pastries shop on the first floor. Try the sandwiches if the pastry is out of budget. Good place to come with a date (there are many more better places though).

As I said, this is just starters ;o)

 
At Tuesday, May 23, 2006 11:13:00 AM, Anonymous nirmal said...

walking up and down fort, working out of a heritage building, a real nightlife, women walking along as safe at 3.00 am as at 3.00 pm, sharing a BEST bus with the ceo of that mid size company, the neighbourhood fisherwoman, that dabbawala on a break, the parsi whose wife had taken his jaguar for grocery shopping and that really gorgeous receptionist at the hilton.... Mumbai is one city I really love. I think any city where a 60 year old lady gets up in a bus to offer a seat to an 80 year old man can survive floods, bombs and sanctimonious striking doctors and still come out smelling of roses.
Nirmal

 
At Tuesday, May 23, 2006 5:36:00 PM, Blogger amitsinha said...

boss , mumbai is no doubt the most lively city in India. People are workaholic and alcohlic. It takes a time to settle to Mumbai,s vada pav and local trains , but once one gets used to it , Mumbai becomes the most comfortable city for a struggler.
Atlast , I remember a billboard sign of DNA , which said "I am a Mumbaikar from Manipur"and I truly agree with it. It accepts every one who comes to the city , and everyday so many people arrive in Mumbai .

 
At Saturday, May 27, 2006 3:16:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

@Nirmal: You surely are infatuated with Mumbai. Welcome here! :)

@Amit Sinha: I dont disagree... Mumbai really has the capability to absorb people - and the influx is the witness. I just hope there is some sort of stop to the migration simply because every city has a limit and Mumbai, for one, seems to have gotten there.

 
At Thursday, June 01, 2006 10:45:00 PM, Blogger Riddle Of The Sand said...

Since Amit just mentioned vada pao, thought I'd tip you on the fact that you can get one of the best vada paos outside Mithibai College in Vile Parle (W).

A little further, next to Cooper Hospital, is Amar Juice Center. His cheese garlic roll is very good. But he is even more famous for his pav bhaji and juices.

Keep hogging ;o)

 
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