How a South Indian's view on Mumbai changed in just 18 hours?Nov 09, 2018
When a working visit to Mumbai was scheduled, I treated it no different than my other usual work visits. It was when I was actually travelling that I realised that it had been around 20 years since I last visited Mumbai! I tried to remember what the city was like then and all I could remember was that I did not remember a lot.
Landing in Mumbai the first thing I noticed was that the airport was bang in the city and that was pretty convenient. It was not on the secluded outskirts like in Chennai or Bangalore.
Despite the conveniently located airport, I definitely needed guidance about the best ways to get around in the city. I’m not going to lie, I was apprehensive at first to directly ask people for help. I mean, who enjoys being dodged around?
Anyway, I decided to try asking people and I was glad I did. People were absolutely warm and actually stopped to help me out. They suggested good places to eat, they were happy to clarify doubts about addresses and they even told me the best modes of transport in the city. In a city that is as busy as Mumbai, people taking time to help another person was really heartening.
One of the best modes of travel that most people suggested was the local trains. They said it was definitely better than getting a taxi or an auto. So, I decided to go for it. I quite enjoyed taking the local train and I was surprised to see that people were standing perfectly in queues to get tickets. This actually made the whole process much quicker.
What surprised me, even more, was that people were standing in proper queues even at public restrooms. A city this disciplined! My immediate thought was that this city is definitely getting a lot of things right!
Even on the shorter Ola rides and auto rides that I took, the drivers actually returned exact change of Rs 22 and Rs 12, respectively. It made me think that there is just so much to learn from these hardworking people who seem to be the soul of Mumbai.
There was no shortage of amusements as well. I had a great time observing people of all kinds just doing their own thing with most of the people minding their own businesses. There were guys in suits relishing chai on a roadside stall, there were couples in coffee shops oblivious to the world around them, there were professionals who seemed to be in a hurry to get to work.
Of course, one aspect that had me gaping was the unbelievably tall skyscrapers. Oh my god, they were really scraping the sky! And the real estate prices were as tall as or even taller than the buildings themselves.
I did not find restaurants and eateries in as much abundance as in Chennai or Bangalore. But, the ones I found were good.
Probably the only thing I found a little strange was that almost all the people in the city spoke nothing but Hindi. For people who don’t know Hindi, communication could be a bit of a problem. Even educated professionals seem to prefer speaking Hindi over English. While speaking in Indian languages is good, for the large number of people who don’t know Hindi it might be more convenient if the people of Mumbai helped them a bit more.
As I got ready to travel back home, I couldn’t help but think how much we can learn from the way of life and from the people of Mumbai. One of the oldest cities in our country had definitely won my heart.
The city has a spirit that will make you fall in love with it. It brings together varied kinds of people in an inexplicable way. And, of course, the heritage of the city is something that needs to be carried forward.
Of one thing I was sure. This was one visit that I would not be forgetting for a long time!