Whether the place in question is your country of origin or somewhere entirely new, moving always requires some form of adjustment. From culture differences to tastes, lifestyle, and so on moving to Mumbai required a lot more than brushing up (still a work in progress) on my Hindi skills. While one post isn’t nearly enough to do justice, here are some notable differences that I’ve found to exist between life in London & Mumbai:
- Manners aren’t vocabularised. After living in London for 8 years and developing a habit to say please and thank you before and after almost anything, this was hard to get my head around initially. Lack of usage of these ‘magical’ words came across as insincere, and in the words of Stephanie Tanner, “rude”. Over time, I’ve come to realise that just because gratitude is shown without fuss, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist at all.
- The use of the term ‘madam‘ is a used to address a female with respect and although it’s common practice here, it still makes me cringe to be referred to as one. Hearing someone older than me call me ‘madam’ solely because of class differences makes me feel very uncomfortable. At the same time, the term probably rolls off their tongues just as easily as the words ‘mister’ or ‘missus’ do mine.
- Going to the cinema is an educational experience. Believe it or not, I learnt my country’s anthem at the cinema. As an attempt to forge unity and an emotional bond between people of India, the national anthem precedes each movie screening. Consequently, members of the audience are encouraged to show their respect by standing up during those 2-3 minutes.
- Life is a lot more comfortable here, and by that I mean hiring drivers/house help/washing lady is the norm. I still cook my meals sometimes but it is nice to have the option to delegate when laziness kicks in. Also everything is literally a phone call away. Run out of milk or need packet of pens desperately? Just call your nearest dukaan-wallah (shopkeeper) and it will be delivered to your home within an hour.
- Unless you make a conscious effort to be active, life in Mumbai can be very lazy. Whereas in London I would regularly walk to and from the gym, supermarket, bus stop/tube station, up & down Oxford Street and so forth, my journey time in Mumbai is spent in a car. Both private & public transportation are both affordable and readily available, which is why walking long distances is hardly common practice. Also the state of the roads here leaves something to be desired.
- Eating healthily is surprisingly accessible here. Although we don’t have any Whole Foods or WF-equivalent here, we do have various unprocessed snack options. For example, roasted chickpeas, peanuts, dhoklas (savory ‘cakes’ made from steamed rice & chickpea flour) and freshly roasted corn with the option of chaat masala seasoning, salt, or lemon can all be bought from most street vendors. For those who enjoy fizzy drinks but are not so much a fan of their notorious ingredient list, fresh lime sodas are the drink for you. These are as popular Coke in the west and are essentially soda water with lemon juice. For a sweeter (savory) option, you can order it with sugar syrup (salt) although it’s just as refreshing plain. Alternatively, fresh coconut water is also always an available.
Which city do I prefer living in? That’s as silly as comparing a Chanel and Hermes…I’d be happy with either (hint hint )!