Although I still consider London home, I can’t believe it has been over 2 years since I’ve lived in Mumbai. While the 730+ days has truly flown by, I still get the ‘How do you like Mumbai’ question. I won’t lie, there are some things about this city which I probably will never get used to:
shitfeces on the road when I walk on the streets
- Pollution, both air and noise
- Traffic jams and the excruciating honking
- Value for time is nonexistent: 5 minutes could mean anything between an hour to a month
- Lack of privacy: This seems to be common in most households in India. People are constantly coming in & out of your home/ringing your doorbell. After a while, it’s a bit suffocating.
- The dreaded floods during the monsoon season from June to September
- Beggars darting in and out of traffic, banging against car windows
- The sporadic release of English films
- The lack of serene, spacious, uncrowded parks & the mere freedom to just walk
- It’s not London
In spite of all of the above, I still respond with an answer along the lines of ‘I love it, and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else for the time being’. For whatever flaws Mumbai might have, its plus points definitely make up for them:
- Convenience: Whether you choose to be one or not, Mumbai turns you into a lady of leisure. Domestic help is the norm here, which means I don’t worry about finding time to cook a meal, washing my laundry, catching the bus/train, etc. Also if I need something at 10pm at night, chances are its literally a phone call away.
- Fresh diet: The variety and quality of fruits & vegetables in Mumbai is remarkable. I have no choice but to only eat foods which are in season, and therefore taste optimal.
- Relative prices: I love being able to regularly indulge in massages, blow drys & manicures/pedicures without worrying that I’m breaking my bank balance
- Its proximity to certain countries: It’s merely a 3-hour flight from Dubai and 5-hour flight from Singapore
- Sky’s the limit: Forget what Jay-Z says about New York: Mumbai is the ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made of‘. I have one friend who’s opened a dessert bar, another who’s set up a design studio and a cousin who designs sarees. There’s little in the way between turning dreams into reality.
- Hindi: Not being able to speak your native language is kinda tragic. While my Hindi skills could still use plenty of brushing up, they’re far better than when I first got here.
- Everything exists side by side: You can shop at a mall or you can venture into local markets. You can spend over $150 per head at restaurants within 5* hotels or dine to your hearts content in a dhaba for under $3. You can easily hire a driver or ride a local black & yellow cab…there are no boundaries here.
Despite the number of times this city has made me want to bang my head against a brick wall, I really shouldn’t complain. I have a good life, good job, and am surrounded by family & friends. And if anything, it’s taught me that any city where you land up in life ultimately boils down to what YOU make of it.
What do you love/hate about the city which you live in?