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Mumbai: a city of dreamers
A portrait of Mumbai and the aspiring minds it pulls in from across the world.
January 25, 2019
A month spent in Mumbai is a month spent in a city of dreams.
The city lures independent young minds from across the world with its gorgeous ocean borders and sparkling downtown nights. As a new girl in the city, Mumbai not only toughened me up to adulthood and independence, but it also taught me how to take a moment and reflect amidst the chaos of a commercial town. I interned in this city over the summer, and it left me with lasting professional and sentimental experiences.
Home to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Reserve Bank of India and the National Stock Exchange, Mumbai has continued to develop financially in sectors of commerce, textile and trade since the colonial era. The corporate sector is one which gives the city its charm. It attracts countless entrepreneurs to take on jobs in some of the world’s best firms, or to gain exposure in the bustling business culture. This attraction extends to people from the corporate world, as well as wide-eyed students like myself.
According to The HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, Mumbai expats earned an average of $217,165. The global average wage among expats in San Francisco and London weigh in at $207,227 and $107,863 respectively. It is no surprise that these high wages draw in people from across the globe, and provide the city with a diverse range of innovative thinkers.
This city is also home to Mumbai University, a college that enhances the creative growth of students in ways most colleges in the country can not. Music, dance and arts are fields that the university offers students to provide exposure to the robust cultural tradition that India has to offer. Home to the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai gives young minds a chance to be exposed to some of the finest works in theatre, dance and music; not to mention it is home to Bollywood–the high-grossing Indian film industry. Prithvi Theatre, Mehboob Studios and Maratha Mandir are some of the sites to visit when you’re looking to expand your artistic horizons.
Mumbai transportation is traditional. Traveling in a hot black and yellow taxi to save Uber money is not as bad as it sounds, even with the humidity. The local drivers will not only save you money with their shortcuts but will always have a story or two on hand for when you’re caught in traffic. My home was roughly three miles away from the internship office, but it usually took me about 45 minutes to get home due to rush hour.
A fond memory of mine was the day I heard the story of a kind taxi driver. After 15 minutes of searching for a taxi, an elderly man in a black and yellow cab offered me a ride. He was a humble gentleman, who told me he had fathered four sons and had nine grandchildren. He told me that he used the money he gained from taxi driving to fund the schooling of his children, who are now grown. So I asked him why hasn’t he retired yet, and he said that he had a special love for the city. Everyone comes to Mumbai for the grand success but very few enjoy the simple life it has to offer as well.
The food was another great part of living in Mumbai. Eating the typical Street food of Cutting Chai (tea which is a little overboiled) and Vada Pav (a bun filled with potato stuffings and lots of Indian spices) was the perfect portable meal. Traversing the older areas, you will find old Iranian bakeries famous for their apple pies, Shrewsbury biscuits and Bun Maska (bread and overloaded butter). Whether you enjoy a seven-course meal with the finest of kitchens in the country at The Four Seasons or simply eating roasted corn with some Indian Masala on the oceanfront, there is food that caters to everyone’s palette.
“The cities are full of pride, challenging each to each—this from her mountainside, that from her burdened beach,” Rudyard Kipling said.
With these words, Kipling not only describes the geographic range of Mumbai but also shines a light on how any cosmopolitan city in the world challenges its residents. From the elite areas to the slums, Mumbai is best recognized in pockets. It provides comfort and opportunity to people from every background.
Email Isha at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Akshitalsha.