My new home City Mumbai is a place teeming with humanity… the current population stands at approximately twenty one million people. it’s the capital of the State of Maharashtra, the most populated City in India and the 4th most populated city in the world. Being home to Bollywood and considered the entertainment and commercial capital of India it is no surprise that it is also the richest city in India.
What does all this mean for a poor little ex-pat like me? – well, no house for one thing…
If you want to live in an actual house you would have to consider living in one of the outer suburbs of the city and then face a commute of at least two and a half hours one way each day. But not to worry… they have found the most logical way to accomodate the ever growing demand for housing and that is by building up.
So we are currently living on the twenty first floor of a thirty two story building… and I have to admit the view is pretty cool.
The apartment is quite spacious (think NY style garden apartment)… of course we needed enough room for us and all our friends and family who have promised to visit (still holding my breath as the days are young yet). So we settled on a four bedroom.
The area we live in is called Powai and it is quite different from the rest of Mumbai because of the garden-like atmosphere which surrounds the buildings… there is also a lake and very nice town within walking distance… many shops here cater to the ex-pat appetites and we are able to find many of the home “staples’ which we could not live without LOL.
If you venture over to another part of Mumbai called Bandra – you will also find luxurious high rise apartment buildings but as soon as you step outside you are in the middle of the city and traffic and all that, that entails in Mumbai… some of it not so pretty… Bandra is home to many Bollywood stars and various Indian Millionaires. It has great shopping but you have to be prepared to walk. There is no central shopping place – one street is famous for jewelry and you will find store, after store, after store, all selling nothing but jewelry. Another street may be famous for textiles, or food or shoes even – you can lose hours and hours just wandering from one to the other. Bandra is home to at least two major international schools and has a very very active night life as the crowd that frequents Bandra is very cosmopolitan.
If we go across the bridge we will be in South Mumbai which is the older section of the town. This area was once the center of all activity in Mumbai… it housed many government offices and consulates and it was where the rich, pretty and famous went to see or be seen… most of that activity has now transferred over to Bandra and other sections of the city and South Mumbai like the cultured dowager it is, has been allowed to settle into a more genteel, retired type of existence.Here there are no Rickshaws so less traffic and aggravation on the road, and views of the ocean are to be had on almost every corner. Here you will find much older architecture like the very famous train station below and it is also home to the world renowned TAJ Hotel, which has hosted President Obama and in more infamous news – was scene of the terrorist attack that killed 170 people.
Here also is the Gateway which is Mumbai”s most famous landmark, it used to be a rough jetty and then when a King and Queen of England came to visit they made a monument in honor if their visit. It was also where the last British ship set sail to home after colonialism ended. and I understand that the best eating in MUmbai can be had on one of its streets but it is an evening affair and you will have to venture out after eleven at night… (haven’t done this yet… maybe one day soon). Here also the CEO of the petrochemical Giant Reliance, Mukesh Ambani has made his home and built the most expensive house in the world – valued at $1 Billion… My opinion is that it’s one of the ugliest pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen but hey – he didn’t ask my opinion and there’s no accounting for taste… LOL
This is just a small view of my new neighborhood and there is so much that I haven’t even seen – we’ll have a chance to explore them together in later posts.
Mumbai has many faces and facets, some breathtakingly beautiful, some ugly… some awe inspiring, some sordid… some utilizing amazing technology, and some painfully backward. The bottom line is.. love it or hate it, Mumbai may be many many things but it is never, ever boring!