Click Pic for Mumbai Street Gallery
Mumbai, is like a snake that is slowly shedding its skin and I can’t help but wonder if the old skin is not to be preferred.
It feels like a city in transition, transitioning into something eerily familiar and known, maybe losing a bit of its character in the process like so many cities in the west have done before.
There is much to like about Mumbai. Its confidence for a start, that comes with being the economic powerhouse of India and that the city feels generally upbeat and forward looking.
Women can go out and party until the early hours and get home without fear of being harassed or constantly starred at or worse, like in Delhi for example or other towns and cities. And Mumbai, being so cosmopolitan, flamboyant, creative and artistic also seems to be slightly more tolerant towards homosexuals (without advertising it) despite the country’s general more narrow minded approach.
Investment and construction work is everywhere, suggesting a city progressing like it was on crack-cocaine, yet nowhere is the contrast between the poor and the bling crowd harsher and more apparent than here.
The amount of security guards working in this city in front of hotels, shopping malls and more afluent walled off areas is nothing but Insane, not only aiming to minimising the risk of potential attacks, but by just being there, ensuring that the rich/poor divide remains also visibly in place today, tomorrow and the day after.
Mumbai is host to the second largest slum in all of Asia, Dharavi is the name, with an estimated 700,000 – 1 million people living there. It’s a city within the city, with numerous household businesses that employ many of the slum’s residents. The total annual turnover generated in this slum has been estimated at over US$1 billion [Wiki].
With Dhobi Ghat Mumbai also boasts the biggest open air laundry in the world, washing, drying, dyeing and fixing all kinds of clothes and textiles, collected from all over the city for hotels, companies, businesses and hospitals day in and day out.
Only families of the “washerman caste” are working here and, like the caste name suggests, the washing part itself is traditionally done only by men of all ages.
The sorry mistake we have made in the west that came with globalisation was the assimilation of our inner cities, making them almost indistinguishable from each other by placing the ever same shops, “flagship”-stores, and coffee chains onto our high streets.
Parts of Mumbai’s inner city seems to follow the same path, which is a real shame, as the so called “developing countries” that are on the brink of being “developed” would have a unique chance here to develop into something else, to learn from some of the misguided decisions we have made in the west, rather than striving to copy them.
It’s an exciting city nonetheless, far less exhausting than Delhi and far safer with its beautifully diverse population, full of unique characters.
I only wish that Mumbai could cling to its old skin just a little longer.