We were fed countless information about Mumbai during our lectures and seminars. In groups and as individuals we discussed the British colonial influence, the liberalization and the growth of Mumbai as a world city. Through secondary data, reports, videos and statistics we examined the poverty that is home to Mumbai. Others, fellow course mates seemed apprehensive. They worried about dining, accommodation and any Global disease they may pick up during the week-long stay. On the other hand, I couldn’t even contain my excitement. Studying the extremes of rich and poor, urbanisation, globalisation and movement of people; that to me is Geography and that is why I picked this course when I was 17. I finally felt that I was learning the Geography that had interested me.
After spending a week, we returned on the 18th December. Looking back, I don’t know what I had expected. Probably another version of Kathmandu maybe… Mumbai was so much more than the statistics I had read or the weak portrayal through films such as Slumdog Millionaire I had seen. It was a city that thrived, a city that dreamed and a city that buzzed. More than the poverty, I was in awe of their high-rise apartments, office spaces and the incalculable malls littered across the city. Yes, the traffic did test my patience but what lavish cars that roamed the city. These are things that the academics and even Bollywood does not record well. The largest “slum” Dharavi was probably the best area we uncovered during our few days there. It’s unfair to call the settlement a slum; it’s a mini-city that directly impacts the everyday working of Mumbai. The people there are as hard working as those in their fancy suits in the office blocks along Marine Drive.
I learned so much from Mumbai. In some ways, I saw Kathmandu in Mumbai but I also realised that it would take many years for Kathmandu to come up to Mumbais level.
PS. Would totally visit again. Next time, for shopping and to eat eat eat!Join Lex on Facebook! Read More: The Gurkha’s Daughter – Stories Is Priyanka Karki The Next Big Thing?