Mumbai has been my home for over 13 years now. There is nothing special about my story. I am a Malayali married to another Malayali working in Mumbai. I accompanied my husband after our marriage. And now I call myself a Mumbaite.
Mumbai is a far cry from my native village in Kerala. The first time that I arrived here, I was puzzled. Every alley looked the same. Every street was crowded. For someone whose spatial skills are pretty basic, getting around the city wasn’t easy for me. But trust me, I never got lost because Mumbaites are helpful people. They are extremely polite to women. I have traveled by crowded buses, trains, rickshaws and cars. No one has ever misbehaved with me in all these years. I am not saying that every person that you meet here is an angel. That certainly isn’t the case, but most people are kind and helpful.
Language no bar
Language is never an issue here. When I arrived here, I couldn’t speak Hindi at all. Now I speak it reasonably well. My inability to speak Hindi or Marathi never posed any problems for me. In Mumbai if you can speak at least one language, you will survive. That language doesn’t have to be Hindi, Marathi or English. It can be any language. In every office, you will find at least one person speaking your language and you will find several of them on every street.
Why you will love Mumbai
Mumbai isn’t the best city in the world. It is far from it, but I love it in spite of its shortcomings. You will also feel the same if you stay here for over a week.
Mumbai is modern, yet traditional, sophisticated yet modest, generous yet tough, flamboyant yet humble. Some of the best people I met in my life, I met here.
Mumbai will test your endurance levels, and sometimes your patience too, but it will never disappoint you. From the moment you land here, you will start seeing life from a different perspective. India’s richest and poorest people live here.
Hutments co-exist with skyscrapers. Mumbai caters to the rich and the poor alike. Got money to spend? Mumbai has luxury hotels, pubs, nightclubs and restaurants. Travelers on a tight budget can also get by here.
Every day, thousands of people from all parts of the country arrive in Mumbai looking for a job and a bright future. Mumbai absorbs them all. There are Bengalis, Punjabis, Madrasis, Malayalis, Kashmiris, Sindhis and Kannadigas among them. Once they land here they forget their regional identities and become proud Mumbaites or Mumbaikars.
The city is bursting at the seams, but it does not complain. None that I know ever went back from Mumbai with an empty heart or an empty wallet. Most migrants will ultimately make this their permanent home. Some will relocate to their native place after working here for 20 and 30 years. And once they are gone, they long to be here again. When they are here they will complain about the noise, the dust and the rush hours. Yes, Mumbaites find a lot of problems with their city. But once they leave, they will start missing the same noise and crowd they once disliked. It is a strange relationship. Just like you become a part of Mumbai, Mumbai also becomes a part of you – a part that you can’t get rid of.
Mumbai is the most happening city in India. Here 24 hours aren’t enough when you have so many things to see and do.
Mumbai is a mini-India. You will find people from all over the country here. They use many different languages to communicate with one another.
Mumbai is a lesson in endurance.
Mumbai will bring out the best and the worst in you. If you can survive here, you will survive in any part of the world. Cities typically lack a heart and a soul. Mumbai, surprisingly, possesses both. Here, every man that you meet on the street is your bhai (brother) and every woman is your bhabi (elder brother’s wife). An elderly man is a kaka and an elderly woman is a kaki.
India’s richest industrialists and Bollywood celebrities live here. Humble hutments surround their posh dwellings. Mumbai is a phenomenon. It is something that you won’t understand until you experience it yourself. The first time that you arrive here, you will be shocked. Then you will find yourself intrigued and before you even realize it you will have fallen in love. You might despise the dust, the crowd and the noise that symbolize this city, but you can’t hate it.
Got lost in Mumbai? No worries. Ask anyone you meet and they will make sure that you are back on your track. Mumbaites are eager to help. They want to ensure that you are safe in their city. So, most of them will go out of their way to help travelers.
Yes, Mumbai has its shortcomings. No one said it is the best city in the world. It isn’t. But you can’t question its resilience. You can’t question its spirit. Mumbai is positive. It is vibrant. It has braved floods and terrorist attacks. Mumbai can falter. It has tripped many times, but the one thing that I absolutely love about this city is that it will pick up the pieces before you can blink. And it doesn’t sleep. The streets never become empty here.
Mumbai is chaotic, but it is not a lawless country. It is as safe any other city in the world. Mumbai has an unwritten code of conduct which everyone observes.