[ Rameshwari Takle is an Indian native who came to the US to study architecture at IIT. She was kind enough to write this piece for us about Mumbai, Indian, where she previously lived – Aaron. ]
Photo Credit: Flickr/Dey
Mumbai is the largest city in India, a city full of dreamers and hard-laborers. A place where you will encounter stray dogs and exotic birds, artists and workers, the poor and millionaires living together in this maddening city. The city is the home of the most prolific of film industries (Bollywood), one of Asia’s biggest slums (Dharavi), and the largest tropical forest in an urban zone.
In many ways, I see a lot of similarity between New York and Mumbai, with their roles in the United States and India respectively. Mumbai is India’s financial capital, fashion powerhouse, and a center for many religious and political matters. It has some of the world’s most expensive real estate with property rates soaring sky high, some of them up to 100,000 INR/SF. A rapid growth and development has made the city a concoction of skyscrapers and malls in between the slums and shabby areas. It is also one of the most populous cities in the world with a population of 21,290,000 as of January 2012.
In the urban context, Mumbai has portrayed a very ironic image of itself. The most common image of the city and the one the world knows about is the slums. But, at the same time, the luxury developments and tall buildings due to rapid urbanization has given rise to a lot of speculation and debate about the urban sustainability and economic equality both in local and global discussions.
In terms of employment, 81% of the city’s population works in the services sector, including communications, social, and personal services. In Mexico City the service sector is around 43% and in Shanghai is around the 32%. Johannesburg, New York and Berlin see 37%, 46% and 40% employed in services, respectively. Most famous among the services produced in Mumbai is cinema. Bollywood churns out more than 900 films a year — more than any other film center (yes, Hollywood included), with many people directly and indirectly employed by this industry. Although every part of the country has its regional film industry, Bollywood continues to enthrall the nation with its winning escapist formula of complete entertainment with typical song and dance sequences (widely popular among foreign audience). Cinema in India is a phenomenon, the form of media that has the ability to create the greatest impact on the masses. Bollywood stars can attain near godlike status in India. Their faces appear in advertisements around the country. According to me there are only two things most popular in India, especially Mumbai — Bollywood and Cricket.
Mumbai is very well known for its fast paced lifestyle and the citizens of Mumbai are believed to be the most active in the entire country. Most of the cities in India are laidback in terms of the lifestyle and people, but Mumbai is completely opposite of that. People in this city are very hard working. They also have to travel long distances to reach their work. Almost 80% of the citizens rely on the Mumbai local train system, which is the lifeline of the city. Everything in Mumbai carries a high price tag, which may be why everyone works so hard. Residents often take up extra part time jobs to earn more money. People from other parts of India come here to earn their living and make money. This makes Mumbai a cosmopolitan center, with many ethnic groups among which Maharastrians form the majority.
Street food and vendors are a common sight in Mumbai especially in the working district of the city. Mumbai is well known for its local food joints and street food is very popular amongst the citizens. Other cultural staples include Indian festivals like the Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, and Holi are celebrated in Mumbai. These festivals are celebrated in grandeur and unite all the citizens of Mumbai irrespective of caste and creed.
The globally popular film Slumdog Millionaire showed the world the city’s slums. 60% of Mumbai’s population lives in its shantytowns and slums. Contrary to what is shown in the movie, life in the slums is pretty normal. The residents of the slums pay rent. The building materials for these houses might range from flimsy corrugated-iron shacks to permanent, multi-storey concrete structures. But most houses have kitchens and electricity. The children there go to schools – most of them to the municipal schools with affordable fees as compared to the private schools. Many families have been here for generations, and some of the younger Dharavi residents even work in white-collar jobs. Dharavi has Asia’s largest leather tanning industry. Based on my personal interaction with the slum dwellers during a school project, I realized that the residents of these slums often choose to stay in the neighborhood they grew up in. Whether it is because of the fear of discrimination or the fear to accept change, they are certainly more comfortable living where they are and the surroundings they are familiar with.
I believe one should take the time to get to know Mumbai and appreciate the city for what it has to offer. The luxury lifestyle of south Mumbai and the slums, the crazy traffic and the local trains, the street vendors and the high end restaurants, the humid climate and the cool breeze of the Marine Drive, the historic architecture and the market places, the movies and the cricket, the urban and local character. The city will suck you in if you let it.
Filed Under: Mumbai, Urban Culture
Mumbai is a metropolitan city located on the western coast of India. This spectacular city is blessed with innumerable tourist attractions. Read on to know more about places to visit in Mumbai.
Mumbai Tourist Attractions
Some of the well-known tourist attractions in India are found here in Mumbai. The 'Gateway of India' situated in Colaba is a renowned monument built in the Hindu-Muslim styles of architecture to honor King George V and Queen Mary. Take a peek into the world of Hindi cinema by visiting 'Film City', which is located in Goregaon. If you like water theme parks, then you must visit 'Essel World and Water Kingdom' for a day of complete adventure. Take part in the massive festivities of 'Ganesh Chathurthi,' at the 'Siddhivinayak Temple' and fulfill your dreams with the blessings of 'Lord Ganesh'. One of the finest museums in India, the 'Prince of Wales Museum' features rare artworks, sculptures, coins and lots more. Explore this extraordinary city and take home an unforgettable, typical 'Mumbai' experience. See it to believe it!
Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is one of India's most unique landmarks situated in the city of Mumbai. The colossal structure was constructed in 1924. Located at the tip of Apollo Bunder, the gateway overlooks the Mumbai harbor, bordered by the Arabian Sea in the Colaba district.
Flora Fountain, also known as 'Hutatma Chowk' since 1960, is declared as one of India's Heritage structures. Built in 1864, this tourist spot houses India's prestigious fountain, located in the city of Mumbai. The name 'Flora' is derived from the name of the Roman Goddess of Flowers.
Mahalakshmi Racecourse, owned by The Royal Western Turf Club-an elite sports club in Mumbai, is a renowned horse racing track in the country. It is considered to be one of the greatest circuits in Asia. The racecourse's Grandstand, is also included in the list of the 'heritage structures of India'. The Mahalakshmi Racecourse
Town Hall is one of the most majestic structures among the other heritage buildings in the city of Mumbai. One can say that this building represents one of the last architectural remnants of the Victorian Bombay (Mumbai). The Town hall was colloquially called as 'Tondal' during the 19th century.
Mumbai Film city is an integrated film studio located near Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the vicinity of Aarey Colony in Goregaon, Mumbai. Home to real-like gardens, mountains, lakes, homes, cities and villages, it is the favourite venue for Bollywood film shootings. The Film City was constructed by the Maharashtra
Churchgate, now known as Veer Nariman Street, is a prominent location in the South Mumbai. The Place imbibed its name from the Churchgate railway station and St. Thomas Church. Churchgate houses some of Mumbai's prestigious buildings and organizations. Being a home to banking and business organizations
A sacred water tank, Banganga or Banganga Tank is one of the prominent tourist attractions in Mumbai. This ancient tank, whose origin dates back to 12th century, forms a part of Walkeshwar temple complex in Malabar Hill. Constructed in 1127 A. D under the initiative of a minister of Silhara dynasty that ruled Mumbai from 9th to 13th century
A hillock in Southern Mumbai, Malabar Hill is one of the prominent residential areas in the city. Known for housing Walkeshwar temple and Banganga tank, this hillock is situated at a height of 50 meters, highest point in Southern Mumbai. One of the most expensive residential areas in the world, Malabar Hills is home to mansions
Nariman Point is the fourth most expensive office location in the world. It is home to some of the biggest financial and business establishments such as Air India, Central Bank of India, Indian Express, State Bank of India, The Oberoi Hotel and so on. Situated on the extreme southern gradient of Marine Drive, It is one of the posh locations
To know about the theatre life, personalities and artists in Mumbai, a visit to the Prithvi Theatre is a must. Being one of the most famous and best theaters in Mumbai and also all over India, Prithvi Theatre offers an insight to the creativity that is being brewed here.
Rajabai Tower is a famous clock tower located in South Mumbai. It stands in Mumbai University Fort Campus located next to the High Court. The tower is, undoubtedly, an example of exquisite beauty. It has become one of the major tourist destinations in Mumbai. The tower was built by Sir Gilbert Scott, who modeled it on the Big Ben