"Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal and not in reaching it. " ~ Mahatma Gandhi


Life in Mumbai City

Rinki Varindani studies in Class 10 at the A.F.Petit Girls' High school at Pali Hill. Extremely interested in reading and especially writing, she sent India Travelogue her travel essay on Mumbai, for which she received the first prize in a State school competition. On learning that we are publishing it here, she wrote: "I am sure you will completely understand what state I am in :)- 'extremely happy' is an understatement.

'What is this life if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?'

'William Henry Davies' words seem apposite for life in Mumbai city. A city which is not bound by time; a city wherein human activities continue relentlessly through 24 hours; indeed, the city never sleeps. Life in Mumbai inevitably poses the question 'Are cities really engines of progress, or are they breeding grounds for poverty, violence and crime?'.

And yet, this city is home to 100 million people who inhabit this longish rectangle called Mumbai which buzzes with fast moving local trains, kids with dreams of becoming movie stars, beggars with manipulative strategies and every kind of human being one can conceive of. Here, the law of the jungle prevails: 'survival of the fittest'.

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Little Boxes

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Whether one is being swept along wide avenues by endless streams of commuters, or shoved by beggars and hawkers in the teeming bazaars, Amchi Mumbai is always oozing with a 'bindaas' attitude. This city of contrasts has the poverty and squalor symptomatic of any Third World nation, but also the world's most creative film industry and is the country's financial and entertainment hub.


For comic relief, all you have to do is watch the BEST buses roving the city. Some passengers sit snoozing, dead to the world - while those who could not get seats stand irritably glancing at their watches from time to time. These buses don't have any doors, so during rush hour, passengers are spilling out of it, practicing their 'flying skills' clinging to whatever stranglehold they can get. And then, there are the streets of Mumbai with their garbage, the teeming humanity and the barking dogs. Whoever needs a gym to lose weight here?

Mumbai is known for it's congested railway stations, which are seemingly microcosms of the city at large. As the train pulls into the platform you cannot help noticing the many levels of society: the working class person, the professional, the smarty-pant with no ticket, the ubiquitous vendor who tries to make a life selling anything, anywhere to anyone.


If you are not one of the faint hearted and are determined to survive in Mumbai, you have to learn your way around. When you telephone a Mumbaikar and he says "I'll call you right back", he is actually saying "I don't want to talk to you so I need to get rid of you somehow". The process of job hunting can be depressing and ego-damaging. Just imagine all the poor sods who spend weeks staring at their telephone for the call from their never-to-be-boss who said he would call back. Know the lingo and you'll fit right in. Yet, there are many silver linings to the cloud, if you have the guts and the gall to live in Mumbai and survive.

A city of hope- a city of dreams,
Mumbai always feels like it is about to burst at the seams-
From the coolies to the seths, from the slums to the buildings rising high-
This city has given me the attitude of 'never say die'

HaVe A GrEaT dAy...

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.