Mumbai City

Here’s a statement you won’t hear me say often…I prefer living in our “quiet” Mumbai suburb of Nahar Amrit Shakti, than Mumbai City. Downtown Mumbai, a city of 20 million, is not for the faint of heart: unpleasant orders at every turn – sewer, body, exhaust…. a noise level that doesn’t let up (I tried posting a video but can’t get it to work, sorry)… thick, moist air that surrounds and adds an extra layer onto your already hot, sticky body… masses of people trying to move about, all with a strong determination, destination and purpose.

With that said, I had a truly incredible day of seeing the city highlights, driving through the all encompassing neighborhoods and shopping at a couple of stores which specialize in high-quality, Indian-made goods. Suresh was my guide/driver for the afternoon – he was the most gracious host.

We started with a mini shopping excursion.  I was in ahh of the intricately designed rugs, bed coverings, hand-carved wooden boxes, scarfs, saris (I even tried one on!), jewelry plus an assortment of brass & silver accouterments.

We then took off for the Victoria Train station, driving through the massive street markets, vast slums and passed by some of the most modern high-rise complexes.  The drive seemed a much longer distance than we actually traveled — Suresh was a genius maneuvering through the high-volume traffic with no-rules driving.

Riding Sidesaddle

Goods Carrier trucks – they’re all over the city and so colorfully painted.

Common Street Scene

Municipal building across from Victoria Train Station

Victoria Train Station

I’m finding if difficult to accurately describe my experiences but Mumbai is more than a city — all your sense are heightened, emotions run high.  All I know is whatever image you may have, multiple it by 20 million.

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Cultural Exchange

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the young ladies that works for Dan yesterday – Ruchi assisted with my check-in at the police station.  It was amusing, when I got into the car she introduced me to the driver as the American Big Boss’s Wife.  I don’t think I’ll ever get use to this “status” we’ve been classified.

We had some down time to talk, and it was fascinating – she is as interested in learning about the American way of life, as I’m intrigued about Indian culture.  She asked if it was true that Americans move out of their parent’s house when they turn 15.  I would guess Ruchi to be in her mid-20’s, she lives with her parents and will stay with them until she marries.  It’s still accepted & expected that parents will help/assist (but wasn’t called arranged) in finding a spouse.  I asked if she was OK with this, and without hesitation, she has no issue or concern.  She finds it comforting to know they will help find a suitable partner.

It’s amazing to see what we consider old & dated traditions still actively in play.  Yet, at the same time you can clearly see a shift in the landscape by a rapidly growing middle-class, consumerism lifestyle.

I hope to spend more time with Ruchi and meet more locals, there’s so much to learn & share about our cultures.

Here are a few pictures of the local women…

 

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Police Action

Ok, not really action but I was summoned to my local police station today to register as Dan’s housewife (insert smartass comment here).  As a working foreigner, we’re required to submit paperwork so that if something happens to one of us, they know who to contact.  Or at least that was what I was told.  This paperwork required details & signatures of multiple people from his company and a letter of some sort from our apartment complex.  It ended up taking over 3 hours — just to hand over the papers, check my passport and confirm I match the picture. Definitely not messing with the law here.  Check out our waiting room…

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A Brief History of Why We’re in India

I guess a brief background should be added…Dan started a new job in May and is working at the Mumbai airport for 18 months (hopefully that’s all).  He left Turner Construction and is now working for Pteris Global, they’re based out of Singapore and have a strong worldwide presence.  Dan’s had a working relationship with Petris for 3 to 4 years now, and have been in continual discussions about him working for them. Pteris was interested in having Dan come aboard to help grow the US market, and Dan was always interested in working for them as long as we had an international opportunity.  In February we got the call that fit both parties desires…they had an international project that Dan was the perfect candid and would get his working international “bug” out of his system (as he was told).  Then once the project is complete, he would go home and further develop the US market.  Discussion started in February but it wasn’t until April that details were confirmed and then rather quickly he was off to Singapore for a couple of weeks and then landed in Mumbai mid-May.  

Our plan for this new adventure, I’ll stay home with our sweet boy, Sangio (he just turned 13 in May!) and Dan will be in Mumbai.  I plan on spending 3 to 4 week increments with Dan, my next trip will be around October.  And then he’ll come home for 2 weeks every 3 to 4 months.  We do have to work through little inconveniences that provide great benefits…Dan can only be on US soil 35 days within a 365 day period to qualify for any tax relief of working overseas.  So with that in mind, I’ll be moving back to Seattle and then we can meet in Vancouver.  This way Dan can still see Sangio, and come across the border only as needed. 

From early on, Dan and I both said we’ve always wanted an opportunity to live and work internationally.  I’m so proud of him and that he’s made our dream a reality.  

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Welcome to Mumbai

As a beginning blogger, please bear with me as I adjust to writing and organizing my thoughts in this format.  Here goes my first blog…

I made it to Mumbai on Saturday at midnight with much anticipation.  This flight was unlike any other flight I’ve made. Not only the excitement to see Dan, the opportunity to experience a new world & culture has been top of mind and I was fortunate to fly first-class on Cathay Pacific (thank you airline miles!).  As I was telling Dan, this flight reminded me of what I felt like when I was 7 years old and flying to see my Grandma & Grandpa for the first time.

Here’s where my mind starts to wander – how do I clearly communicate all the observations, visions, thoughts from a land that is unlike anywhere in the US.  Dan’s apartment is located in a suburb of Mumbai, the area is called Nahar Amrit Shakti.  On Sunday morning, we walked to the local center that has a few store fronts, grocery store and street market.  What stands out in my mind from that first walk – it’s not as magnified as I expected.  There are many people but not so crowded that personal space is an issue, horns are continually honked but they have a slightly softer sound then the car horns in the US, people went about their business, stared at us but left us alone for the most part. Yes, we’re in the suburbs so I’m sure this will all change once we hit the streets of downtown Mumbai!

Later that afternoon we took an auto rickshaw to Powai.  This is an up-scale neighborhood not far from Dan’s apartment.  What I find frustrating is that it’s necessary to take the rickshaw – Powai is about 2 miles away and we’ve been advised we shouldn’t walk there.  I understand during the heat of the day, it’s just too hot & humid but I don’t think that’s their reasoning.  From my outings so far, I don’t feel threatened or in harms way so we’ll see — I’m sure we’ll be walking there before this trip is over.

The roads ….  no rules, I truly don’t understand how there aren’t more accidents between people darting across the streets, cars making up there own lanes & filling the gap, a family of 5 on a motorcycle, bicycles with 1, 2, even 3 people and no traffic lights to keep any order.  It’s all for one and one for all.  However, when people drive, they drive and are alert to all that is going on around them — no distractions.  Hmm, something to be learned.

Dogs are an interesting part of the street scene.  It’s rare to see a dog as a pet, Dan has mentioned seeing just a few people walking their dogs on a leash.  The majority of street dogs are “wild” and left to their own devises.  These dogs are the complete opposite of the “wild” dogs we’ve seen in Mexico.  They are mild-mannered, non-aggressive and walk about the streets just like one of us. They’re don’t look mangy, are not skittish and will lay along the sidewalks to nap in the afternoon sun.  I’m not sure how I feel about this, but it’s reassuring to see they aren’t harmed by anyone, look relatively happy & healthy and don’t appear to have problems finding food/water.

Looking forward to further explorations and sharing along the way.  Cheers!

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View from apartment balcony

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Rickshaw — aka covered moped that seats 3

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Napping street dog, I named her (maybe him?) Shanti.

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