Recently visited Mumbai in India after a few years. Every visit to India is quite an experience and this time was no different. After living in a small town in the US for many years I myself now have to follow the advice I give to folks from here who are traveling to India for the first time: Be prepared for the sight and sounds and go with an open mind just to soak in the atmosphere. The sight of so many people and the sound of traffic can be intimidating for the first time visitor as it is even for someone like me born and raised there. Like other great, major cities of the world Mumbai is always buzzing with activity and change is the only constant. Where once a 10-storey building might have towered like a giant a decade ago the same building might look like a runt of the litter now. And I am talking about distant suburbs on the outskirts of the city and towns outside the city limits! The pace of change is so rapid I could hardly recognize surroundings that I was once familiar with. In a land once known for mystics and spiritualism today capitalism is well and truly alive and kicking 🙂
It was good to catch up with folks old and new. Folks from earlier generation appeared to have grown much older (I am sure they felt the same about me 😀 ). Met batchmates from school and college and it was good to see everyone doing well in their professions. Visited my alma mater and even there old is making way for new as school is being redeveloped for a newer and bigger version to meet the need of changing times. It was good to see neighbors drop by and offer help to parents, respect for elders is very much present. Some even insisted on being given opportunity to help. One main difference between West and East is the individualized culture of the West compared to the community culture of the East. Not to say one is better than the other but it is just a different way of living. Vertical expansion has led to many high rise buildings all over the city and beyond. Which brings its own good and bad. Taller structures have led to green spaces within the community. To cater to the high end buyers businesses have also set shop nearby which obviates the need to go downtown or midtown for shopping or entertainment. Flip side is additional demand on resources which the existing infrastructure is not geared to handle and lot of traffic increasing local travel time. Multiple road projects going on simultaneously also adding to commuter woes. Real estate prices have gone through the roof too. Always amazed and thankful for the time friends make to meet for anyone visiting from outside though. The spirit of the city lives on though in citizens who put up with a lot and still find it in them to care and share.
Yours truly likes to go for walks occasionally. The experience of walking, be it in a wooded area or in anonymity in a crowded street, is spiritual. One either takes in the beauty of surroundings or just learns to stay unaffected by the crowd or noise and be a dispassionate observer. Which helps in developing into a non-judgmental observer and taking everything in one’s stride. In one such walk I got lost. 😀 For the ride back home I hired an auto rickshaw. The driver was from different part of town, not familiar with the area I was in. He asked me to show the direction and I ended up seeing half the town as we tried to make it to my place asking folks along the way for directions couple of times 😀 Did not have time to try more such adventures. All in all the whole visit was quite a ride with some new connections made, some old connections severed and a few connections revived. Which is what life is about: making new memories, erasing some and remembering some old memorable memories. On my return it was great to see my wife receive me at the airport and be back in surroundings that are more familiar now. It was good to be there and it’s good be back. Life is a journey generating a ton of memories along the way to last a lifetime!