Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A changed perspective on Bombay/Mumbai

I first visited Bombay (before the name changed) 12 or so years ago during a visit to India. It overwhelmed me, and led me to avoid it at all costs thereafter. Crossing the street terrified me, the multi-level slums horrified me, and the sheer density of the place stunned me. The airport was horrible with no place to eat, or sit, and no provision for checking in in the middle of night as necessary for many international flights.  So I hadn't been back until this weekend.

What a difference living in Bangalore makes!

Now, Bombay seems like an organized, modern city, still with tremendous poverty, but far less terrifying. There are stop lights that people stop for, there are even walk signals that seem to work, there are taxis around to get, there are lane lines on the highways (and people heeding them), and there were fewer folks begging me for money that I would encounter on a downtown shopping area in Bangalore.  I didn't dare venture into the train station, where the density would still frighten me, and the slums still sicken me, but overall I found the place to be much more tolerable, and far more forward looking than Bangalore.

Here are some pix. I'll post more commentary later.

Yes, there are lots of slums, here are some:
Some beautiful, if decrepit, old buildings:
Very dense housing.
The cabs in the city are everywhere. Little autorickshaws aren't allowed in the central part of town.
Another old building.
Skyscrapers in the background.
The Jewish synagogue.
Organizing the lunches for delivery.

"Flying over" more slums
A shaded bus stop, with a bench.
McDonald's delivery!
Cricket on the lawn.
More buildings going up.
Older housing stock.
The door of the synagogue. Sorry, I'm not able to cut and paste it to go along with the other picture of the rest of the building.
Practical shared transportation. 
In short, an enjoyable quick trip to Bombay, except for my time at the Brazilian consulate general, the reason for going. No visa granted. Oh well. But that is a much longer story, and it will have to wait for another day.

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