Good day, my name is Pradeep Sharma, but you can call me Pradee. I will have the pleasure to be your guide to Mumbai. Bombay as it was once called changed its name to Mumbai in 1996. Though the name Bombay already went back to the times of the Portuguese ( Bom Bahia, meaning good bay) the latter change was a change back to the roots. As Mumbai derives from a word used by the ancient Koli fisherfolk for one of their godesses: Mumba = mother. So don‘t be confused and think that the famous city of Bombay in India did suddenly disappear.
Useful side info: Pradeep Sharma is an officer of the Mumbai police. He is India‘s and probably the world‘s wildest shooting policeman. He‘s now 13 years on duty and so far he has shot 87 suspects. This makes you now a very safe man. But try to stay behind him.
Ancient yet modern, faboulously rich yet achingly poor, Mumbai is India in a microcosm. But it is even more than that, there are things that you can only find here, not only in India but even worldwide. Mumbai is home of many different groups, it offers room for even the weirdest kind of traditions, languages, religions and people. I mean like really strange people, not like you and me: normal, you know.
Mumbai is a huge mosaic. Language: There are 200 different languages and dialects spoken in and around Mumbai. The most spoken language is Marathi, the official language of the district of Maharashtra. Surprisingly though being the second most spoken language on planet earth Hindi only ranks 4th. English is even more behind finishing on a disappointing 12th place. In spite of this English remains the language of the upper classes and the language of almost all influential newspapers.
Religion: The religious picture of Mumbai is as complex as languagewise. In comparison to other Indian cities the number of religious minorities is surprisingly high. The percentage of Hindi followers is about 70%. This might sound much, but 30% of Mumbai‘s population equals 3.6 million people. That‘s quite a few. The second most influential religion is Islam. The 15% that they make up creates a strong antidote to Hinduism. As they stand close together and focus on certain branches. Mumbai is very tolerant and offers space to even the strangest religions.
Side info: Mumbai is also the home of about 60000 Parsi. The Parsi religion has a more or less unconventional funeral tradition. Outside of Mumbai on Malabar Hill stand the towers of silence. The Parsi, instead of burying their dead, lay the bodies on these towers and wait for the vultures to do their job. But in Mumbai‘s challenged environment the number of vultures has drastically reduced. But Parsi religion shows us that tradition and innovation can get along very well. They do now use chemicals to speed up decompostation and, this will make environmentalists happy, solar powered heaters. Now imagine that in your city.
You see, lot of strange people around here. But how should this be any different, I mean we‘re a little crazy. Just look at our culture rich and mysterious. But the big thing today is something completely different: Bollywood. Like my mother living on the countryside, she lives in the middle of nowhere, they don‘t even have running water there, but guess what. They have a cinema. She knows all Sharukh Khan movies by heart and that‘s sure a lot.
Bollywood Mumbai is the home of Bollywood, the name derives from the old name of Mumbai, Bombay. Bollywood is the world‘s largest movie industry releasing over 900 movies every single year. If you somehow get the weird idea of watching all these movie in a row, it would take you 4 months. And this without going to the restrooms. Mumbai itself has over 600 cinemas, including huge, modern multiplexes. Every village in India, no matter how tiny it is, has a cinema. Though having a potential customership of hundreds of millions the industry is nowadays in slight decline. Reason for this are the growing success of TV, which in Mumbai is only available since ’72, movie piracy and mob-like structures within the business.
Side info: The popularity of Bollywood actors is so immense that some of them already became elected for parliament. The members of their party consist of former fan club members. So if you ever get the chance to join one of these clubs, do it. You might end up as minister of foreign affairs of India.
You see Mumbai is a place where anything can happen. So now we‘ll continue our tour… but… wait … what is this strange feeling. Oh just a second.
Ah, that‘s better! Get your ears cleaned regularly and you‘ll lead a happy life. Where was I? Oh yeah, anything can happen here. Like during the building boom: The Brits wanted to build a justice hall so they hired some Indian workers to build the statue of Lady Justice. One could now expect that typical for India it took a bit longer. But what a surprise was it when they finished their work just in time. The result was a surprise too: The statue turned out to be an one eyed monkey holding the scales of justice. That can only happen in Mumbai.
But don‘t let us be an one-eyed monkey. Let us take another look around. Let us take a walk through all parts of Mumbai
let‘s enter the streets of Mumbai, first of all…
As you can see, local traffic in Mumbai is a catastrophe. Streets and means of public transport are crowded, local trains which are designed to carry about 1000 passengers are filled with more than 6000 people for example. → THE important issue for most middle class people in Mumbai is getting from point A to B Long distance traffic however is developed much better
Due to various international influences, Mumbai’s culture and society differ from the rest of India: - International cuisine - cricket and soccer are popular sports - Christmas is celebrated - Cnb (adapted from lonely hearts ads): Caste is no barrier for relationships → many people from all over India come to Mumbai, hoping to escape poverty (approx. 40% of India’s GDP are earned in Mumbai) and strict social rules. Unfortunately, this is where many of them end up:
- ⅓ – ½ of the Mumbai population lives in slums - those residents have no access to infrastructure, there are constant threats to hunt them away - there is hardly any help from the authorities → they have to help themselves. This might look like this: → people will do all kinds of jobs – those who can afford services like cleaning your ears, cutting your hair or cleaning your shoes on the street will pay for them
You should not only expect to find the most poor living in Slums Imagine that: A University lecturer gets up in the morning, puts on his good dress, goes to work and greets his slum- neighbor who sells junk on the way. The lecturer’s neighbor is likely to earn up to three times as much money in his job. That’s Mumbai Still, education is of high value in Mumbai – over 1000 public and private schools and the famous University of Mumbai prove this.
Thank you for following me through Mumbai and letting me show you this truly unique, multicultural city. I hope you have enjoyed the tour and got an idea of the feeling of Mumbai.