Mumbai, or “Bombay” as its older residents still call it, has long been India’s “city of dreams.” Mumbai is not only India’s biggest city—it is a promise of a better life for millions seeking fame and fortune. It is India’s financial nerve center and the heart of Indian business. However, Mumbai is also home to Dharavi, a mega slum with its own billion-dollar economy. It is a city of sharp contrasts, where the destitute and homeless sleep in parking lots filled with BMWs, Audis, and Porsches, owned by the Bollywood glitterati. Mumbai is a city in constant flux where and future of India collide.
Millions of office-goers jumping on and off local trains, college students hanging on to the side of a bus, homeless people hurriedly rushing from car to car seeking alms at traffic lights—that is Mumbai. Everything moves in fast-forward: from roadside food-vendors deftly exchanging samosas for small change to the world famous dabbawallas darting through the streets delivering home-cooked food to office workers.
Alongside its brutally competitive ethos, Mumbai is also emblematic of cooperative living, which explains how this chaotic megalopolis continues to function efficiently and thrive. Mumbaikars, the people of Mumbai, go out of their way to help a stranger, whether that means push starting someone’s car or rescuing neighbors from monsoon floods. Mumbai has never been a stranger to disaster and dysfunction and yet, each time, life in Mumbai quickly resumes as normal—a phenomenon attributed to the resilient “spirit of Mumbai.” No matter what you come seeking or what the city throws back, Mumbai is an experience that must be lived.