Friday, September 21, 2012

Maximum City

Mumbai is fascinating. It's a city of extreme opposites, it's the antithesis of itself. Rich and poor, new and old, state-of-the-art and antiquated, clean and dirty, calm and chaotic -- for most in Mumbai, life seems to exist mainly at the poles.

It is at once enchanting, spellbinding, majestic, appalling, frustrating, and heartbreaking.

Demographically, India is a very young country, and the youth possess a particular energy and vitality. In my four days in Mumbai I met Bollywood actors and actresses, software engineers, doctors, real estate developers, musicians, bankers -- they all shared a remarkable faith in one's self, in the future, and in India.

On the downside, there's the poverty. There have been improvements in access to education and a decline in the poverty rate, but urban blight is quickly apparent and severe.

Also, the infrastucture lags badly behind the rate of economic growth. Public transport, though universal, far-reaching and efficient, is old and decrepit. Construction timelines are painfully long and further complicated by corrupt politicians and a powerful mafia.

Mobile voice and data rates are incredibly cheap. I paid less than $5 for 100 minutes of talk time and 2GB of data -- incoming calls are free, so jump on Skype and give me a call at +91 98-19-798025.

Sorry for the stream-of-conciousness. The trip is off to a solid start -- heading north on the train, more to come!

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