Monday, February 19, 2007

City of Duality

Mumbai is a crazy city to say the least! Every where you look there is contradictions. Skyscrapers next to slums, 30 year old shacks next to trendy western style shops. Movies have descriptions on the back of their boxes written in English yet the movie is in Hindi. Classes in school are taught in English, yet many still only know Hindi. Many stores and restaurants have English names. There are people wearing clothing just like they would in the US, then there are others wearing colorful traditional wear, and still others wearing clothing that is no more than a cloth.

We went to the mall and I bought some Tradition shirts called "kurtas". They are very comfortable and light. We were sort of getting our fill of Indian spice for the moment so we Prashant and Vani, the two managers of R&H India, took Wilmer and I to Pizza Hut :) It was similar to American only everything tasted a bit different. We got some Indian style pizzas, like chicken tikka pizza. There is no pepperoni or sausage or anything because almost all restaurants do not server beef or pork due to religious beliefs. No beef for Hindus and no pork for Muslims.

In this mall there you could get practically anything you could in the states. There was a bookstore that sold all the same best-sellers the states had and all the same movies. In addition though they had lots of great stuff written by Indians and of course a huge selection of Bollywood films. If you didn't know, Bollywood (Bombay Hollywood) produces more movies than Hollywood does every year. Indians love movies!

People in the mall walk just like they drive. No messing around, no waiting for you to go first, no hesitation. If you try to be polite and let others go first, you won't get anywhere! That is NOT to say they are rude about it, as I never encountered anyone at the mall that was rude, only that is just the way life flows here.

One other thing to mention. In India there are people working everywhere. With so many people and the ability for people to get by on so little of wages, there is person assigned to everything. For example in the mall there is an automated pre-paid phone booth. Yet someone there stands there and presses the buttons or whatever for you. Similarly there is a guy at the apartment that just stands at the bottom of the elevator and if he sees you coming he will walk over and press the button for you.... and keep pressing it until the elevator comes down... that is his job. I wanted to say seriously dude, I can press the button, but if that's what feeds him, so be it.

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