Mumbai (/mʊmˈbaɪ/; also known as Bombay) is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, most populous metropolitan area in India, and the eighth most populous city in the world, with an estimated city population of 18.4 million and metropolitan area population of 20.7 million as of 2011. Along with the urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai, Thane, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbor. In 2009, Mumbai was named an alpha world city. It is also the wealthiest city in India and has the highest GDP of any city in South, West or Central Asia.
Phewww! What a boring introduction by Wikipedia of such a colorful city that’s a complete paradox in itself. Not blaming any website because they cannot feel what this city gives you while it pulls its strings and make you dance to its tune. But before we can understand why a city like Mumbai is so diverse, let’s understand the history and geography behind it.
Mumbai is a city of seven islands namely Bombay Island, Parel, Mazagaon, Mahim, Colaba, Worli and Old Woman’s Island (also known as Little Colaba). To understand the diversity of any city it’s important that we look into it’s geographical aspects.
Now the tale goes to the era when airplane wasn’t invented. So the only mode of transport from one country to another distant country was a ship or steamer. The city of Mumbai lies in the western coast of India which effortlessly became a choice amongst western folks waiting to establish their business in the Indian subcontinent. So, this city was prone to many invasions in the past, piercing the land through the Arabian Sea.
Even today Mumbai is known to have India’s busiest port.
The histrionic history:
Many fights were fought, many thieves were caught, many lives got lost and many lessons were taught. So in short this is the history of Mumbai, where you would find history repeating itself almost every day. Yes, people fighting for a seat in the local train, white collared thieves who’ll sophisticatedly rob you in the name of investment, many poor slum dwellers who lose their lives every time there’s a riot and this is how lessons of life and wisdom is being taught by this city.
The principle religion of this region remained Hinduism(!) during CE (Common Era), then came Buddhism during the Mauryan Empire under the ruler Ashoka and he established the Buddhist learning and meditation center here (presently) at Kanheri caves in Borivali. The later invasions from the Muslim Sultanates from the west and central Indian provinces brought the Dawoodi Bohras, Ismaili Khojas, Kokani Muslims into the city, along with Shia and Sunni sects of Muslims. Mumbai was the only city in the country to shelter a good number of Israeli Jews and not to forget the Parsis from Persia. Its said that this is the only city in world to house largest Parsi population (Kindly verify in Google!). Along with that British, Dutch and Portuguese colonies gifted this city with Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians.
The Aamchi Mumbai:
Coming back to present Mumbai, it is nothing but the Sapano ka Shehar (city of dreams). Since, Mumbai is the commercial capital of the country, people from all parts and corner of the country come to this city to earn their livelihood and ultimately get settled here. The local train becomes their second home!
The city’s public transport facility is said to be the best in India. People from all social and economic background use it daily for their commute. Well! The precision in time of the local trains is now becoming debatable. Thanks to technology. Relying on its functioning, effectiveness went for a toss in people’s functioning. Atleast, I think so.
No matter how crowded the local train, bus or traffic is, people still have a basic common sense and most of them do follow rules (Most not all!). You can easily find people who are poor, lower middle class, middle class, rich and filthy rich here. Whatever language you speak or whichever cuisine you relish, you’ll always find someone and something to your taste within this city.
Vada Pav, being the all-time favorite snack of Mumbaikars (that’s what people of Mumbai call themselves), there are plenty of lip smacking street foods available to tickle you taste buds. Bollywood has become one of the reasons for people to find this city fascinating. Many come here to try their luck in this industry, some rule and most perish. Irony plays here with the highest note!
The city, being situated in the coastal region, houses many beaches, thrown open for people with carpets of sands and splashed with tonnes of litter! Girgaum and Juhu chowpaty are two of the famous beaches. Marine drive towards the south of Mumbai and Bandstand at Bandra, provide a breathtaking view of sea at one side, modern architectural marvels like high rises and Bandra-Worli sea link on the other side (Plus, mass kissing of the couples on the third side or corner!). There many amusement parks and garden for relaxing your heels during weekends or holidays.
Celebration of any festival is a treat to watch here. Almost every festival, no matter how official or unofficial it is, Mumbai celebrates it with great zest. Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10 day long festival which forms the main attraction of this city. And the best part is though it’s a Hindu festival but you can find people from all social backgrounds like Muslims, Christians or Parsis celebrating it. Same goes with other festivals of other communities. This makes this city truly a diversified yet united.
This city is always at its philosophical best. Once a man was asked,“Kya kaam karte ho bhai sahib?”(what do you do for living, brother?). The man smilingly replied, “yahan kaam kaun karta hai sahab, sabhi sirf struggle karte hain!” (Who works here? Everyone is merely struggling!). Yes, that is what true Mumbai is like, you come, you do but the city conquers. Rags to riches stories can be found almost everywhere and in every field in this city. Mumbai is an enchantress. You love it or you hate it but, you cannot leave it.
Article Contributed By Nitesh Mishra. He is currently the student of Lokmanya Tilak College Of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering). He loves reading, researching, hot headed arguments and always in a search of something creatively new. Hates prejudicing and order. Loves to read between the lines and see the other side of the coin. Also a cold hearted procrastinator who works only under pressure or too open environment!
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