The movie Inception was a big hit in Mumbai. Not sure how well it did in the U.S., but Indian audiences lapped it up. Four layers of dreams, and never sure at which level of non reality you find yourself? Right up the alley of cosmically inclined Indians. The story of what it’s like to watch a movie in modern India, with hot snacks delivered to your seats, will have to wait.
Life in any city can be dream like, with the final outcome of the dream, good or bad, several years away. You can be surrounded by physical perfection (functioning traffic lights, neat pavements, public transportation) and yet the city can be in a very slow decline, dying bit by bit. I remember being in Tokyo on a trip seven - eight years ago and feeling almost instantly that this was a city in decline, with an almost suffocating sense of immobility, an unwillingness to change.
Or, you can be living in Mumbai, with little or no civic sense, with thousands of people encroaching on the pavements, and yet have the feeling that this is a city that is going places. Mumbai wasn’t always like this. For the past 10 - 20 years the mismanagement combined with a freeze on new construction, the sense of stagnation was palpable.
But now there are close to 2700 new construction projects going on simultaneously. There are cranes everywhere you look, especially from Tardeo and Lower Parel onwards to the North, East and West of the city. The more historic South Mumbai, with buildings put up by British administrators and Parsee and Jewish benefactors, seems isolated from the building boom.
It’s taking us time to get used to seeing people living on the street. While Mumbai’s billionaires put up some amazing housing for themselves, entire families continue to live on the streets. It’s much more a fact of life than it is in other Indian cities, with Mumbai exerting a tremendous pull on the poor.
On a daily level, with monsoon deluges coming down and taxis horning to the left and right of you, life is less dream and more reality.
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.