Or “there and back again”
We arrived back in the UK on Friday morning after deciding to come home two days early. Mumbai is an amazing city with immense amounts of history and culture; however what it does lack is things to do that are not business related.
My time in Mumbai is a confusing one, in many ways it exceeded my expectations but again in others it fell below par and changed the way I see things. In one way I would say do not visit Mumbai for a holiday; it is not a tourist destination but rather a city that gives no quarter for the casual visitor. It exists to do business and business alone; any tourist attractions are there by chance and purely incidental to how Mumbai has grown up around them. The only exception to this for me would be Chowpatty beach. And again that is more functional as a huge area for street food for the locals but is definitely a place to see if you are ever there.
As we were there for Business however this was not a problem; and the huge range and qualities of the fabrics far exceeded any preconceptions I ever had as to what I could expect. If you want to see fabrics in all their splendour then it is a place to go (or alternatively come see us here for a small snippet). The Traffic is like nothing you could ever imagine and is almost enough reason to go there in its own. India is perhaps the only country in the world that drives on the left, and the right, and the centre of the road all the time avoiding collapsed cows and dogs that just can’t be bothered to dodge any more.
The noise is incredible, as I said in an earlier blog, every sense is assaulted and over whelmed in Mumbai and there is no way you can prepare yourself for it. Twenty four million people and seemingly every single one is driving a scooter, or car or tuk tuk or is selling something whilst dodging the afore mentioned modes of transport.
In short Mumbai is uncompromising in its approach to how it lives and works, a city that truly never sleeps and everything is completely interconnected. You have to both like and dislike how it works; the people are amazing and incredible showing great fortitude in the face of real and true poverty but without complaint. It is this same poverty and dirtiness that will make you dislike it though.
Goa is a lot like Mumbai but smaller and at the same time also very different, the craziness and manic roads and streets are still there. The people are still living and working in the same way. Different Fabrics to marvel at different foods to smell and taste ; the horns are still an ever pervasive noise, constantly blaring for dominance as they try to decide which part of the road the vehicle needs to occupy at any given time. However, there, the tourist side of the country really does do its bit to attract you. It is much more sedate than Mumbai and gives concession to people there to see the sights (crossing the road is not nearly as daunting an experience). Again the People are amazing and interesting and interested, showing real interest in you and what you bring with you, able to hold in depth conversations in English with you about all manner of English topics that they brought up.
The Market in Margao is much gentler than its counterparts in Mumbai and offers a huge range of Spices, fabrics and all sorts of other things and is well worth a look; and with regular shops all around it you have plenty of chance to pick up deals everywhere (I had a dinner jacket tailor made for me in two days extremely cheaply, and the quality is astounding).
Then you see the beaches and “wow”. The most idyllic setting you have ever seen stretches away to either side of you for mile upon mile of golden sand and breaking waves, with food and drink shacks sporadically dotted along the coast (although they were mostly closed due to monsoon this time of year).
Unfortunately the ever present refuse and homelessness is also a big issue here as well but if you can accept this, and not to forget Westerners being there is helping the situation, then this is a great place to visit.
All in all my trip to India is both profound and incredible, on a personal level I have learned a lot about myself and also about the wider world that I had never had the opportunity and pleasure to find out about; and on a professional level it has been an unqualified success. Learning about the fabric and the people, developing business contacts and bringing that experience back with me to help in the shop.
I would like to thank every one that has taken the time to read my Blog this past couple of weeks, I’m glad I got to share my experience with you and I hope I didn’t bore you too much.
Please pop along to the shop to see all the new bits we have brought back so far, with lots more to follow shortly. Please also keep an eye out for my next blog trying to raise a bit more awareness for the Stepping Stones charity in Margao, something that is very important and needs as much help as we can manage.