Saying Farewell to India.
05.12.2010 - 07.12.2010
Mumbai & Goa. Goa & Mumbai. Last stops on my India trip. Closure to Asian backpacking. Gateway to australia, Christmas, Texas, and family. I'm not someone particularly good at endings. In fact I'm terrible at them. I choose to look ahead and ignore the possibility that good things may change.
In Goa, my brother and his fiance joined us. In Mumbai, we left Amy for Australia. Thats the big short of my endings.
Mumbai proved a brilliant closing scene for the India adventure. Stage left: a dizzying cosmopolitan place: Bollywood, industrialists, poor, and rich. Mumbai - formerly Bombay- jealously projecting its (well warranted) economic liberalism and global city perspective yet, almost contradictorily attacks its old British-Portuguese colonial legacy that created the city in the first place. Like all wonderful and interesting places, Mumbai-Bombay proved counter intuitive, elusive, and deliciously multidimensional.
I stayed in the fairly posh neighborhood of Colaba 0 known for its Bollywood antics, luxury stores, backpackers, and British edifices. Its only one very unique corner of Mumbai. It is no slim dog back alley so I did not in any way get a holistic view of the place. Yet Mumbai - specifically Colaba - was a mirror of what I imagine India wanting to develop into. It wants to be posh casual luxury and respect. It yearns for the UN security council post and world class status as well as a nationalist pride in its textiles, film, media, and Indian heritage (its Mumbai not Bombay remember!). It wants American media and multiculturalism. European standards for art and national pride, and Japans quality and market efficiency. It wants to do all this and re visualize it and remake it as Indian.
India is globalization at its best (and worst). Its easy to spot the inequalities across geography, race, and industry. And it equally simple to hone in on the disintegrating cultural traditions and historic mindsets. Yet, its also clear that India simply isn't becoming "like everywhere else".
Its taking Hollywood and turning and to Bollywood. And doing it well. Bomby to Mumbai. Hot dogs to delicious veggie cutlets. A western-capitalist vision of tolerance and commerce blended with a decidedly Vedic mindset.
So with bittersweetness, I left India at its most excited state. The flurry of change and excitement of Mumbai - palpable - even sticks to me now on the sterility of my outbound flight. And this isn't just about Mumbai - its India's own mood of reform and change. True the struggles the place faces stick to me. THe poverty of Rajasthan... the simple despair uttered by a tour guide in Himachal Pradesh "nothing changes, the poor are poor and the rich rich here. There is no opportunity for me". I'm leaving on a high note entirely thankful and overjoyed by what India had to offer.