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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

London and Mumbai: overrated, overpriced and dirty...

Everyone at the coach stop was a senior citizen, except me. Most were dressed like hicks. We were all embarking on a massive trip to London. For me it was my first trip to the big smoke, since returning from India. The queue of Somerset locals reminded me of the scene of strugglers queuing up to travel to Mumbai from places like Bihar.
Of course, "I" knew what London was "like", so had spent an entire day emptying my wardrobe looking for smart clothes, in an attempt not to look like a local yokel in the glitzy capital. I had several parties and dinner parties lined up and wanted to look 'the part.' After all, if there was one thing Mumbai had taught me, it was the importance of dressing smartly, dressing to the occasion, and well, in short, looking rich and glamorous. Those are the rules by which the Mumbai social set lives. Disobey them at your peril and expect to  lose your confidence and feel like a wallflower at any social gathering. (I  learnt this the hard way. It took me 2 years to learn that ripped jeans and T shirts do not go down well at page 3 parties in the city that never sleeps, but sequined black dresses and heels do. This is why the latter was my attire at my grand Mumbai leaving party:) I learnt the hard way that it was better not to show up at parties in Mumbai, than dress inappropriately. Of course, I also learnt that some of the most well-dressed people at these affairs, were financially bankrupt, immoral, having illicit affairs, unemployed, boring, rude you name it - but well-dressed they were.)


So, the coach left  and we glided through the rolling hills of Somerset, with fields of sheep on either side.


 I was still in my ''I love England mindset'' and so stared at the scenery and mulled on how happy I was to be in Somerset and how I wasn't missing the noisy honking chaos of Mumbai. The passenger in the seat next to me was rather fat squashing me somewhat. I also began to feel travel sick. Without wishing to offend her, I explained I may move seats as I felt ill, as we seemed to be sat above the wheel. A few minutes later, quite randomly, she asked: "Are you pregnant?" This was a case of the pot calling the kettle black, if ever there was one. "No!"I said. "Oh, I just thought you might be, given you said you felt sick," she said.


I soon moved (or should I say shifted?) to another seat. My sickness wore off and I spent the journey texting those friends, who I would be meeting, after spending such a long time in India.






After some time, the lush green trees suddenly looked dead, the houses were no longer picture postcard aesthetically-pleasing dreamlike cottages, with thatched roofs and fields for gardens, but rather ugly detached "London suburb" homes, with tiny gardens..and ugly cars .Some had no curtains; some had dark drapes across the windows as though disguising drug-growing dens inside; yobs suddenly appeared on the pavements (men with woollen hats stretching down over their foreheads, and in tracksuits, loitering on bikes - a species not found in Somerset); there was litter scattered across the pavement; bins were overflowing; the scene was no grey, rather than green; graffiti scarred the buildings; there was a sense of poverty. It was ugly. The accommodation looked substandard. Council flats appeared. People suddenly looked badly dressed. I looked in horror out of the coach window. Is this the country I had been so proud of in India and constantly compared to Mumbai? Is this the best England can manage to produce with its capital city?  It was nothing like San Francisco.


The coach stopped at the London coach station. I had thought of having lunch there, but soon changed my mind as I went down the stairs into the shopping centre and saw a bunch of waifs and strays roaming around a cheap supermarket. I didn't like the look of the people and decided to head straight to Harrods. But I needed to use the Ladies' toilet. Cost of using the public toilet? 50 pence (Rs35)!! I was shocked. Although overpriced, I figured it would be safe and clean as the undesirables would never spend that much. I was right.


Next I stepped onto the tube. Unimpressive. Litter was scattered on the platform. To a newcomer (like me), the London Underground came across as old-fashioned, like something from the past century, and uncomfortable.  The routes and lines still didn't allow you  to make the journeys you wanted directly, instead forcing you to make changes. You walked so much between tube lines, you might as well have walked the whole distance. The yellow and green lines were still slow and useless. The brown line was still the best. On the tube, I looked around and there was an Asian man in a suit sat down,  a group of Italians talking loudly and what seemed to be a bunch of foreigners everywhere. When foreigners come to England, is this what they see? Do they know there is a whole world of England out there, beyond this, beyond London? Probably not, because you get sucked in.


People sat or stood on the tube in absolute silence. I chuckled at the thought of how noisy the same train would be in Mumbai. In London everyone looked miserable, everyone was ignoring each other, and everyone seemed to hate their lives. No wonder. I got entranced in staring at people, imagining their lives but avoiding eye contact. Everyone was also badly dressed. One man got on, with skinny jeans, trainers, a green urban jacket and ipod earphones in his ears. He had deliberately dressed like a yob, to fit in. No one looked like this in Somerset.


We reached Knightsbrige and I walked straight to Harrods. A doorman said, "Hello, Ma'am," as I walked inside. "This is more like it," I mused. "I feel more at home." I was glad I had dressed to impress. India had taught me the Art of that. I looked ''the part"" and the Harrods staff recognised that. But straight away though I was told to leave my suitcase in Left Luggage at Harrods, and that I could not bring it into the store. The cost? 3 (Rs215). I had now  spent 3.50 (Rs250) before even doing anything. My plan was to have lunch inside Harrods. After all, you only live once. But a coffee was 4 (Rs300) and a panini ₤15 (Rs 1,000). I figured that although I looked the part, I wasn't quite ready to be the part, and slipped outside to have lunch at a nearby trendy sandwich bar. The cappuccinos and sandwiches appeared to be the same prices, as they had been when I left for India. The varieties hadn't changed either. Weird. I sat outside, managing a sandwich, cappuccino and chocolate bar,  for ₤5 (Rs 350) but did not feel comfortable. Immediately two waifs and strays appeared and hovered near a dustbin, opposite my table. I wondered if they were planning on mugging me. I ate my sandwich, clutching my bag between my knees. I never had to do this in Somerset, I thought.


I swiftly returned to Harrods, one of the few places, I felt comfortable in London. The staff were all dressed smartly and looked clean and immaculate, as they do at five stars in Mumbai. They all called me Maám . I felt at home. It was a Mumbai five star experience on offer here in London. I bought something expensive in the cosmetics section. The lady offered me a Harrods loyalty card. Of course, why not? I looked the part. I wandered around the Food Hall for hours, marvelling at what was on display, things I had never seen in India. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I used the luxury toilets, and of course, there were fine perfumes to sample, and a foreign-looking lady inside who washed your hands for you, or got your a paper towel. This was just like the Taj in Colaba! I sprayed Guilty by Gucci on. The five stars in Mumbai had been fabulous and it was great to be able to experience that here, again, I mused. I visited the memorial to Diana and Dodi by the Egyptian escalator. There was a Dubai-esque feel to the place. Grotty London was a world away. In the same way that when in five stars in Mumbai, grotty Mumbai is a world away.


It dawned on me that the two cities had a lot in common: they were both where locals and foreigners flocked to make money, pursue careers or get fame. But neither city was attractive, both were grotty, and neither represented the soul of the country at large. I understood now why some of my Indian friends preferred to live in Chandigarh, Ahmedabad or Pune, rather than Mumbai. And in the same way overpopulation of Mumbai, was ruining it, so is the overpopulation of London ruining it.  In Mumbai there had been open areas of rubbish, where people simply dumped rubbish, which stray animals then fed from. Dustbins barely existed. In London, they did, but litter was strewn across pavements. There were no stray dogs in London, but plenty of stray pigoens picking at litter and feral-looking people. The buildings in the suburbs of Mumbai, such as in Bandra and Andheri, were far from aesthetically-pleasing and often substandard quality inside with monsoon leaks, revolting furniture, no water and peeling paint.
Similarly houses in London were nowhere near the same quality as those new homes you find outside the capital. Yet you pay through the nose to live in both cities.
Of course, south Mumbai has many visual architectural exceptions, as do touristy parts of central London. But the suburbs in both cities visually, at least, leave a lot to be desired. In Mumbai you have unalluring slums. In London you have unattractive council estates. 
Both cities have their selling points - such as nightlife, men, food and culture. That was what I planned to check out in London next. But already I could understand why Londoners raved about Mumbai so much. There wasn't much difference between the two cities, unlike comparing say either to Somerset. Even the laissez-faire attitude, found in Mumbai, was there in London. 
"You write in your blog that London is grotty, and we Londoners will just laugh. We know it's like that and we like it," my London friend said.

26 comments:

M.D said...

fantastic comparison!! just that there is a major difference in the outlook of people residing in both the lands . Just for the sake of comparison you spoke about the train scenario "In London everyone looked miserable, everyone was ignoring each other, and everyone seemed to hate their lives." and you even imagined the noisy trains of mumbai. people there are generally happy, content &co-operative. i wouldn't know your experiences but just stating mine. Indians(and i am talking about the common man and not the social elites) do know the essence of life, relationships and colors in their lives. if you do find similarities in the people of both these cities please do tell me. :)

Montoyaa said...

i absolutely love London.

1) everyone walks in London.
2) its too expensive to drive vehicles there, ppl almost always travel in tubes.
3) amazing food.
4) ppl from all parts of the world.

But do i want to live in london, only if i get paid like crazy. Its just too expensive to be normal there. Same with Mumbai. Actually i dont want to live in Mumbai even if i get paid really well.

Anshul said...

Hey Naomi...I see you are still converting ₤ to Rs!! This is one funny habbit we get whenever we return from overseas travel.... :)

Matt said...

Interesting to know that Mumbai taught you to dress smartly. Quite surprised that you had to learn to appropriately dress for parties the hard way. I thought in such parties the dress-rules never applied to foreigners (whites, actually).
Anyway nice comparison of the cities. Mumbai and London seems to have a lot in common, don't think that the same can be said with Somerset and an Indian village.
Quite a different picture of London here. Perhaps photos of your journey, contrasting Somerset and London, would have supplemented your narration.

Mick said...

Yep that's England 2010 a bit clockwork orange but one has to live in it so one does. But this is why walking about Indian cities is such fun it ain't like that. Might I suggest going to the houses of parliament where the park meets Westminster and walk about like a tourist and try taking pics amongst the anti-suicide bomber stuff. In reality the touristy bits of London are as good as any European capital, but it's the bit between the country IE Somerset and them which is horrendous mostly which ever way you approach the centre of London one of the problems on the approaches is the vast number of different ethnic groups living higgledy piggledy they haven't had a chance to form communities, coming into London from Norwich by coach going through mile end it's quite amazing at about 8.30am but at 3.00pm totally different. But surely you are used to the prices by now but I suppose trendy sandwich bars etc are few and far between in Somerset.

But Naomi the bit you say you don't miss the honking noisy chaos of the streets I do it is so alive and good humoured compared to London just the pollution.

Naomi said...

This was taken off a link to this blog on Facebook

R: Whilst to a degree, of course you're analysis is right, I think you are missing some fundamentals. Mainly - its a question of scale. There is a functioning welfare system in the UK, brought about, by and large, because people pay their tax...es. So whilst there is poverty in the UK, it isnt on the same scale as in Mumbai - you have to admit that. I've never met anybody - and I mean anybody - in the UK who is anywhere near as poor as people I know in India, even if you try to make allowances for the different cost of living. It's a trueism in the UK that "nobody actually starves". We should be proud of that. Similarly, having lived in London for a good part of my life, never once did the water simply not work (drinkable tap water of course), whereas in Mumbai - it happens frequently. Ditto the internet. So whilst both cities often fail their citizens, it's hard to argue that they both equally fail their citizens. Look at the way in which the water tanker companies in Mumbai hold the city to ransom; look at the dysfunction between the various infrstrature bodies on how the Sea Link was supposed to join the road in Worli. Whilst dysfunction and corruption exist in London - its not on the same scale.

Also the poor in Britain are not generally from the country - coming to the city to earn a crust. In a way, the immigration/emigration from cities to the country in Britain is the reverse of that in India. Poverty and urban decay in the UK are generallyl (not always, I know) metropolitan problems by the failure - for whatever reason - of infrastructure and systems in inner cities.

Nonetheless - good to see that Harrods is still insanely expensive! (Even then - is it really any expensive, in real terms, than Zenzi?).

One thing I completely agree with you is that I have never once felt once felt threatened in Mumbai. You get used to that very quickly.

Naomi said...

More from Facebook...

N: Oh, Richard, I completely agree with you. Poverty in Mumbai is far worse than that in London. Moreover poverty in Britain is largely self-induced, by that I mean it is lazy people who see , in David Cameron's words, "the benefit system as a... lifestyle choice," who end up being poor. There is enough work in England for everyone. There is also enough work in Indi for everyone. How many times have you not been able to persuade a cab or rickshaw to take you? In India there is real poverty, that is homeless people on the pavements etc. In England its drug addicts and criminals who are poor. However I am not aware that anyone actually starves in India, as I thought they a) had ration cards and b) anyone could get free food from a temple.
Harrods is still expensive, but rather Dubai-ish - got that Arabic/Dubai/go crazy and spend all your money feel. Plus the doormen, the Maám language and they even have lady assistants in the loos to wash your hands (who you can tip.)
You are also right that in the UK moving to rural areas is a sign of wealth, not poverty and we see migration in the reverse of that of India: people move to villages when they have made it..(Hence my adoration of Somerset.)

S: Naomi, there are actual people in India who can and do starve to death. You have the Vidharbha farmer suicides as but one example. Rural India has a lot more poverty than the urban centers.

N: I thought all Indians had ration cards that gave them free food, like a bag of rice?

Mick said...

There is of course no comparison between mumbai and London really, but I think your amazement at the cost of a loo is now 50p mush the same as in European cities according to the value of the euro, in Amsterdam in front of the Rijksmuseam there's a loo that costs 50c and has glass doors to the cubicles that turn opaque when you shut them worth 50p of anyone's money. Still it wont be long before the poor are driven out, by the CUTS. I have some friends who just brought a place close to where the high speed rail link will go through where they live so i was invited to join the stop the HSL website all of these people voted for the Tories and lib dems, in case no one noticed they announced that the link is to go ahead. Of course when i pointed out that their contribution to making the place look untidy, houses farms etc this was not appreciated. We live in interesting times that could be leading up to the complete obliteration of a politically party.
You do find so interesting stuff if you look.

Mick said...

Where did you find that on face book reads like an essay for a Development Studies course at the UEA. London is a dieing capital of a once world power heading towards the 3rd world. Mumbai is a growing powerhouse of a country heading towards the 1st world there is no way you can compare the two except light heartedly, as i thought Naomi's blog was.
Now all the poor are criminals who make lifestyle decisions to rip off the good old taxpayer. Except of course the ex chair of the Tory party LORD Ashcroft who lied to get his peerage and is still avoiding paying tax in this country along with many other individuals and businesses indeed were you one of the businesses/individuals wishing to avoid paying tax AS A LIFESTYLE CHOICE, then KMPG PwC and Enst&Young will sell you ways to do it. All of this while Osbourne and co are destroying the state.

Cameron's first action the day after the election was to stop both Norwich and Exeter becoming Unitary councils why because both county councils are Tory led so whatever party is ELECTED here people who live 50 miles away control what happens in Norwich. SO MUCH for the BIG SOCIETY Dave.
I wonder what sort of limit they are going to put on the number of children the poor can have probably around about 1.2 after all 2.4 would give them far to much child benefit that could be going to the better off. Same with the winter heating allowance and bus passes rich pensioners need these far more than the poor. After no one gives a **** if they freeze to death.

viksdes said...

Saw the mention of Zenzi bar..guess R is talking abt the bar in bandra...having lived in mumbai and london for significant years ( I am Indian) I can say the energies of both these citys are electrifying. I used to live in bandra where things worked ( the rent was as good as staying in wembley park area from where I moved to India). Both these citys are stressful, Indians fair better in dealing stress due to close knit familys and collective living culture. In London the gray skies and cold climate add to the depression angle I feel. But it's been an experience living in London and in Mumbai and wouldn't want to change a thing about it.

Mick said...

Regarding the rich and the poor, Mukesh Ambani the richest person in India has just built himself a house in mumbai all 27 storeys of it at a cost of £630m don't think there's enough room to put that figure in rupees. But this illustrates a point I was trying to make, the richest person in England wouldn't build the same in London, the richest English person probably doesn't live here anyway. This has parking space for 168 cars, the equivalent of 33 floors for garden space, and two floors as refuges in case the poor decided to move in. It will be 570ft high.
600 staff will attend it and the family living there. Being 570ft tall it will provide shade for lots of beggars will it not.

My first experience of India as Naomi knows was 30yrs ago my last last winter my next this winter fingers crossed. 30yrs ago there were many more beggars than now, admittedly I was in the wealthiest, healthiest state. But changing the culture will take many years so the things that ail India won't change overnight, but they will have to in the end, or it could go to the extreme of having gated cities where the poor enter to work at whatever time and have to leave at a given time a sort of nightmare world where technology will zap any one who stays.

As MD says about the ordinary Indian they know the essence of life and that is what makes India so enjoyable. I like to find building sites and eat in the cafe that serves the workers.

IndianBlogger said...

Lovely read... some pretty bold statements there - sharing your thoughts about the cost etc. Well done. It is amazing that you capture exactly how most of my friends I know did about calculating every bit of cost by converting it from the Rupees.

Luckily enough, the best advice I got was to NOT do it or would end up starving! So I really never converted the cost and in fact used to say wow this meal is only Rs 5 (pounds but I used to say Rupees)! That way I enjoyed it more!

This way I also ended up with the luxury of buying stuff that I would not even try at Rupee value.

I also agree with the underground narration - I found it totally soulless; robotic - people walking in, getting off, either on ipods or reading, almost never smiling.

Worst were the south asians who would almost run away from you - God knows why they did that, I would have imagined them to be warm to fellow south asians - but pathetic. On sharing this with one of my friends, It was funny when she remarked that maybe they were afraid that seeing in company of other south asian you attract attention and maybe get caught due to being illegal! LOL!

The other thing also annoyed me no end was that in London (which I may tend to believe was an isolated trend) was guys almost ready to push you over if you approached them to ask anything - they thought you were selling something! And again it turned out to be really funny because when I approached a guy, he raised his hands as if to hit me but ended up listening to the address I was asking him for - he was totally embarrassed because he ended up being a colleague from our Scotland office! He then had to ask me to come with him with a dark pink face (being so fair sometimes is not so good after all LOL)!

All said and done, I would still not say that London is too different from any other busy city - you could find the above even in Indian cities so my comments do not mean to degrade London at all.

It has its charm, the beauty in its own 'oldness'... the tower bridge, oxford street, the museums, the black cabs and red buses.

Its a shame that most of the people cannot afford to live in London - now that is a huge cost to pay in my view - you dont want the world famous city to be accessible to only a few... somethings needs to be done, and that too very soon.

IndianBlogger said...

Lovely read... some pretty bold statements there - sharing your thoughts about the cost etc. Well done. It is amazing that you capture exactly how most of my friends I know did about calculating every bit of cost by converting it from the Rupees.

Luckily enough, the best advice I got was to NOT do it or would end up starving! So I really never converted the cost and in fact used to say wow this meal is only Rs 5 (pounds but I used to say Rupees)! That way I enjoyed it more!

This way I also ended up with the luxury of buying stuff that I would not even try at Rupee value.

I also agree with the underground narration - I found it totally soulless; robotic - people walking in, getting off, either on ipods or reading, almost never smiling.

Worst were the south asians who would almost run away from you - God knows why they did that, I would have imagined them to be warm to fellow south asians - but pathetic. On sharing this with one of my friends, It was funny when she remarked that maybe they were afraid that seeing in company of other south asian you attract attention and maybe get caught due to being illegal! LOL!

The other thing also annoyed me no end was that in London (which I may tend to believe was an isolated trend) was guys almost ready to push you over if you approached them to ask anything - they thought you were selling something! And again it turned out to be really funny because when I approached a guy, he raised his hands as if to hit me but ended up listening to the address I was asking him for - he was totally embarrassed because he ended up being a colleague from our Scotland office! He then had to ask me to come with him with a dark pink face (being so fair sometimes is not so good after all LOL)!

All said and done, I would still not say that London is too different from any other busy city - you could find the above even in Indian cities so my comments do not mean to degrade London at all.

It has its charm, the beauty in its own 'oldness'... the tower bridge, oxford street, the museums, the black cabs and red buses.

Its a shame that most of the people cannot afford to live in London - now that is a huge cost to pay in my view - you dont want the world famous city to be accessible to only a few... somethings needs to be done, and that too very soon.

Anonymous said...

From the IndianBlogger:

Lovely read... some pretty bold statements there - sharing your thoughts about the cost etc. Well done. It is amazing that you capture exactly how most of my friends I know did about calculating every bit of cost by converting it from the Rupees.

Luckily enough, the best advice I got was to NOT do it or would end up starving! So I really never converted the cost and in fact used to say wow this meal is only Rs 5 (pounds but I used to say Rupees)! That way I enjoyed it more!

This way I also ended up with the luxury of buying stuff that I would not even try at Rupee value.

I also agree with the underground narration - I found it totally soulless; robotic - people walking in, getting off, either on ipods or reading, almost never smiling.

Worst were the south asians who would almost run away from you - God knows why they did that, I would have imagined them to be warm to fellow south asians - but pathetic. On sharing this with one of my friends, It was funny when she remarked that maybe they were afraid that seeing in company of other south asian you attract attention and maybe get caught due to being illegal! LOL!

The other thing also annoyed me no end was that in London (which I may tend to believe was an isolated trend) was guys almost ready to push you over if you approached them to ask anything - they thought you were selling something! And again it turned out to be really funny because when I approached a guy, he raised his hands as if to hit me but ended up listening to the address I was asking him for - he was totally embarrassed because he ended up being a colleague from our Scotland office! He then had to ask me to come with him with a dark pink face (being so fair sometimes is not so good after all LOL)!

All said and done, I would still not say that London is too different from any other busy city - you could find the above even in Indian cities so my comments do not mean to degrade London at all.

It has its charm, the beauty in its own 'oldness'... the tower bridge, oxford street, the museums, the black cabs and red buses.

Its a shame that most of the people cannot afford to live in London - now that is a huge cost to pay in my view - you dont want the world famous city to be accessible to only a few... somethings needs to be done, and that too very soon.

IndianBlogger said...

From the IndianBlogger:

Lovely read... some pretty bold statements there - sharing your thoughts about the cost etc. Well done. It is amazing that you capture exactly how most of my friends I know did about calculating every bit of cost by converting it from the Rupees.

Luckily enough, the best advice I got was to NOT do it or would end up starving! So I really never converted the cost and in fact used to say wow this meal is only Rs 5 (pounds but I used to say Rupees)! That way I enjoyed it more!

This way I also ended up with the luxury of buying stuff that I would not even try at Rupee value.

I also agree with the underground narration - I found it totally soulless; robotic - people walking in, getting off, either on ipods or reading, almost never smiling.

Worst were the south asians who would almost run away from you - God knows why they did that, I would have imagined them to be warm to fellow south asians - but pathetic. On sharing this with one of my friends, It was funny when she remarked that maybe they were afraid that seeing in company of other south asian you attract attention and maybe get caught due to being illegal! LOL!

The other thing also annoyed me no end was that in London (which I may tend to believe was an isolated trend) was guys almost ready to push you over if you approached them to ask anything - they thought you were selling something! And again it turned out to be really funny because when I approached a guy, he raised his hands as if to hit me but ended up listening to the address I was asking him for - he was totally embarrassed because he ended up being a colleague from our Scotland office! He then had to ask me to come with him with a dark pink face (being so fair sometimes is not so good after all LOL)!

All said and done, I would still not say that London is too different from any other busy city - you could find the above even in Indian cities so my comments do not mean to degrade London at all.

It has its charm, the beauty in its own 'oldness'... the tower bridge, oxford street, the museums, the black cabs and red buses.

Its a shame that most of the people cannot afford to live in London - now that is a huge cost to pay in my view - you dont want the world famous city to be accessible to only a few... somethings needs to be done, and that too very soon.

IndianBlogger said...

From the IndianBlogger:

Lovely read... some pretty bold statements there - sharing your thoughts about the cost etc. Well done. It is amazing that you capture exactly how most of my friends I know did about calculating every bit of cost by converting it from the Rupees.

Luckily enough, the best advice I got was to NOT do it or would end up starving! So I really never converted the cost and in fact used to say wow this meal is only Rs 5 (pounds but I used to say Rupees)! That way I enjoyed it more!

This way I also ended up with the luxury of buying stuff that I would not even try at Rupee value.

I also agree with the underground narration - I found it totally soulless; robotic - people walking in, getting off, either on ipods or reading, almost never smiling.

Worst were the south asians who would almost run away from you - God knows why they did that, I would have imagined them to be warm to fellow south asians - but pathetic. On sharing this with one of my friends, It was funny when she remarked that maybe they were afraid that seeing in company of other south asian you attract attention and maybe get caught due to being illegal! LOL!

The other thing also annoyed me no end was that in London (which I may tend to believe was an isolated trend) was guys almost ready to push you over if you approached them to ask anything - they thought you were selling something! And again it turned out to be really funny because when I approached a guy, he raised his hands as if to hit me but ended up listening to the address I was asking him for - he was totally embarrassed because he ended up being a colleague from our Scotland office! He then had to ask me to come with him with a dark pink face (being so fair sometimes is not so good after all LOL)!

IndianBlogger said...

--cont---

The other thing also annoyed me no end was that in London (which I may tend to believe was an isolated trend) was guys almost ready to push you over if you approached them to ask anything - they thought you were selling something! And again it turned out to be really funny because when I approached a guy, he raised his hands as if to hit me but ended up listening to the address I was asking him for - he was totally embarrassed because he ended up being a colleague from our Scotland office! He then had to ask me to come with him with a dark pink face (being so fair sometimes is not so good after all LOL)!

All said and done, I would still not say that London is too different from any other busy city - you could find the above even in Indian cities so my comments do not mean to degrade London at all.

It has its charm, the beauty in its own 'oldness'... the tower bridge, oxford street, the museums, the black cabs and red buses.

Its a shame that most of the people cannot afford to live in London - now that is a huge cost to pay in my view - you dont want the world famous city to be accessible to only a few... something needs to be done, and that too very soon.

Naomi Canton said...

Hi Indian Blogger, Thanks for sharing your views here! Much appreciated:) And Mick the story about Mukesh Ambani buying the huge monstrous property in Mumbai is doing all the rounds on Facebook...I don't have a strong view on that. But as for the two cities, I guess what I learnt was, that I had perhaps been harsh on Mumbai when there, as clearly many of its problems were due to the population (problems such as poor transport infrastructure, open rubbish, overflowing rubbish, stray dogs everywhere, beggars) as indeed, what astonished me, was that similar problems exist in London (that I had forgotten about!!) - that is beggars or muggers (!), stray pigeons, appalling public transport, poor quality of life compared to what you find outside London in places like the South East and south West. I love the ease in which I can go to a leisure centre in Somerset or Berkshire, or a yoga class or a supermarket - all of which are far harder in London. I was saying to an Indian friend how pleased I was I had found a great yoga class in Somerset - and how despite 3 years in Mumbai, I had never found one class there. And he pointed out that perhaps if I lived in central London, I would face the same problem.

Mick said...

Hi Naomi
I did a quick trip to London yesterday to get Indian visa and tried to see it from you point of view and sorry couldn't, this might be because the approach from the north is quicker or the time I was passing through the east end but try as I did I saw no-one who looked threatening. But was amazed at the percentages of different ethnic groups in the east end, and the lack of them in the city, in other European cities virtually all the workers IE street cleaners etc are immigrants but not in London. Even in Stratford where so much work is being done. I got back to Norwich and as soon as I got of the coach I was confronted by the sort of people you refer to as being on the streets of London suburbs. You need to come and see what it's like in Norwich now.

Stray pigeon made me laugh but sure enough there were some in the waiting area at Victoria. I'm to old to bother with Facebook much I only use it cause some American friends said it was easier than email.

pramod said...

I bet even New york is equally bad. There has to be whole rethink of building places to live in which would be more considerate towards well being for a human being rather than just concrete and boring cities, which is the case now.

Mumbai, London, Paris, New york - to name a few are places where people are miserable and are sharing their misery with others. This is from my personal experience in london, Iam sure it is worse in Mumbai, being an Indian myself.

I think it would be fair to say we need to be closer to nature, less stressful and happier and richer within before we look for materialism.

¥EN said...

Touche !!! Colaba, Strand, Metro, Hill Road Bandra, Taj, Samovar, Lil Black Dress and Pumps(shoes) you got a quick experience of Mumbai in 3 years :-)

Loved this part and was laughing away to glory, especially the last punch line :p

excellently described trvellogue of " A Tale of Two Cities " Mumbai & London

Maybe watch bollywood mushy bmovie London-New York-Paris by Yash Chopra to see the beautiful side.

What I like about Mumbai, London, Kolkata

Old Heritage Architecture
Great for a summer walk.
But Puhleez stay off from
A Museums
B Snooty set ( normally stiff upper lip)
C Overcrowded places
D Malls and departmental stores

Always street cafes and flea markets are best in any metrolpollis at times you get great home made eats and wonderful bargains

All big metrolpolis are insensitive because , people are too busy in the Rat Race

Ciao
Great Post

¥EN said...

In case you do come back Naomi, get into real simple Mumbaikars.
They are the most simple and natural people, the more you go north more artificial people you get. The people in "Town" are a class apart, they think that they know the best, whereas their collective iq of a south mumbai party would be less than 100, and size of medula smaller than that of a Pea hean :-)

I prefer wherever i Live, till Now Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata stay closer to simple ordinary people, use, public transport, stay in south, party in North. worked well. Southern part of ANY CITY IS snooty/artificial and costs a bomb , thats my tip to you.

¥EN said...

In case you do come back Naomi, get into real simple Mumbaikars.
They are the most simple and natural people, the more you go north more artificial people you get. The people in "Town" are a class apart, they think that they know the best, whereas their collective iq of a south mumbai party would be less than 100, and size of medula smaller than that of a Pea hean :-)

I prefer wherever i Live, till Now Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata stay closer to simple ordinary people, use, public transport, stay in south, party in North. worked well. Southern part of ANY CITY IS snooty/artificial and costs a bomb , thats my tip to you.

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