I left New York 2 weeks ago, and after a wild ride through Israel and Vietnam I’m now back in India for good.  I’m very happy to be here, and although Mumbai isn’t the easiest place to live, I’m slowly getting my bearings.  Here’s some initial thoughts:

  • India is very hot.  It’s been about 97 during the day, last night was 82 at midnight.  I sweat a lot.
  • Mumbai is really big and congested.  The infrastructure is exploding at the seams.  It would take me 2-3 hours on a good day to get all the way downtown.  Generally it’s about a 30-45 minute cab ride to get anywhere (partly because it’s far, mostly because of traffic).
  • My apartment is really cool.  2 beds/2 baths/4 balconies, brand new building.  Here’s a pic of my living room and view:

  • My neighborhood is kinda out of the way and tough to get to – I’m also more or less surrounded by slums.  There is a grocery store and one respectable restaurant within walking distance, very important.
  • Indian people are really nice and have made me feel really welcome.  I met some guys at work who have gone out of there way to help me and take me out been taking me out, I haven’t spent a night home since I’ve been here.  The nightlife is great and I’m relatively close (20 min) to a neighborhood called Bandra which has a lot of fun bars and restaurants.  We went to a club called Blue Frog last weekend that had Afro-Cuban music.
  • My neighbors also have been really helpful.  The family next door sees me looking confused all the time (since I have no idea where anything is or how to get there) and have given me a lot of help.  They also bought be some chocolates for Diwali.
  • Indian people and I share a common love for fireworks.  Because it was Diwali (and last time I was here it was the Ganesh festival), there has been a ridiculous amount of fireworks at all times of the night.
  • People are really curious what I’m doing here, I get asked really personal questions (how much money do you make?).  A group of kids also followed me in the supermarket and kept reciting the name of the fruit in Hindi and asking me what it was in English.  I also get stared at sometimes, but all I can really do is stare back and eventually laugh.
  • There are a lot of cows that just wander around my ‘hood.
  • Before coming here and after my first trip I thought that everyone spoke English.  This isn’t true.  It seems like the less educated people (including security guards and cabbies) speak almost no english.  Because I live out of the way, and can’t give good instructions, getting home from anywhere involves writing my address down (including the 1 or 2 not famous landmarks nearby) and having a rickshaw driver (who can’t read english) drive for 5 minutes, stop and show someone the piece of paper, drive for 5 more minutes, stop and show the paper until we get home.
  • Mumbai is the most expensive city in India, but it’s still very cheap.  A decent meal at a resteraunt costs around $2, a liter of water is 20 cents, a 45-min cab ride is around $2, I bought a ridiculous amount of groceries for like $7.  Though booze can be expensive depending on where you go.  I went to a nice place and accidentally ordered a $20 glass of johnnie black (ouch).
  • Although cricket dominates, I found a pretty good basketball game at the YMCA.  I met a guy who plays on their semi-pro club team, he told me when they play and invited me down.  I’m going to check it out next week.  Phase one complete for my secret  “how to make a living playing semi-pro basketball in a foreign country” plan.  Here’s a shot of the YMCA:

Generally I’m happy with where I am and looking forward to starting work tomorrow.  I have an extra bedroom, friends… come visit.

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