Monday, August 1, 2011

Gateway to India: Mumbai

This is indeed India! The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra in the jungle, the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterdays bear date with the smoldering antiquities of the rest of the nations - the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.

MUMBAI: Love it or hate it, you can't ignore it. Mumbai is a temptress. Ravaged by time, history and circumstance, she has risen above it all with an easy grace. She is a city of dreams, despair, drama and dazzle, with heartbreaking poverty set within staggering grandeur. A city that sparkles with promise and glints with tears of desolation.

Mumbai is India's capital of finance. It is also India's capital of glamour. A Victorian townscape more reminiscent of a prosperous 19th-century English industrial city than anything you'd expect to find on the edge of the Arabian Sea, Mumbai bustles and buzzes.

It is the headquarters of the Indian film industry, known to Indians as Bollywood. It is a city of starlets, slum-dwellers, dancing girls, crusading activists and poets, all of whom drift into the city to make it big. It is also the ideal hub from which to explore the famous Ajanta and Ellora caves, Elephanta Island and the charming hill resorts of the Western Ghats.

Complex and interesting, being in Mumbai with its vibrant streetlife, India's best nightlife and thousands of open-air and enclosed bazaars is like being smack-bang in the middle of a Bollywood masala potboiler movie. Addictively filled with drama, absurdity, pathos, wonder and lots of fun.

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