Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's the people of Mumbai who truly made our visit unforgettable

The sites were wonderful, the conference was educational, and the meetings were productive. But most of all, it's the people we met and interacted with that helped us experience the city as its best.

Thanks to
even the rug dealer
the singer in the band

Mumbai as a religious melting pot

This city has a long history of acceptance and tolerance of many, many religions. And while the population is about 80% Hindu, we saw a a variety of sects and faiths being practiced.

Here is a sampling of the dozens of Hindu temples, Muslim mosques, Christian churchs, and even a Parsee Zoroastrian temple (fire worshipers who migrated to India from Persian, or old Iran).

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mumbai’s laundry gets done here at Dhobit Ghat

In just our first hour of touring the city, we were shown a place beyond your wildest imagination. The Dhobit Ghat is the place where hundreds and hundreds of pieces of laundry are done each day. The Dhobi men wash the clothes by hand on concrete sinks and then dry them in the sun. And to keep it all straight, they use a generations-old system of markings on the clothes to make sure each piece is returned to its owner.

The photos only begin to describe the chaos, color, activity, and sounds that mixed together in this amazing place.

Lots of ways to get around Mumbai – but don’t drive!

Street Life of Mumbai

Newspapers and television commentators – along with the leaders of the Asia Brand Congress – all proclaim Mumbai as India’s greatest commercial hope. And while that may be true, it still only seems to apply to a relatively few of its people.

In a city of over 20 million (and expected to be the most populous in the world by 2020), there is still only one bus for every 1,300 people, 17 public toilets for every one million, and just one civic hospital serving 7.2 million.

Yet, somehow, the city continues to work. Perhaps because of the strong work ethic of the people.

Take a look of some of the street life around Mumbai.

A look at Mumbai healthcare

In our discussion with Rashmi and Joyti from BrandCare, we learned a lot about the pharma marketing models at work in India. And while the patient-physician-pharmacy flow may at first appear similar that of the U.S., there are some practical differences. For example, an average GP sees about 100-120 patients a day. And about 20 medical representatives a day, too!

Here are photos of major hospitals and pharmacies.

We also were reminded of a public health matter – the risk of TB – in the frequent messages “Do not spit.”

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our afternoon on Mumbai Fashion Street

This street bazaar went on for what seemed like blocks and blocks. It is the place to buy fabrics and inexpensive clothing – open 365 days a year ‘til 10 p.m.

If you enjoy a little bargaining (like Jenny and our friend Joyti did), you can get some excellent deals. If you're not in the mood to buy (like me), the people-watching is quite entertaining.

Architecture that blends the old and new of Mumbai

Historically one of Britain’s foremost imperial trading posts, Mumbai is graced with ornate Victorian architecture. With the help of our guide, Douglas, we saw how the British architects also incorporated local Hindu and Islamic themes into their Gothic and Italian influenced red brick structures.

This is apparent in the major buildings we visited: Victoria Terminus train station, Wilson College, Mumbai University, the Prince of Wales Museum, the Gateway of India, the Mumbai police headquarters, the Governor’s Palace, and the Taj Hotel.

Today, the skyline is undergoing a major revolution as more contemporary buildings, malls, and residential towers rise up – as a symbol of the emerging economic power that Mumbai and all of India represents.