This post will be a short one because I only spent a long weekend in Mumbai. The purpose of the trip was not for tourism, but for something rather special. My brother has achieved remarkable success in his business and decided to give something back to the community, by working with Yuva Unstoppable. My parents have always believed that education is the most important asset that a person can have.
My brother decided to carry on that legacy by expanding an English school in an underprivileged area of Mumbai, along with naming the expanded school after my parents’ names. The school re-opening was a surprise for the family, so it was quite an emotional roller coaster of firstly surprising my parents with our entire family showing up on their vacation, and then the surprise of the school and the children who welcomed them.
During the weekend in Mumbai, we stayed at the JW Marriot Juhu Beach and really enjoyed the hotel’s exceptional service and its vicinity to Juhu Beach and the airport. The breakfast spread was great with a lot of variety, but the variety was wasted on us because we stuck to the excellent Indian food. The Masala Dosa was exceptional and the Aloo Roti was perfectly made. My family took advantage of the endless Chai being offered and had a wonderful time staying at the hotel.
We did manage to get some tourism locations into the itinerary, but we were very rushed and didn’t get the chance to really enjoy or explore the sites. Many of the sites we visited were extremely crowded and chaotic, and without time to figure things out, we were in and out pretty quickly.
When you see the Taj Hotel in South Mumbai, it’s hard to believe that this was one of the site’s of the 2008 terrorist attacks, where 147 people were killed in a coordinated attack on Mumbai. The Taj Hotel had a hostage situation and a number of people died from the bomb blasts. The hotel is exceedingly beautiful and a must visit in South Mumbai; it’s a great place to have high tea or to grab a relaxing drink.
One of the most photographed places in Mumbai must be the Gateway to India, so I decided to take a different approach to the monument and focus on the pigeons that call this monument their home.
One of the fun places we had the opportunity to visit was Soho House, also located on Juhu Beach. This is the only location in Asia at this time and it doesn’t disappoint, with a great crowd in a beautifully restored building.
School re-opening ceremony
The purpose of the trip was a surprise that my brother had arranged for our parents; he had arranged for an English school to be renovated and expanded, and for the school expansion to be in their name. My family intends for this to be the first of many schools we hope to upgrade to enable more students to improve their chances in this competitive world.
When we entered this underprivileged area of Mumbai (the locals call it a slum, so I will do the same here), I had certain biases on what to expect. Those biases turned out to be totally wrong, and I now realize how ignorant I was to the thriving communities within the slums of this amazing city. The slums are like an ecosystem within an ecosystem.
There is trade to the extent that every arbitrage opportunity you can imagine has been identified and maximized. The way that business is conducted, if the folks in the slums had the opportunity to take their skills outside of the slums, I’m confident they would be very successful business people. Every few minutes, a bicycle comes by selling daily use products; who needs Amazon Prime or Flipkart when you have this super efficient model?
While speaking with the school Principal, we learned that the main reason why children don’t go to school in the slums is due to the school’s condition. For female students especially, the sanitation situation is the most important variable; being able to visit a clean and private washroom is key to female education in these schools. When the washrooms are renovated, almost 100% of students attend school. Such a simple and minimal expense by western standards can change the destiny for 200+ students in this part of the world.
It was a great honour to spend the day with these students. I wish them all the best in their endeavour to learn English and obtain an education. I hope to visit them again soon!
Thank you for taking the time to read this short weekend in Mumbai post. Please leave any comments or questions below and I’ll be happy to provide any information that you’re looking for.