1. What makes you happy in this city?

Local

Nothing makes me happier than to go sit at my rooftop early in the morning, just as the sun is about to rise. Mumbai is a quintessential city, constantly buzzing with life and energy. The one thing it lacks though, for the most part, is peace and quiet. A good time to find that would be at about 5 a.m. It’s also a good time to enjoy the cityscapes on a roof-top without facing the wrath of the sun!

Visitor

The energy in Mumbai is unlike any city I have ever inhabited. I’ve met visitors who made the mistake of only seeing the chaos and leaving as quickly as they came. Mumbai may not be the India of mountains and yogis, but its beauty, culture, and wonder are boundless. I love the seemingly daily celebrations and the mishmash of ancient and newly developed.

2. WHAT INSPIRES YOU IN THIS CITY?

Local

Mumbai is not a cheap city to live in. Getting a job is difficult, and most fields are saturated. Thus, over the years, us Mumbaikars have developed an entrepreneurial spirit. Several people around the city have started independent businesses and professions. This helps them sustain their standard of life. These small businesses range from selling hand-made instruments on the street to going to people’s homes and sharpening their kitchen knives. I’m being completely serious when I say I met a guy once who cleans ears as a profession.

Visitor

Despite being home to more poverty than I have ever seen, I am constantly surprised by the generousity and boldness of strangers. Only in Mumbai have strangers invited me to share meals with them on the train or invited me into their homes, even in the slum. Only in Mumbai have so many strangers insisted I take their photo or so strongly forbidden it (even in the form of throwing a dead fish at me).

3. WHAT WORKS FOR YOU VERY WELL IN THE CITY?

Local

What works for me is that there’s always something to do. You can always find something to occupy your time with. Sometimes there are so many events worth attending, it’s difficult to make a choice! There are concerts, gigs, plays and folk events that happen all over the city almost every day.

Visitor

Say what you will about Mumbai’s insanity, but it works. Its systems may be hard to understand, but there is a method to everything. Like the trains, that will never actually be big enough, but seem to get the job done, even if you have to hold on to the outside; or, more impressively, the dhobi ghats, that have 10 000 employees a day, working long shifts. Over 100,000 garments are washed here daily, yet my laundry was always returned within 24 hours without missing so much as a sock.

4. WHAT WOULD YOU DO BETTER?

Local

I would re-sensitize peoples minds. People from the middle and upper classes seem to have grown indifferent to little children on the street. Several of us would be completely unaffected if a beggar-child came up to our car at a signal and asked for money. They’d probably roll up their windows and pretend it never happened.

Visitor

Get rid of all the junk. Everywhere you look in Mumbai something has been abandoned or discarded, and someone is littering. Arguably there are more pressing issues in the city, such as poverty and corruption. However, there is an ever-increasing number of NGOs developing Mumbai, and corruption is a huge problem throughout the country that must be remedied on a federal level.

5. HOW WOULD YOU DO IT BETTER?

Local

Rudayna’s photograph says a lot about the junk that’s collected around most of the city. The way I’ve edited this photo shows that a very small initiative by us, as individuals, could make a huge difference to the city. If we each spent a few hours every week just picking up junk from around our homes, it would not only make for a cleaner city, but it would also make for a much prettier city!

Visitor

I have edited Tanvi’s photo of these children so that it appears they are in front of a school. Giving money to poor children may help them momentarily satisfy their hunger, but it does absolutely nothing to improve their long-term situation. These children need and deserve to be in school.

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