The Gateway of India, the Gateway to Mumbai, a city on a quest for riches, for power, and for notoriety. King George the fifth and Queen Mary came ashore near here in December 1911. The huge stone Arch of Triumph commemorates the first-ever visit of a British Monarch to India. The monument marks the area as one of IndiaΉs major ports and as a principle point where many visitors originally arrived in India. Formerly it served to symbolize elements of the British grandeur and influence. The Victoria Terminus the statues, the wide avenues and well-manicured lawns all carry the theme of magnificence of another time a place for the few who have much.
The British have long since gone; even the citys name has been changed from Bombay to Mumbai. But the people of this Great City continue their quest for riches, for power, and for notoriety. It is their values. It is their truth.
(Map of Asia, narrowed to South Asia, India and then Mumbai)
Located on the West coast of the Indian subcontinent, with more than 17 million people, Mumbai is the most populated city in India. The Southern latitude, as well as the moderating influence of the Arabian Sea, keeps the temperature a tropical 75 to 95 degrees year-round, including during the annual deluge of the summer monsoon.
A city of enormous contrasts a city of perpetual growth it is also a peninsular city that cannot physically expand. Each month more than 10,000 people migrate to Mumbai from villages, towns and cities all over the country in search of a future, in search of hope for a better physical life for themselves and their families. They struggle to rid the boundaries of their caste. To find what it means to be created equal. Thousands believe they have met their objective. Millions have not.
And so, Mumbai has become a populous piled on top of one another squeezing into commuter train cars and busses elbows and fists, knees and shoulders pushing their way into the frenzy. It is a city zooming from one urgency to the next held captive by its pursuit of wealth. Only occasionally can they take time away to enjoy the pleasure of the popular Juhu Beach. Here games, ice cream, and visiting with friends only appear to be a change of pace. The rush and intensity continues like the man-powered Ferris wheel going ever faster despite the risk to those who provide the power. It is precarious. It is passionate. It is somehow urgent.
Home to the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Reserve Bank of India, and hundreds of major financial institutions and corporations Mumbai is the thriving financial capital of India. But while deals are made on the stock market floor, more than half of the population sleeps on the streets or in slums. Mumbai is the film capital of India, fondly called "Bollywood", making more films annually than Hollywood and is home to the glamorous, the rich and the famous.
Mumbai displays all of the characterists spawned by rampant corruption, social chasms, and political extremism. It is simultaneously the mafia capital, the AIDS capital, and the leading buyer of child prostitutes. Mumbai is a city full of disparity and discrimination.
Mumbai is also home to multitudes from across India. People from nearly every culture in the country find their residence somewhere in Mumbai. The largest group of people is the Marathi from the surrounding state of Maharashtra. Next most numerous are the Gujarati people, from the northern adjacent state of Gujarat. Then there are Telugu, Tamil, Keralites, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Nagas, Bengalis, Assamese, the Hindi speaking people from Uttar Pradesh, and literally hundreds more. All of these peoples have converged on Mumbai. Yet, their identity is still wrapped up in some way by their heritage and there is a continuing sense of community pride and affinity. However, that sense of community is diminishing as the lure of the rich global markets continue to bring greater numbers into the city than ever before.
All of these cultures are impacted by the now outlawed caste system by which they are affected in every way, including employment, marriage, social status and, much more deeply, religious convictions, their morality and their collective political sensibilities. Caste affects their dreams and ambitions, priorities and goals. Upon caste rests justice and public conscience, immorality and corruption. Determined by karma and past reincarnations, caste is a discriminator of persons, a scale of human worth. They believe themselves to be created unequal.
In truth, God creates them equal. It is a truth they do not yet understand. A truth they have never experienced.
Galatians 3:28 closing
Gujarat/Gujarati Gooj-ah-rah-t/ Gooj-ah-rah-tee
Uttar Pradesh Oo-tar-prah-desh
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