Mumbai has improved since our last visit 9 years ago but not to the extent that you can visibly see the changes unless you look for them. The airport looks larger and cleaner compared to the dirty mess it used to be.
As we were in India primarily for my niece's wedding, most of our days in Mumbai were taken up with the many traditional customs that make up Christian weddings in India. Suffice to say that drinking/eating/dancing are the main ingredients.
We did find the time to take a long bus ride for photo ops and strolled along the Colaba Causeway, also took a peep at the Leopolds restaurant where the Pakistani terrorists' went
haywire shooting at the customers. I was glad to see that the restaurant was doing a brisk business. Terrorists have always failed to dampen the spirit of Indians.
We also managed to get ourselves on one of the Mumbai trains to experience first hand the sights and sounds of people going about their daily lives. I love the way Indians communicate with complete strangers. During our less than an hour's journey from North Mumbai to the southern most station of Churchgate,
no less than a dozen commuters initiate some dialogue with us. Indian trains have separate compartments for women
travellers (they are free to travel in any compartment if they do not want to take advantage of these) and we travelled in one of these. One woman told us to sit by a window seat because we would feel less hot in that area, another told us which side the platform would be on while we peered from left to right trying to guess which side to stay closer to preparing to get off, and another told us that we had got ourselves on a fast train which did not stop at all stations,etc.etc. I was also much amused when a good-looking transgender (hijra) brought my attention
to a button that had come loose on my shirt and as I rebuttoned my shirt I said "thanks" and she said "say thanks by opening your purse" in other words "give me a tip". I pretended to misunderstand her as giving her a tip would mean that the group of other transgenders she was travelling with would have crowded around us clamoring for attention.
The Hijras of India depend on the generosity of the wealthy Hindu and Muslim families who invite them to dance and
give blessings to the bride/grooms during marriages and they substantiate their meagre wages by occasional begging.
India is truly a mystical land. You will find it hard when it comes to Indian women, especially in cosmopolitan cities
like Mumbai and Delhi to distinguish between Hindus, Muslims or Christians. We saw Muslim women wearing nose rings which
is primarily a Hindu adornment. We saw Hindu and Christian women wearing salwar/kameez which is primarily a Muslim attire
(minus the hijab). Hindus and Muslims will walk into church services with their Christian friends. Inter-marriage is
common and has lost the taboo it once had. If only those fundamental muslim nuts from other countries could learn
unity and tolerance from the progressive Indian Muslims from these cities, the world would be a better place.