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Posts Tagged ‘Street vendors’

Published in HT Cafe on March 9, 2010.  Page 20

Buying milk in Mumbai is so asy, it’s absurd. The `kirana’ shop only has Amul Shakti when you prefer Taaza? No problem, the shopkeeper can probably source your preferred milk from a nearby store. Don’t feel like making the long 200-metre trek to the shop? No problem, the shopkeeper will probably deliver your Rs 35 package to your doorstep. Don’t have the Rs 35 on hand? No problem, the shopkeeper will probably look you in the eyes and offer credit, with the unspoken commitment that you will repay within 24 hours.

After living in Mumbai for nearly four years, I am still amazed at how easily credit is extended and taken. I’m not talking about the credit used to purchase houses and automobiles. Nor am I talking about Mohammad Yunus- style microcredit, in which women are extended loans to jump start microbusinesses. I’m talking about informal micromini-credit, better known as the casual “no worries, pay me later” attitude displayed by many local business people. (more…)

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The Mumbai Suburban Railway. Mumbai’s arteries, veins, and capillaries rolled into one functional hunk of steel. Even after living in this bulging metropolis for so long, I am continually amazed by the efficiency of its semi-antiquated local rail network. This is not a network built to help, say, a quaint German hamlet go about its daily business. This is a network that carries upwards of 10 million bodies – approximately 60% of Mumbai’s population – up and down its slender archipelagic body on a daily basis. Her compartments (yes, Mumbai’s train system is feminine in my eyes) do not try to please the occasional tourist’s camera lens; they are designed to take space efficiency to the next level. Similarly, the majority of her stations are not aesthetically pleasing in any conventional sense; rather, they are giant containers through which daily passengers… well, pass. But then again, what do you expect from a train whose body parts are called dabbas, or “boxes,” in Hindi? (more…)

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