- Articles by Expatriate Employees - World Report

Mumbai / India

Once Upon a Time in Mumbai

Masahiro Imai / Marubeni India Private Ltd.

 Rulers of the past accepted all aliens: settlers who experienced the diaspora, merchants who crossed the sea dreaming of quick success, migrants, disgraced loyal families, colonials…the list goes on. With an estimated population of sixteen million, Mumbai is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in India. Mumbai, having a deep natural harbor, is a commercial city that has developed into a megalopolis by reclaiming neighboring islands. It is only in more recent times that the Japanese have started to recognize India as a familiar country, thanks to a great deal of publicity (TV programs and magazines) surrounding India’s emergence as a member of the BRICs. Take Mumbai for example. It is a town where you can find a new discovery almost every day because of the incredibly diversity and the characteristics of the townscape. Locals compare the history of Mumbai and its recent soaring land prices to Manhattan, and call it the Manhattan of India.

 The dry season (from November to February) is the best season in Mumbai, when temperatures are the most moderate—there are some days that even seem chilly instead of comfortable. There are only two hundred odd Japanese in Mumbai, and there are relatively few entertainment activities beside sports on the weekend. I have difficulty finding ways to fill my spare time. Although I like Indian cuisine, I still have a craving for fresh raw fish. To satisfy the craving, I often leave home at six in the morning at weekends and go to the fish markets at the Sassoon Docks, which are home to a local fishing fleet. I head for my destination while competing with the young women who also visit the markets and sometimes dodging fish that fall from above. Finally, I can find sea bream, groupers, cutlass fish, tuna, butterfish, and other species. I feel like a treasure hunter. I buy a bunch of fish, pack them in ice, and go play golf. In the afternoon, like-minded friends and I clean the fish together to make sashimi. The sashimi will be served with drinks at night, attended by Japanese friends who hunger for fish. Sometimes, Indian neighbors and the landlord join in, and the multinational party continues until late in evening. This is the high point life in India for me.

 Twenty years have past. It is now February 2028. Mumbai (aka “Bollywood”), a center for the film industry, is boosted by the excitement of becoming the first Indian city to host the Olympics. Chaos, a trendy three-star Japanese-style cuisine restaurant in Mumbai, is packed with glittering Bollywood celebrities, who are regular nominees at the Academy Awards, and local big names, who rank high on international rich lists. At this restaurant, I enjoy the “sushi accentuated by a slight garam masala,” served by Indian sushi chefs, and a glass of a particularly fine Indian vintage while enjoying a fine view of the beautiful Mumbai Tower, which stands out from the surrounding skyscrapers. I am lost in thought, and my mind goes back to my life in India twenty years ago. This is not fiction but a real story that will take place in the future.

Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.45 (May, 2008)

  • The view of the cityscape from a high-rise condominium
  • Fish markets in Sassoon Docks.
  • Staff in the Mumbai Office
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), a World Heritage site

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