As a child, I had lived there for a while (most of it in the Central suburbs before they came in demand). As an adult, I could not survive 6 months when I came for work. I blame the commute by local trains most of all for making me flee. My husband, on the other hand had always been used to the space and the 'Nawabi' attitude of Hyderabad. We didn't stand a chance of survival. However, the job offer was really good, and the prospect of me finding better job opportunities propelled our decision to make the big move. Worst case scenario - we can always relocate elsewhere after a year.
Everyone we knew told us we're making a huge mistake, and that the city would gobble us up in no time. The prices are so high that even with the two of us working, we'd never save. The city is moving at such a pace that all you do is work and have no time for fun. Everywhere you go it is so crowded that you can barely put in your foot through the door. And God forbid if you have to commute by train! And how will you make it through the monsoons?
I don't know if I believe in luck, and the fact that whatever happens, happens for the better. But, all the above mentioned things being true, we have been in Mumbai for 10 months now...almost a year, without thinking that we should relocate soon.
Before we moved bag, baggage and furniture, we moved in with relatives with just a suitcase. We had chalked out a plan of how I would go looking at apartments alone during the weekdays, and together over the weekend. We wanted an unfurnished, 2 bed-room apartment, which was met with shocked response from Mumbai-ites. "But you are just two people. What will you do with so much space?" "Two families live together in 2-bed room apartments. You should save money and look for a smaller place." Land is a precious commodity here.
We arrived early morning on a weekend and set out house hunting with a broker we met through a contact. We told him our budget, and the area we were looking at (Goregaon East since my husband's office was located there). Saw a few apartments (insisting on a 2 room flat) that were super expensive and badly maintained (I cannot even begin to describe it). Many but property here with the sole purpose of renting it out, ensuring a steady flow of income that can only increase with time. Most people are so glad to find a place to live that they ignore the cleanliness completely...it's all part of living here.
As I was beginning to feel dejected, the broker said he'll show us a new flat which is above our budget, but it would give us an idea of what is available. And that was it. Once I saw it, I refused to see any other place. I could clearly hear a 'click' when I saw it. My husband, the shopaholic that he is, wanted to see a few other places before settling on one. I said he was free to do so on his own. That is how we moved to this view:
This was so unlike the Bombay we were used to. Spacious (two bed) rooms, brand new and hence clean, great view, no view of the slums (at least on our side of the building). We both wanted a place we would enjoy living in...we didn't want to 'survive' but 'live' here, even if it was only for a year. It feels great to wake up to the hills in the morning. The apartment is well-ventilated and gets good breeze all day so much so that my husband thought we could survive the summer without an AC. We couldn't.
The rains have transformed the hills into a beautiful lush green meadow. It is great to watch the rains pour down while I sip hot coffee in the balcony. We even have a baby waterfall. The builders keep blasting rocks off at regular intervals to make room for more construction...I hope it takes as long as possible for them to complete.
As for expenses, yes, they are high, but then we were paying the same in Hyderabad where we would only shop at premium stores for convenience (who want to haggle after a hard day's work?). The commute is not too bad since my husband's office is about 5kms away and he doesn't need to use the train. I got a great opportunity where I can work from home. We are in the middle of the rainy seasons and nothing tragic has happened so far...but it's a pain to walk the dog while it's pouring.
One of the best things about Bombay is that you can easily get away for the weekend...we have done that just twice so far, but more trips are in the offing. We haven't really had the time to explore the city since we only get the weekends to do so. After the grocery shopping, and the traffic, there is not much time or inclination left to go explore. But it is on our To Do list.
I guess we're staying here for another year!