> Travels

« Back to Travels

People Power in Mumbai

People Power in Mumbai


The summer of 2009 featured a visit to Mumbai, India. This photo was taken while we were shuttled through the chaos of morning traffic. Featured is one of the ubiquitous tuk tuks that speed along as the most common form of hired transport. In every way, Mumbai is a testament to people power. While technology is encountered everywhere in this sprawling center of commerce, it is the people that stand out and in particular their entrepeneurial industriousness. I came away from this short business trip with the observation that everyone in India seems to be an enterpreneur. It goes without saying that I took this to be a very good thing. The edges of the shanty towns that we encountered provided a graphic illustration as every inch of visible wall was used either for advertizing or for a stall from which business can be transacted.

A couple of memories stand out. One was of an Indian lady, dressed in a beautifully colourful sari, speeding through traffic on a pretty good motorbike. Another was of a high tech washroom in an office building where staff were on hand to tell you which pieces of gadgetry were working and which were not. Yet another was a scene of collective action, as a human chain of young men were moving building materials down a hill in an apparent effort to rebuild homes damaged in the heavy weather of the previous week.

The strongest impression however, and not unexpectedly, was my first impression which came as I stepped out of Mumbai airport. At first glance, the view was overwhelming - literally hundreds of drivers with signs stood along the gates. My first thought was how would we ever find our driver. My fears were instantly erased when airport staff appeared and directed us to our driver. There were people available to help you to find the people who were there to help you.

People power in action.