Mumbai WHYSer reporting for duty..It's been almost two decades since I was last in this city, and although I was aware that things had changed, I was unprepared for just how much change.
I arrived in this vibrant, friendly city early Sunday morning. Aside from the thick smog and the inevitable throng of waiting taxi drivers only too eager to help you on your journey, the one thing that struck me when I came out of the airport was the rush. Car horns, stall sellers, people just hanging out, the noise was deafening, and it was almost two in the morning!
Coming out here a few days early gives me a chance to source some of the big talking points in town. With it's vast mix of people that come to the city from all over India, Mumbai could be described as a cultural melting pot, a bit like London. But moving out here to make a better life for yourself doesn't come without its risks, and recently Bollywood actress turned politician, Hema Malini, caused uproar when she said migrants who complained about the high cost of living here should go back to their villages.
But is it really any different for economic migrants settling in any major city?
Over coffee and the most indulgent chocolate cake with some of the women who'll be taking part in the Mumbai leg of the programme, the issue of changing Indian cultural values came up. As we sat like many twentysomethings in Out of the Blue, I asked them if they thought parents attitudes about their children's cultural values had changed, as it's one of the topics a few audience members have said they would like to talk about.
Rashi said that less than ten years ago, drinking, smoking and dating amongst Mumbai's young elite was very much an underground thing. Parents forbade it, Children rebelled. Today, things are very different, she said. Once hidden practices, although common place in the west, are now very much in the open and accepted. But much to the dismay of parents. They're not happy, but their hands are tied. If society is beginning to accept it as the norm, who are they to object?
So, has it changed for the better? I get the impression that many parents are desperate to turn back the clock, to a time when their children's lives and their own traditional values were uncomplicated by a much more open society..Are you one of them?
Well, I'm off to our venue in Colaba in a while, hope to have a few more interesting chats with our audience over chai and a little something sweet..