Mumbai

ABOUT THE CITY

Mumbai is a teeming metropolis, commercial hub of an old civilization seeking to find its place in the New World Order.  The setting of the 2009 Oscar winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”, a city where nearly thirteen million people live. You will meet people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, speaking over a dozen tongues adding color, flavor and texture to the Great Mumbai Melting Pot.  Indians have more than a hundred ways of cooking meat; and nearly twice as many ways of preparing a single vegetable. It would probably take a lifetime to sample all the delicacies on offer. Be sure to take in the Baisakhi Festival, the arrival of the harvesting season, in the months of April and May. There is a sense of plenty immediately after the harvest and the weather is mild. It is at this time that many regions celebrate their New Year. Celebrated with great zest and revelry, it marks the harvest of the Rabi crop.

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    About Mumbai

    Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the capital of the state of Maharashtra, the most populous city of India, and by some measures the most populous city in the world with an estimated population of about 13 million (as of 2006).  The metro population is expected to be ranked 4th in the world by 2015 due to an annual growth rate of 2.2%.

    Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment capital of India , and houses important financial institutions, such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) and the corporate headquarters of many Indian companies.

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    History

    In 1534, the Portuguese appropriated the islands from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. They were ceded to Charles II of England in 1661, as dowry for Catherine de Braganza. These islands, were in turn leased to the British East India Company in 1668 for a sum of £10 per annum. The company found the deep harbor on the east coast of the islands to be ideal for setting up their first port in the sub-continent. The population quickly rose from 10,000 in 1661, to 60,000 in 1675; in 1687, the British East India Company transferred its headquarters from Surat to Bombay. The city eventually became the headquarters of the Bombay Presidency.

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    Fast Facts

    Area  437.71 km²

    Elevation – 8 m

    Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

    Codes

    – Postal  400 xxx

    – Telephone   – +022

    – Vehicle   MH-01-03

    Language   Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati and English.

    Economy

    A number of Indian financial institutions have headquarters in downtown Mumbai, including the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Reserve Bank of India, the National Stock Exchange of India, the Mint, and numerous conglomerates (the Tata Group, Godrej and Reliance. Many foreign banks and financial institutions also have branches in this area.

    Up until the 1980s, Mumbai owed its prosperity largely to textile mills and the seaport, but the local economy has since been diversified to include engineering, diamond-polishing, healthcare and information technology. Mumbai’s status as the state capital means that state and federal government employees make up a large percentage of the city’s workforce. Mumbai also has a large unskilled and semi-skilled labor population, who primarily earn their livelihood as hawkers, taxi drivers, mechanics and other such blue collar professions. The port and shipping industry too employs many residents, directly or indirectly.

    The entertainment industry is the other major employer in Mumbai. Most of India’s major television and satellite networks are headquartered in Mumbai, as well as its major publishing houses. The centre of the Hindi movie industry, Bollywood, is also located in Mumbai, along with its largest studios and movie production houses. Marathi television and film industries are also based in Mumbai.

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    Climate

    The climate of the city, being in the tropical zone, and near the Arabian Sea, may be broadly classified into two main seasons – the humid season, and the dry season. The humid season, between March and October, is characterized by high humidity and temperatures of over 30 °C (86 °F). The monsoon rains lash the city between June to September, and supply most of the city’s annual rainfall of 2,200 mm (85 inches).  The dry season, between November and February, is characterized by moderate levels of humidity and warm to cool weather. Cold northerly winds are responsible for a mild chill during January and February.

    Month Avg Hi Avg Lo Avg Precip
    Jan 85°F 66°F 0.00 in.
    Feb 85°F 68°F 0.00 in.
    Mar 88°F 72°F 0.00 in.
    Apr 90°F 77°F 0.08 in.
    May 92°F 80°F 0.47 in.
    Jun 89°F 79°F 23.30 in.
    Jul 86°F 77°F 26.80 in.
    Aug 85°F 76°F 19.20 in.
    Sep 86°F 76°F 12.10 in.
    Oct 90°F 76°F 2.40 in.
    Nov 91°F 73°F 0.90 in.
    Dec 88°F 69°F 0.07 in.

    By Car

    Driving here is an awful proposition, so if you can find another way to get around, do that.  If you’re going to drive, you should first pick up the Eicher Mumbai City Map, which is available at most bookstores.  It’s the best map of the city there is, and is invaluable if you’re trying to navigate Mumbai.

    Roads here are in better condition that most of India.  Remember that all manner of vehicles, animals, and other obstacles share the roadways. The unwritten rule of traffic is that smaller yields to bigger. Thus, vehicles have right-of-way over pedestrians, and bigger vehicles have right-of-way over smaller ones. However, another unwritten rule is that the one who has the most to lose will yield. The safest way to traverse a typical congested Indian road is to drive very carefully.  Cows, which are sacred to Hindus, always have the right of way.

    Public Transportation

    Train
    Most of Mumbai’s inhabitants rely on public transport to travel to and from their workplace due to the lack of car parking spaces, traffic bottlenecks, and generally poor road conditions especially in the monsoon. The city is the headquarters of two rail divisions – the Central Railway (CR) headquartered at Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly known as Victoria Terminus), and the Western Railway (WR) headquartered near Churchgate. The backbone of the city’s transport, the Mumbai Suburban Railway, is composed of three separate networks running the length of the city, in a north-south direction. The Western Railway runs along the western region of the city, while the Central Railway covers most of the central and northeast parts of the metropolis.

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    Air Transportation

    Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport
    www.csia.in

    Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport (formerly, Sahar International Airport) is the busiest airport in India, and caters to cargo and international flights.  The airport is 28 km northeast of downtown.  If you’re taking a taxi, it’s a good idea to get a prepaid coupon to avoid haggling over fare.

    Local Phone Numbers

    Telephone service is adequate to excellent in the cities, but may not be as reliable in rural areas. Service has expanded and improved in recent years, but heavy workloads for technicians may cause delays in repairs and installations. During the rainy season, landline service to remote areas often is interrupted. Mobile cellular service is also provided in the major cities.

    011 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of U.S.A., when placing the call in the US.
    001 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of India when placing the call in India.
    91 is the international code used to dial to India.
    22 is the local area or city code used to dial to Mumbai

    Emergency lines
    Police : 100
    Fire: 101
    Ambulance: 102
    Cardiac arrest: 105

    Internet
    In the burgeoning high-tech sector, more than 100 private Internet service providers (ISPs) licensed by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) operate in national, regional, and secondary markets.  It is easy to connect to an ISP using dial-up and broadband ADSL Internet connections in urban centers. Pre-paid and post-paid plans – billed hourly – or flat usage plans, are available. ISPs provide service at competitive rates and generally resolve problems quickly.

    Compulsory Education

    Schools in Mumbai are either “municipal schools” (run by the BMC) or private schools (run by trusts and individuals) which are usually aided by the government. A majority of residents prefer private schools because of better infrastructure and the use of English as a medium of instruction. All private schools are affiliated either to the Maharashtra State SSC board, or the all-India Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) boards.

    Central Board for Secondary Education
    www.cbse.nic.in

    Indian Council of Secondary Education
    www.cisce.org

    Higher Education

    Indian Institute of Technology
    Bombay Powai
    Mumbai – 400076
    +91-22-2572-2545
    www.iitb.ac.in
    IIT Bombay, set up by an Act of Parliament, was established in 1958, at Powai, a northern suburb of Mumbai. Today the Institute is recognized as one of the centers of academic excellence in the country. Over the years, there has been dynamic progress at IIT Bombay in all academic and research activities, and a parallel improvement in facilities and infrastructure, to keep it on par with the best institutions in the world.

    University of Mumbai
    www.mu.ac.in
    The University of Mumbai (known earlier as University of Bombay) is one of the oldest and premier Universities in India. It was established in 1857 consequent upon “Wood’s Education Dispatch”, and it is one amongst the first three Universities in India.

    It is now granted a Five Star status by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). It has two campuses of area 230 acres and 13 acres, with 1.25 million square feet of built-up area, 22 thousand sq. feet of class-rooms and 84 thousand sq feet of laboratory space. It has two post-graduate centers, 354 affiliated colleges and 36 Departments. It has established its name in industrial collaborations and runs various professional courses.

    Museums

    National Gallery of Modern Art
    MG Road, Kala Ghoda
    Mumbai, MH 400 001
    +91 22 2285 2457
    This place was also once a concert venue, but now is one of India’s premier galleries. It has an extraordinary permanent collection, but is also a generous patron of emerging and contemporary art. NGMA plays host to not only the best in Indian art but also from the world over.

    Nehru Planetarium
    Nenru Centre
    Mumbai, MH 400018
    +91 22 2496 4676
    This is the city’s premier science institution. But other than just being a planetarium, the centre is also home to lectures on scientific and social science subjects, art exhibitions, music and drama performances.

    Nehru Science Centre
    Dr E Moses Road
    Mumbai, MH 400 018
    +91 22 2493 2667
    The centre offers interactive exhibits that help children decipher and understand the mysteries of science. There is also an outdoor science park that gives kids a chance to understand science through games.

    Chhtrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghalaya
    159-161, MG Road,
    Fort Mumbai, MH 400 023
    +91 22 2284 4484
    crescent@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in
    This museum was formerly known as The Prince of Wales Museum. Situated between the historic areas of Colaba and Fort, this museum was built in 1905 to commemorate the first visit of King George V to India. However, it was opened to the public only after 20 years. Built by George Willet, it stands proud in midst of a beautiful lush garden. The extensive collection includes rare pieces from Elephanta and the Indus Valley, amongst others.

    Attractions

    Elephanta Caves
    Mumbai, MH 400
    +91 22 2202 6364
    The continuous tradition of Buddhist rockcut dwellings and ‘Chaityas’ find their prime example in the magnificent rock cut caves of Elephanta. It was between 533-566 AD that these splendid caves were carved from the rock face. These temples lie nine kilometers northeast from Apollo Bunder. They are Mumbai’s most famous tourist attraction apart from the famed nightlife. Elephanta Islands, in earlier days was called Gharapuri-the fortress city.

    Esselworld
    Malad-Marve Road,
    Mumbai, MH 400 092
    +91 22 2869 9957
    This theme park is located near the Gorai Beach. The city’s favorite amusement park, it is filled with exciting rides and games. There is a separate mammoth section called the ‘Water Kingdom’, a haven for all those with a penchant for H2O.

    Gateway of India
    Colaba Mumbai, MH 400 001
    www.esselworld.com
    The Gateway of India – an Imperial landmark that still symbolizes Mumbai as much as Statue O f Liberty stands for New York. The yellow basalt arch of triumph was erected by the Britishers in 1924 and still evokes fond memories. An obligatory “photo op” at the wonderfully named Apollo Bunder, will remind you eternally of your visit while colorful balloon sellers, postcard vendors and snake charmers transport you into another great Indian experience.

    Film City
    Malad (E)-Goregaon
    Mumbai, MH 400 063 India
    Mumbai is the hub of the Indian film industry. And most of the films are made in Film City.

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    Sports

    Cricket is the most popular sport in the city, and is usually played in the maidans (grounds) around the city. Gully cricket, a modified form of cricket, is played in the narrow by-lanes of the city, especially on Sundays. Mumbai has produced several famous international cricketers, and is home to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). International cricket is widely watched, and the city almost comes to a virtual standstill on days when the Indian cricket team plays important matches. The city has two international cricket stadiums, the Wankhede Stadium and the Brabourne Stadium. The local Mumbai cricket team is among the strongest competitors in the Ranji Trophy, the nation’s top domestic cricketing circuit.

    Soccer is the second most popular sport with the city clubs playing during the monsoons, when other outdoor sports cannot be played. The Football World Cup is one of the most widely watched television events in Mumbai. India’s national sport, field hockey, has gone into a sharp decline in the recent years, losing out in terms of popularity to cricket, though many Mumbai players play in the national team.

    Other sports are mostly played in the numerous clubs and gymkhanas, and include tennis, squash, billiards, badminton, table tennis and golf. Mumbai also plays Rugby, one of the few cities to do so in the country. Every February, Mumbai holds the Derby races in the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. The event sees many of the city’s glitterati attending, arrayed in the latest fashions. In recent times Formula 1 racing has also caught the public’s attention. Other sports such as volleyball and basketball are mostly popular in schools and colleges

    Golf
    US Club
    Rober Road, Near RC Church
    Mumbai, MH 400 005 India
    +91 22 2215 2109
    It is one of the most picturesque golf courses in the city, with a full 18-hole championship course. The game gets very challenging as the course is close to the sea, which brings the changing wind factor into play.

    Currency & Banking

    1 USD equals about Rs. 43.8600

    The unit of the Indian currency is the Rupee.  The origin of the word “rupee” is found in a Sanskrit word which means “silver” in many Indo-Aryan languages such as Urdu.  The unit of currency is divided into 100 PAISE. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 & 1000 Rupees. Coins are issued in denominations of 10, 20, 25 and 50 Paise. There are also coins with denominations of 1, 2 and 5 Rupees.

    The usual banking hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays. Besides the Indian banks, several international banks including Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation operate in major metros. Most have 24-hour ATMs. Money transfers through these banks are also easy.

    Business Hours

    Banks, Office and most shopping areas remains closed on Sunday. Sometimes within the same city different markets close on different weekdays, it may be wise to check from the Hotel before you set out. Shops usually remain open 9.30 am to 7.00 pm (small tourist shops may close much later) and offices from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. Many offices observe Saturdays as holidays the Indian calendar is full of festivals and religious holidays. Should one happen to be in India on any such day it is advisable to participate in the festivities, possibly with the help of a guide.

    Embassies & Visas

    Embassy of India
    2107 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
    Washington D.C. 20008
    (202) 939-7000

    Visa
    www.indianembassy.org
    U.S. citizens require a passport and visa to enter and exit India for any purpose. Visitors must obtain visas at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the country as there are no provisions for visas upon arrival. Those arriving without a visa are subject to immediate deportation. Each visitor should carry photocopies of the face page of the traveler’s U.S. passport and the page which contains the Indian visa in order to facilitate obtaining new passports from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and exit visas from the Indian government, in the event of theft or loss of the passport.  For the most current information on entry and exit requirements for United States citizens, visit the website listed above.

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    Dining

    The cuisine of India is extremely diverse, as ingredients, spices and cooking methods vary from region to region. Rice and wheat are the nation’s main staple foods. The country is notable for its wide variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine. Spicy food and sweets are popular in India.

    Indian cuisine differs from region to region .There is Mughlai food, Tandoor (bar-be-que in clay Oven), South Indian food. For people in the north wheat is the staple, while it is rice in south India. The waiters can be told to make it less spicy.

    There are some Indians who are vegetarians. Hindus do not eat beef considering cow as sacred. Muslims do not eat pork. There are some vegetarians who do not eat egg, onions, garlic etc.

    The trend towards dining out has increased and many restaurants serve Continental, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, and French. Mexican, Italian, Lebanese, Mediterranean, and other cuisine. American fast food is very popular and outlets are present in most cities and towns.

    Tipping is optional but a common practice in India. The usual option involves leaving a 10% tip for the services provided.

    Etiquette

    Dress
    Men are generally expected to wear a suit and tie for business, although the jacket may be removed in the summer. Women should wear conservative dresses or pantsuits.

    When dressing casual, short-sleeved shirts and long pants are preferred for men; shorts are acceptable only when exercising. Women must keep their upper arms, chest, back, and legs covered at all times.

    Women should wear long pants when exercising.

    The use of leather products including belts or handbags may be considered offensive, especially in temples. Hindus revere cows and do not use leather products.

    Behavior
    The head is considered the seat of the soul. Never touch someone else’s head, not even to pat the hair of a child.

    Beckoning someone with the palm up and wagging one finger can be construed as in insult. Standing with your hands on your hips will be interpreted as an angry, aggressive posture.

    Whistling is impolite and winking may be interpreted as either an insult or a sexual proposition.

    Never point your feet at a person. Feet are considered unclean. If your shoes or feet touch another person, apologize.

    Indians value punctuality in others but sometimes there could be delays in meetings and events. It is useful to reconfirm meetings.

    Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver. If you receive a wrapped gift, set it aside until the giver leaves.

    Business lunches are preferred to dinners. Hindus do not eat beef and Muslims do not eat pork.

    Communications
    There are more than fourteen major and three hundred minor languages spoken in India. The official languages are English and Hindi. English is widely used in business, politics and education.

    Indians greet each other (and say good-bye) with the ‘Namaste’, which is formed by pressing the palms together (fingers up) below the chin and nodding the head. When greeting superiors or to show respect, a slight bow is added. When meeting foreigners, Indian men will shake hands.

    The word “no” has harsh implications in India. Evasive refusals are more common, and are considered more polite. Never directly refuse an invitation, a vague “I’ll try” is an acceptable refusal.

    Do not thank your hosts at the end of a meal. “Thank you” is considered a form of payment and therefore insulting.

    Titles are very important. Always use professional titles.

    Healthcare

    Adequate to excellent private health care is available in Delhi and other major cities. Those who can afford to pay have access to well-equipped, modern facilities and highly-trained staff. In the more rural parts of the country, medical care is limited. Private health care is widely available and used by expatriates. However, visitors should consider returning home for conditions requiring highly specialized or lengthy treatment.

    U.S. medical insurance policies are not always valid in India. Before departure, check whether you will need supplemental health insurance that specifically covers overseas treatment and keep copies of your policy documents with you. There is no government health insurance in India for which long-term residents are eligible. It is recommended that you have health insurance coverage that covers treatment and health emergencies, including medical evacuation.

    Your company should be able to provide you with information on health insurance available to you and your family. Discuss these coverage details with your company before departure.

    Public sanitation and health guidelines
    Public sanitation in India is problematic. There are open sewers, insects abound, tap water is considered unsafe for drinking, fresh produce is sometimes contaminated, and there are no food-handling regulations for restaurants.

    Only the best hotels and restaurants have western-style toilets and toilet paper. Many others have simple basins on the floor and bowls of water. Carry tissues when traveling outside the large cities.

    For specific instruction on minimizing health risks in your area of India, contact your embassy or consulate or local expatriate organization.

    General precautions
    All drinking water should be boiled for at least 15 minutes, then cooled and filtered. Ice cubes should be made from this water. Most expatriates have bottled or mineral water delivered to their homes for most kitchen uses.

    Dairy products are unsafe. Milk should be boiled for five minutes.

    Be careful of pork products because pigs feed in unsanitary places. Be cautious of freshwater fish because of water pollution; cook with water buffalo, mutton, chicken, and saltwater fish.

    All meats should be well-cooked to avoid tapeworm, trichinosis, and other diseases.

    Eat only raw fruits that you can peel, and only raw vegetables thoroughly cleaned and soaked in a chlorine solution of water that has first been boiled and then cooled.

    Mail

    Postal Service
    www.indiapost.org/

    The Indian Postal Service provides high quality services for delivery of mail, parcels, and related services. India has the largest postal network in the world. It also caters to specific mailing needs through Speed Post, Express Post, Satellite Mail, Gift Services etc. Delivery of mail takes between two to five days, depending on the final destination.

    Time Zone & Electricity

    Time Zone
    The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in Delhi and New York City at 12:00 UTC when daylight saving time is not in effect:

    Delhi Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC + 5:30 hour = 5:30 am
    NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 05:00 hour = 7:00 pm, prior day

    India does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

    Electricity
    In India, electricity runs 220/240 volts. If you do bring electrical appliances, take along an international converter kit complete with a set of adapter plugs.

    Taxes

    Internal Revenue Service
    P.O. Box 920
    Bensalem, PA 19020
    (215) 516-2000 (not toll-free)

    Phone service available from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm (EST) M-F

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office serving India is located in Philadelphia, and provides U.S. Federal tax assistance to Americans in India.

    The IRS Home Page, www.irs.gov, has a lot of information available to answer many questions. Go to ‘Individuals’ and then ‘Overseas Taxpayers’ you will find a section of FAQ, which will take you to IRS Publication 54. Many questions of overseas taxpayers can be answered from that source.

    US citizens’ income tax liabilities are based on worldwide income, so you’re still responsible to pay the IRS on income earned in India or other countries.  You do get an $80,000 dollar exemption on money you earn overseas, so the tax burden will be significantly lower.  In some countries, you can get foreign tax credits, but that’s only useful if the country you’re in has a higher tax rate than the US.

    Utilities

    The water supply in Delhi is managed by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). With falling groundwater level and rising population density, Delhi faces severely acute water shortage. Delhi daily produces 8000 tons of solid wastes which is dumped at three landfill sites by MCD. The daily domestic waste water production is 470 MGD and industrial waste water is 70 MGD.

    The city’s per capita electricity consumption is about 1,265 kWh but actual demand is much more.  In 1997, Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) replaced Delhi Electric Supply Undertaking which was managed by the MCD. The DVB itself cannot generate adequate power to meet the city’s demand and borrows power from India’s Northern Region Grid. As a result, Delhi faces a power shortage resulting in frequent blackouts and brownouts, especially during the summer season when energy demand is at its peak. Several industrial units in Delhi rely on private electrical generators to meet their electric demand.

    State-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) and private enterprises like Hutch, Airtel, Idea cellular, Reliance Infocomm and Tata Indicom provide telephone and cell phone service to the city. Cellular coverage is extensive, and both GSM and CDMA services are available. Broadband internet penetration is increasing in the city.