I thought that the politically correct name for the city was Mumbai, but many successful, well educated natives actually still prefer it’s original name, Bombay. This city of 18 million is almost beyond comprehension. Home to both Bollywood, India’s hugely successful movie industry and the world’s largest squatter village of one million people, Bombay is all the contradictions and extremes of India on steroids. Beautiful colonial architecture stands above sidewalks filled with crudely built shacks that house families that effectively are eating, bathing and sleeping on the street in plain view. I was told that almost half the city lives in these structures. I have no idea if it’s true, but where ever you go in this city the poverty is inescapable.
Several hundred yards from the Taj Mahal Hotel, regarded as one of the best in the world, was a sprawling village of tents and corrugated metal structures that housed an untold number of people. At night, to stay cool, people slept scattered about on the ground, one even on the hood of a stray car. The poverty is truly staggering.
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