About Matunga, Mumbai/Bombay and India....

Relating each place to the other, Matunga is a 'taluka' (administrative zone) within Mumbai.  Mumbai is the first capital of the state of Maharashtra (the second being Nagpur), and the financial capital of India.

Matunga is also called mini-Madras by some (Matungam!), a reference to the large number of South Indians who used to live there, and Madras, the largest city of South India.  It's been my home since my birth.  In fact, we have lived in the same house for nearly sixty years!  It is a quiet, peaceful locality, and very convenient to live in.  There are a number of temples, a huge market and a number of educational institutions.  It is connected to the rest of the city (!) by two railway stations (Matunga on the Central Railway, and King's Circle on the harbour line), and many bus routes.

Some of the best schools in Mumbai are in Matunga, including (ahem!) the SIES High School, the IES school system, Don Bosco, the Ruia and Podar Colleges (for Science, Commerce and Arts), and the VJTI (the prime engineering college of the University of Mumbai).  A little farther away are the LTMG and KEM Medical Colleges, at the Sion and KEM hospitals.  I am not listing all the places, just the more prominent ones.

At a five minute walk from my house is a collection of three temples and a mosque, and there are some churches a longer distance away.  The Shanmukhananda Hall (once a premier cultural center, until destroyed by fire, and now rebuilt) is nearby, as are a number of public halls and community clubs.  There are quite a few grounds (gymkhanas), where cricket, tennis, basketball etc. can be pursued (though I only tried basketball, and left after three months!).

A number of shops and vendors selling everything from vegetables to clothes and jewellery are (again!) a five minute walk from my house.  Though, come to think of it, I haven't seen a butcher's shop!  Must be because of the temples and largely vegetarian population.

Am I missing out anything that is necessary for life?  The transport system connects Matunga to the commercial areas of Mumbai.  And at the end (literally), there is a cemetry nearby - you guessed it, a five minute walk from my house.  OK, maybe ten!

About Mumbai - what can I say!  It is the most densely populated city of India, with over eighteen million people (2001 census), second only to Tokyo.  And more pouring in everyday - it is the dream city for most folks, where most people would go to find a job, any job.  It is also an island, which makes expansion difficult.  It is very linear, in the North-South direction (an old joke goes - why does a Bombay dog wave its tail in the vertical plane only?  Because there's no space sideways!).  Most residential complexes are in North Mumbai, where space is available and rents are relatively cheaper.  And most offices are in South Bombay.  Here's a neat page about Mumbai/Bombay.

One of the best things about Bombay (pardon me for not using Mumbai - I am more used to Bombay!) is its public transport system.  This consists of rail and bus connections.  The main railways are the Central and Western railways.  The harbour route connects the two - you could think of an 'H'  or 'N' shape.  The two main lines come closest at Dadar (just south of Matunga).  Trains run almost all the 24 hours.  At peak times, each train (with a capacity of 1500 passengers) is often crowded to thrice it's capacity!  This is why, often, non-Mumbaikars claim proudly (once they have been to Mumbai and travelled by train) that they can get in and get out of trains.  It can get very chaotic - and this is no exaggeration.  People hanging out of the trains, on top of the compartments, between compartments.  Add a number of hutments very close (less than 10 feet!) to the tracks, and you have a sure-fire recipe for disaster.  It's a miracle that the system still works, but it does.  Though there are some casualties everyday....  Since the city is very linear, at peak times, the traffic is all in the North-South direction in the morning, and reverse in the evening.  So plan your trips accordingly!  As for the buses, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST!) undertaking connects all parts of the city.  It also supplies electricity to the southern half of Mumbai.  It is reasonably cheap, though not as much as the train service.  The two systems can be used to complement each other - to get from point A to point B, use the bus to reach the train nearest to A, travel by train as near to B as possible, and then again use a bus to reach B from the station.  Though sometimes, it may be more convenient to use only the buses.  Apart from these two government-controlled systems, there are a number of private taxis and auto-rickshaws.  All in all, the city and its suburbs are very well connected.


I guess I can go on and on about Mumbai, and might do it sometime!  For now, all I will say is - it is a great city.  And in case you thought I had forgotten about India - I haven't!  Will do it when I get the time :)

Other Mumbai links:
The Municipality
The international airport
Mumbai Police
Lonely Planet
Mumbai Yellow Pages
The Phone Company - MTNL (Mera Telephone Nahin Lagta - My Telephone Doesn't Work!) (Phone directory online)
The Stock Exchange - Mumbai is the financial capital of India
The US Consulate (really!)
Independent Media Center
Maharashtrian food recipes!
Mumbai weather according to CNN (!)
The Colaba Met office (official GoI weather folks)
Prabhadevi Siddhi Vinayak Temple
Mid-Day online - a local tabloid

Last update: December 7, 2005

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R Subramanian, 2003 subra REMOVE @randomsubu REMOVE .com