Mumbai: Commercial Capital of India
As you fly into Mumbai you pass over some of the most horrendous slums you will ever experience, a shantytown of enormous proportions. The story goes that the local government moved all the inhabitants out to purpose-built housing only for many of them to sell the new properties and quickly retreat back to the site and rebuild their squalid dwellings. India is another world! To locals you are arriving at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, still holding its three-letter code BOM from earlier times.
The recent opening up of the bilateral agreement between the UK and India has seen a host of new routes, improved frequencies and more airlines offering services between the two countries. The market is under served with only 53% of the passengers flying between the UK routing direct. With five airlines now operating between London and Mumbai many say that the legislators have got it correct and time will prove that this is the capacity that is required. The airlines serving the city via such places as Bahrain and Doha are taking note. Local carrier Jet Airways, now a London operator too, serves 29 destinations from BOM but its chances of picking up connecting traffic must be limited. Mumbai domestic airport is being updated from its 1950's image, rebuilding rather than a new airport but it is 4k away from the local terminal and even the OAG Flight Guide Supplement says a 20-minute transfer time via the local roads. In truth whoever supplied the information was being very optimistic. Allow for an hour at least. The infrastructure around the airport cannot cope. Limousines, electric rickshaws and beggars on the same single-track road do not mix. In truth the international terminal functions OK but it cannot be a gateway that India is proud of. There is even a scanner for scrutinizing arriving luggage. The problem is nobody looks at the screens.
Situated on the Arabian Sea in the west of India, Mumbai has one of the world's greatest natural harbors. In 1534 the Portuguese named it Bom Bahai (beautiful bay) - the derivation of the name Bombay - but in 1995 the decision was taken to rename the city in a more traditional Indian manner. It is India's largest city and commercial center. The population, thought to be 18m plus, is not that much less that the whole of Australia. There are said to be 77,000 Tata taxis on the streets. Don't go to Mumbai during the monsoon season. June, July and even August. It gets...