Discovering Mumbai

Mumbai is a living, breathing organism. The abundant people, cattle, bikes, rickshaws, taxis, and cars all move so quickly and so close to each other as if guided by sheer instinct. It appears chaotic at first glance, but after three days of travelling throughout the city, it feels more like the intricate workings of a complex machine.

Mumbai is also a city of stark contrasts: slum dwellings embedded in high city skylines, nestled between Louis Vuitton, Nike, Diesel and other mid-to-high end shops. Beautiful colonial buildings look weathered and worn beyond their years and are covered in local bamboo scaffolding that would frighten most engineers. In an 18 million-person city (55% of which are living in slums) with a hustle and bustle that would raise anyone’s blood pressure, you will arguably find some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.

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Part of the Mumbai skyline behind a fishing slum community.

Today marked our first official day of our Consulting Abroad Practicum.  We spent the day touring the city and learning about its roots.  Mumbai (also called Bombay) was originally an archipelago of 7 islands, which were brought together through building bridges and blocking water sources. It is now the richest and most populous city in all of India, accounting for 5% of India’s GDP.

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The India CAP team!

We explored the many contrasts of Mumbai today.  We visited a beautiful, well-manicured garden with a view of the city.  We witnessed the remarkable workings of Dhobi Ghat, a laundry business in the largest slum in all of Asia. We passed the house of the fourth richest man in the world–a 27 story building for a 5-person family and discussed the recent strike against a recent retailer tax.  We visited the Taj Hotel and learned about the 2008 terrorist attack that killed 100 people, and walked through Mahatma Ghandi’s Mumbai home and read about his quest for peace.  And most importantly: we ate a lot of Indian food.

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Dhobi Ghat, where laundry from all over the city is washed and dried in the sun.

This CAP trip is most assuredly going to prove itself challenging, humbling, and inspiring.  Tomorrow, we will meet with our client, Mahindra & Mahindra for the first time in person, where we will present our analysis and recommendations.  Tomorrow is a day to get feedback and further direction from the client so we can better integrate effective solutions to their supply chain responsiveness and order fulfillment processes.

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The Gateway of India.

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