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Mumbai, India : a cosmopolitan city of colour and contradictions

In January 2020 our Founder & CEO, Rachel Kidwell, attended the Luxury Property Conference in Mumbai India. This brought with it the opportunity to meet with property developers and stakeholders involved in the complex process of delivering property. What evolved through the experience reflected the ‘melting pot’ of what it means to live in Mumbai.

To kick the week off, we discovered the conference was more focussed on emigration opportunities more so than property development! But, we live and learn as we then took a slightly different approach to our exploration activities whilst in Mumbai.

We rescheduled our activities and undertook to visit a variety of sites to explore the meaning of ‘retail’ in Mumbai. From the street markets of Colaba Causeway to the shiny Phoenix Mall the parallel universes these retail precincts work in represented the dichotomy of what it means to live in such a cosmopolitan city with such a rich history. The food markets like the one above were colourful, run by the farmers who bring the goods to market. This combined with the fruit and nut sellers and the sugar cane juice stalls create a vibrant local community eating freely from the street sellers who have a deep understanding of the communities in which they sell their wares.

The overwhelming sales ‘push’ experienced in the markets was the expected experience however it was also surprising given the sheer volume of people, mostly locals, who we saw spending their hard earned Rupees. It was here we picked up the necessary souvenirs and, after some bartering, wondered how they make a living selling such items for so little money.

Jewellery Shopping in Calaba Causeway

The comparison of the Colaba Causeway and Crawford Market to the very western influenced Phoenix Mall where brands like Guess, Zara and H&M were found represented the vast difference in the haves and the have-nots in Mumbai. The familiarity of the brands at the Phoenix Mall didn’t hold any particular relevance to the City we were in, outside of the beautiful artwork representing the history of Mumbai. One item in particular, ‘Spirit of Bombay’ by Valay Shende explains:

Mumbai is often referred to as the ‘melting pot’ of India, where people travel together regardless of job and social status. The Mumbai local trains are a well-recognised face of the city’s identity, where thousands of people travel in a space meant for hundreds.

Valay Shende
Spirit of Bombay installation, Phoenix Mall, Mumbai

We still have so much more to learn from this country. However what I am sure of is that they are moving into an evolution of continued western influences by virtue of improved process and due diligence exercises. Whilst it is difficult to compare this environment to that of Australia given the Australian property market is so mature, what we do know is that the rate of adoption of technology is ahead of the global average.

76 per cent of Indians say that they are willing to try new technologies and ways of working in order to be more efficient or productive …

We finished our short exploration trip with a visit to the Maker Maxity development in Bandra. After a hair raising Uber ride, it was here we experienced a highly western influenced development with an array of corporate tenants such as Apple, Google and Mattel Toys. Apple will also be opening their first retail store in India within the Maker Maxity Mall looking to open in September 2020.

The impressive Maker Maxity development is a place where the exterior of the buildings matched the interior and art installations told the story of the City we were in. In particular, the ‘Flying Bus’ installation by Sudarshan Shetty represents ‘the city of Mumbai and its endless cycle of endings and beginnings’. As the double decker buses were phased out, Shetty aims to represent the shift away from its original purpose to echo the confusion of location experienced in Mumbai.

” … (the) constant energetic flux reverberates through every action and decision made within the city and is the basis for every advance, every loss, and in turn, every new step forward …”

Sudarshan Shetty
Sudarshan Shetty’s ‘Flying Bus’ | 2012

In our short experience of Mumbai, we felt this art installation embodied all the feels about this contradictory City. The flying bus “symbolic of Mumbai’s duality: the energy of the city to propel you, matched only by the struggles involved in doing so”.

Gateway of India, Apollo Bunder, Mumbai

We will return to Mumbai in some capacity to continue to explore the beauty of both its challenges and opportunities for what TCPinpoint is bringing to the global real estate market.