• Mumbai – A Marathon City

With nearly twice the population of London, and millions more entering the city everyday to work, Mumbai felt chaotic. The roads of 2 or 3 lanes see 5 or 6 cars vying for space with scooters and motorbikes filling any gaps that remain.

The hustle and bustle is full on, but as Luke (Rigg) mentioned in his blog from Mumbai, once you establish a connection with the local people, you get an insight into how they live day to day in a system which feels very different to one you’re used to.

We were in Mumbai at the same time as their marathon. 104-year-old runner Fauja Singh had travelled back to India from the UK to run the race and he received a hero’s welcome with billboards of him lining the waterfront. The race started early, like 6am early, and by the time I made it out, the race course had become a series of stages set up about 100m apart, each sponsored by local charities or initiatives. Music was played on each stage and large groups – mostly supporting educational, medical and social charities – would run from one stage to the next, stopping for a song – dancing, singing, sometimes tumbling or tricking.

Everyone I spoke to loved the marathon, the city was buzzing. It was also an opportunity for Mumbaikar’s and others to run for causes they felt passionately about, and these causes often fell in line with some of the problems we’d noticed very soon after arriving in India – housing, water quality, access to education and healthcare for all, etc.

During the marathon a young guy approached me. He wanted to know a bit more about me – where I was from, what I was doing in Mumbai. He invited me for tea and we sat and chatted for an hour or so. Like many people we’ve met, Viveikk’s English was brilliant, and also like many people we’ve met, his hospitality was equally as impressive. He was interested in the UK and wanted to know about what life was like there. It was also chance for me to get some answers to questions that had been buzzing around my head for the first few days here. He gave me a crash course in Hindi to help me on my way and we commented on how small the world is becoming before saying goodbye and heading our separate ways.

The issues around inequality are explicit here. Like the many places around the world sitting on the fault line of the 1st and 3rd worlds, you’d like to see more being done on the issue from big businesses and governments – especially with the level of investment in countries such as India right now. Though while we wait and push for the powers that be to take more action on these issues, I think it’s also important not to lose sight of the positive differences in societies and I feel very lucky to have been offered an insight into such a warm and deeply embedded culture, rich in tradition.

 

By Chris Knight,

Dancer, 2Faced Dance

 

 

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My new friend, Viveikk

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Mumbai – A Marathon City