I actually hate that song by David Bowie- one of the few Bowie songs I could ever dislike. But I digress.
As I prepare to leave India (cue the “omg when did I decide this? Why am I leaving? How will I live without rickshaw s? When did I pick up this Indian accent” freak out) I’ve been reflecting on all that I’ve seen and done in the almost three years I’ve spent in this country. My friend Roisin and I, veterans among our expat friends, were recounting at lunch the other day just how much this city and this country have changed since we arrived (newly minted college graduates and oh-so naive) in the summer of 2010.
The pan-India 2G scandal began and ended, and India got 3G service as the western world moved to 4G. Blackberries, so ubiquitous when we arrived, have been quickly disappearing despite the fact that the developing world is one of RIMs last markets.
Rickshaw meters have become fully digital in Mumbai and replaced the suspension meters which required fare translation cards. We’ve seen two fare hikes and I suspect the digital meters are easier to tamper with. If fare hikes aren’t a sign of inflation, how about the fact that milk prices have risen 82% since 2010?!
Foreigners faced an imposition of a minimum-salary on their contracts with Indian firms in order to renew their work Visas. This caused some foreigners to rejoice (like me) and others to be booted back to their home countries. Tourist visas, which used to require ninety days between visits even when on a multiple-entry visa, no longer require this waiting period. This “anti-terrorism” rule was finally discarded and found pointless.
Police chief Visant Dhoble came to Bombay and shut down bars at one AM, then got shipped to Thane. Bars in Mumbai still shut too early.
We went from a riot at the canceled Metallica concert to a completely incident-free Guns N Roses show (unless you consider the incident of Axl’s horrific performance)
The government discontinued 25 paise (25 rupee cent) coins and the 50 paise coins have all but disappeared. The death of the 25 paise was so complete that on the day of discontinuation, even beggars would not accept them.
Of course I could go on a long and un-eloquent tangent about how much I have changed in that time. But mostly, I just think I’m tougher (and speak terrible English these days)
I know I am forgetting other big things that have changed in the city… Bombay friends, I’m really interested in your inputs. And I hope I’ll see y’all at my farewell, where I promise not to make you listen to too much Willie Nelson.