On loving and hating Mumbai

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/on-loving-and-hating-mumbai/article8786404.ece

There’s plenty to love about growing up in the madness of Mumbai, but lots to despise as well. I asked a few parents to share what they love and what they hate about bringing up their children in the city.

Rajesh Tahil works in the media and has three children aged 6, 11, and 15

What I love about bringing up my child in Mumbai

It’s home. They are growing up in a neighbourhood that we have lived in for decades. They are close to family, it’s great to see them grow up with aunts and uncles, and their dogs and cats (and fish).

It is a ‘big city’, so they have rich experiences, like visiting museums, music events and food festivals etc. And while these may not be of the best standards, they are certainly not dissimilar to what one would experience in any other ‘big city’.

What I hate about bringing up my child in Mumbai

The lack of open spaces, lack of clean air, too much noise. People generally drive like idiots, a basic lack of civic sense. And because of that, almost invariably “doing stuff”, which equals to spending money i.e. going for a movie or out for lunch rather than just walking or going to a park.

P.S. Also, no beef burgers and mediocre pizza.

Anita Vachharajani is a writer and has an 11-year-old child

What I love about bringing up my child in Mumbai

Growing up in Mumbai, as a single parent who worked two jobs, I never felt restricted in any way. I hope that sense of safety and freedom continues to stay around longer, so that my child can grow up feeling like her city is a safe one.

I enjoy the limited glimpses of nature that this city still offers. Like the squirrels and the birds that visit our balcony, the trees and the mangroves we get to see.

I like that Mumbai exposes my child to diverse people. There is no one language we all speak, no one food we eat, and no one set of gods we pray to. I feel that simply because Mumbai has, in a sense, fewer pretensions, it teaches you basic humility.

What I hate about bringing up my child in Mumbai

Mumbai doesn’t offer some things that I want for my child: like more open spaces, more access to nature, and stricter traffic rules and road safety. I think children need to play more, and it saddens me that in poorer neighbourhoods and ghettos, children have even fewer spaces to play in. But what I resent most is the diminishing greenery in the city. Everyone mourns the lack of trees, but no one objects to individual trees / groups of trees being cut, and that indifference is also peculiar to Mumbai.

Varsha Pawar works as a domestic help and has a 17-year-old child

What I love about bringing up my child in Mumbai

I love that Mumbai has plenty of opportunities, when it comes to colleges and job options, for my son. There’s so much that he can do here.

What I hate about bringing up my child in Mumbai

I live with my brother. Affordable housing is really difficult to find. If that was sorted, it would be a good place to live in.

Brian Rodrigues works in an IT company and has a 3-year-old child

What I love about bringing up my child in Mumbai

Being in one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world, Mumbai offers you a plethora of options across all fields and avenues. Infrastructure is at an advanced stage in Mumbai.

You can find loads of institutions, be it for elementary or vocational education.

What I hate about bringing up my child in Mumbai

As we go ahead, bringing up a child becomes very competitive in nature. It almost gets them into rivalry mode at school or day care.

Vankshu Shah is an equity investor and has a three-year-old child

What I love about bringing up my child in Mumbai

It is a multi-cultural environment with a very active social and family life with wide exposure to languages and people.

What I hate about bringing up my child in Mumbai

It’s not a child-friendly city, it’s not easy bringing up a child amidst terrible pollution, and one of the biggest worries is safety. A lack of parks and good beaches are some of the other natural activities that a child misses out on. There is a terrible and expensive rat race when it comes to schooling and a very hectic study culture, denying a child the joy of childhood.

Shinibali Mitra Saigal curates children’s festivals. She has two girls, aged 10 and 4

What I love about bringing up my child in Mumbai

I love Bombay as a city because it lets you be. This is applicable not just to adults but children as well. This sense of freedom is a great thing to equip a child with. It’s also a city where a child can grow up without fear.

What I hate about bringing up my child in Mumbai

Alas, there really isn’t a lot for children to do. It’s not a children’s city. We have green spaces but we don’t do enough to lure children there.

We push indoor play areas but not Rani Bagh and Sanjay Gandhi National Park as zones for children to breathe and play in. In terms of just doing nothing yet having fun, Bombay isn’t your city. Here, it’s all about structure and that kind of breaks my heart

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