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During my stay here in Mumbai, I’ve been continuously amazed by the stunning divide in regards to the wealthy and the poor in this city. In a mere rickshaw ride, this separation is immediately apparent; one can see how the sumptuous excesses associated with the rich can immediately transform into hamlets that are devoid of those excesses.

This delineation truly became apparent to me yesterday (Tuesday). An excursion to the J.W. Marriott hotel showed the other half lived. The hotel itself was luxurious almost to the point of absurdity. It was a place not too far removed from a hotel that one would see in Las Vegas. High ceilings, fountains, expensive wares for sale, hand towels to dry your hands in bathroom; this hotel had it all.

Upon leaving that bastion of ornate opulence, the rickshaw ride back to our apartments immediately translated a tale of two cities: the aforementioned temple of extravagance versus an existence that communicated simple living. Of all the cities that I have visited in my world travels, Mumbai is the one city where the split between the rich and the poor is incredibly profound. Short increments of distance and time give an indication of that separation.

Despite that division between the two cultures, I think that it is important to note that it appears that people are content with the existence they have carved out for themselves, no matter their socio-economic status. Poverty has not worn people down; they wear it as a badge of courage, in other words, it’s a source of pride. They are not shameful of their surroundings in the slightest.

I keep on mentioned the word divide, or some variation thereof, but any appearance of “division” seemingly is not part of vernacular of the citizenry of Mumbai, outwardly at least. Everyone’s existence is on their own terms.

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