Luxury dream worlds are beginning to sprout up all over Mumbai. My research turned up a few residential complexes starkly diametric to the slums in which 10-12 million Mumbai residents call home. Residential compounds such as Orchid Ozone, complete with all the amenities including an amphitheater and private mall; Orchid Tower in central Mumbai, with high-rise units as large as 3000 sq. ft. and 4 bedrooms; The Four Seasons Mumbai, a tall luxury hotel with rates upwards of USD $600 per night; The Lakeside Chalet by Marriot, complete with CNN and ESPN in every room.
Modern shopping malls are in vogue, and judging by the images that I found during my research, some malls in Mumbai could compete with the finest in America. Shopping malls are ubiquitous in Mumbai, “on every corner,” says Nicole Dastur of The Economic Times in India (Oct, 2008). According to the same report, there are plans for at least 30 new malls to open in the next 2 years in greater Mumbai. The headliner of all these malls will be a mall being developed by the Hirani Group; this mall will be nine stories high and over 55,000 sq. ft. of high-end fashion stores representing both Indian brands as well as international.
High Street Phoenix, located in the Lower Parel district of Mumbai, is a lavish shopping mall which boasts high end stores such as Lacoste, Nike, and Guess Jeans. And no mall, including High Street Phoenix, would be complete without a Subway, McDonald’s, and a Domino’s Pizza. Another example is Atria: The Millennium Mall, located in central Mumbai, is a “five level complex consisting of Shopping, Entertainment, Food & Leisure catering to the needs of both middle & upper middle class of urban people (from the Atrium’s website).” The Oberoi Mall in western Mumbai has over 700,000 square feet of shopping space. It also has a retractable roof.
As is visible in the image to the left, parts of Mumbai are interchangeable with any high-end shopping district in the world. The photographer in this picture could be in South Beach in Miami, Beverly Hills in California, or South Mumbai. This picture is from Mumbai, of course, but again speaks to the extent of the effects of globalization on the world’s cities. The key is ubiquity – there are no global cities in which travelers cannot find their comforts of home. Globetrotting Americans can most likely find a Starbucks, a shopping mall, and ESPN or CNN wherever they travel. They can more than likely speak English when they go about the city; as a matter of fact, in Mumbai, almost everything is written in English, particularly in the wealthier areas of the city.
by Stephen Marotta