Archive for March, 2010

Mumbai Madness/Magic

Mumbai. “I am convinced that unless one understands the grain of the city at the physical level, the structure of the spaces and buildings, and how to make them seamless and connected – it is very difficult to create cities which are integrated, connected and sustainable for the future.” – Ricky Burdett.

It’s intriguing yet mind boggling as to what to expect from one of the most populated and diverse cities in the world. The slums? The smog? The worn down poverty stricken high-rises? The ‘Bollywood’ extravagance? The glass faced business complexes? Descending into Mumbai after the 9 hour flight from the comfort of my air-conditioned, calm, relaxed, comfortable surroundings, I was greeted by the most powerful, and amazing descent of my life from anywhere in the world I’ve had the privilege of visiting.

Up above a pristine, clear blue sky; down below a layer of thick grey smog. The final approach, you see the ocean to the left, the mountains behind you, the city ahead; business arenas, reaching high and standing proud. And then the slums. Everywhere. Surrounding the airport, filling every imaginable piece of land. Slums spreading as far as the eye can see, like a layer of patchwork cloth right through the city. Tightly knit around every obstacle and hinderance – most of which are luxury retreats, business parks, city malls, rivers, and the airport itself. And you land at the very centre of all this. At the centre of this densely packed environment, and you can’t help but feel surrounded and a little claustrophobic.

Driving through the city – although I should say, sitting in hours of horn blowing, 40 degree traffic, the culture simply slaps you in the face. The color, the vibrancy, the pace, the density, the diversity, the contrast, and the people. Slums intertwined with 5 star luxury resorts; businessmen intertwined with the masses of homeless people; children intertwined with men in industrial factories; children working as men, and drugs lacing the rest.

I was here for business/work, but already the impact of the city would be more powerful and lasting than anything I was here to do.

Before I left for Mumbai I came across a few stats. In Mumbai the top 1/3 richest people live on approximately 90% of the land, the other 2/3 live on approximately 10%, and 50% of the population live in slums, which cover only 6-8% of the city’s land. The disparity of wealth is staggering. But those are merely numbers, and what I learnt was that those numbers are truly meaningless, and highly incomprehensible. There is a genuine sense of appreciation which I’ve not come across in many other places. Appreciation of space, of food, of conversation, of life, and of a smile. Best of which is represented by the charm, smile and enthusiasm of the many rickshaw drivers. A genuine smile. A genuine interest. And the ability to communicate in English, regardless of the limitations their environment has put upon them.

What’s very interesting is the complete contrast in opinion towards the Oscar winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire. Everyone has an opinion, from businessmen, to rickshaw drivers; from children, to grandmothers, and it’s very much a love or hate type of approach. Some love it for its depiction of life in Mumbai and giving the people a window of opportunity; others hate  it for its limited approach, and restricted view. Mumbai is so much more than just Dharavi, yet there is also so much beauty in what most Mumbaikars or Bombayites would refer to as the ‘dark side of Mumbai’.

I want to get onto the work I was there for; what we did, how we did it, what we achieved and how it all helped the organization I was representing. However, looking back at it, yes we achieved our goals, and yes it was a success; yes the work was appreciated and we did work hard, and there is a lot I’m taking forward from it. But today I don’t feel the need to share anymore on that side of my trip, doing so would take value away from what I really want to say and share with you, and that is the true beauty of Mumbai.

This is not a travel blog, or a journal, it is not supposed to be about life experiences of such nature, or city insights. But it is supposed to be about experience, about value, about insight and about learning.

My visit was not for the experience, or for the culture; it was not for exploring and definitely not a holiday. However, I can’t help but think that the culture, the diversity, the contrast, the rawness, and most importantly the people, have left me an experience. An experience that is so rich and connecting. An experience that has taught me more than I ever imagined it could, or would. An experience that has enabled me to appreciate beauty on so many different levels. And an experience that I feel is one of the most powerful and enriching I’ve had the opportunity of coming across. But that is not down to the aesthetics of the slums, or the luxury, or the density, or the industries; it is all down to the people.

Mumbai: it’s definitely mad, but truly magical.

Away

Off to Mumbai later today for a spot of work with an international communications company. (Details to follow)

Preparing for the daily commute. Wish me luck.

#10

#10 of ‘50 Reasons

Twitter is my friend. No really. I love Twitter. I understand Twitter. I know of its potential, and its limitations; I know of its ability and its drawbacks; I understand its value, and how that is achieved and created. I switched to the Twitter way of life only a few months ago (back in October 2009); it is now an integral part of my daily life and a source of valuable conversation, information and content. It has become more of a passion, hobby, social platform (not just in terms of a medium), and something that I enjoy and love for so many different reasons.

Media, of any nature, is all about the conversation, the network, the connections, the interactions, and the content. These elements are at the core of what Twitter represents. Conversations that are ‘live‘ and current; networks that can be built around subjects that matter to you; connections with fellows who share your interests and passions; interactions that build relationships and create value; and content. Content that is real, up-to-date, precise, opinionatedspecialized, and constantly moving forward.

Twitter to me is more than just a medium, it’s a place from which I learn, share, and build relationships with some of the most intelligent, and open minded individuals in the industry.

I also understand, ‘Twitter is what you make it‘. Twitter is my friend.

#7 #8 #9

#7 #8 #9 of ‘50 Reasons

Attitude. Approach. Action.

It’s hard to mention one without the other. It’s almost an integration of all three aspects that creates an overall process. I have an attitude that’s driven and proactive; I push myself at every level, and I know I have the capability to do better and progress myself. My approach is always accurate and personal. I understand the three key elements of any process that are manageorganise and communicate; and I have the capability of putting them in to practice effectively. My actions are always measured and precise. I am confident in what I do, and always make sure I know the potential reactions of any actions.

To me, it is vital to have an understanding of all these key elements in making sure every job you undertake runs smoothly, and is managed effectively from start to finish. It is as much about you, as it is about the processes and frameworks you follow.

Visual Update

#6

#6 of ‘50 Reasons

I have great presentation and communication skills, but more importantly, I don’t mind using them. Jerry Seinfeld once joked that “The #1 fear for most people is public speaking. People fear public speaking more than death, so basically the guy giving the eulogy would rather be in the coffin.” I thrive on the energy that can be available to you in giving a presentation, and it’s always an opportunity; an opportunity to excel, prove and deliver.

It is one the most powerful situations in which to engage and connect. I enjoy the engagement it creates and seem to have developed a knack for creating and delivering presentations in an effective manner. However, it is a skill I’m constantly looking to progress and learn about; enhance my understanding and become stronger.

Virtual Hub

If you’re reading this post, more than likely, you’ve ended up here via my Twitter, Facebook, or Blogger page. There’s also a good chance you have multiple online profiles scattered across various services, including Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Flickr and Twitter. A network of profiles, all standing alone, all individually accessible, all trying to work together, but restricted in their ability to truly integrate. That is up until now. Say hello to Flavors.me

Flavors.me is what can only be described as a virtual hub where all your personal online doings come together, in one very simple and stylish page. It allows anyone to create an elegant website using personal content from around the Internet.

Between the great selection of services you can feed into Flavors.me and the extremely simple customization options – from information, to layout, to personal domain; it makes a great contact page (or lifestreamer, or microsite) for anyone.

It’ll take you no more than 20 minutes to set yours up. Go ahead, your web presence will be beautiful in no time.

Take a peek at mine…Adland Creative.