Mumbai: Where are the Mumbaikars

I went to my first get together in Mumbai last weekend. Very similar to a New York or London set up with a couple of differences. Meet in a bar, but no deafening music till much later at night. Some delicious finger food and since it was a farewell, the hostess actually fed us all dinner.

I was struck by the sheer number of expats that I met, and continue to meet, since my move to Mumbai. I met up with five people who knew me back in New York. There were people who had moved from London, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, Washington DC.

I have now attended meetings at the Indian exchanges, and a few other multinational companies. At every meeting, there’s at least one or two people who have moved from the US or UK or Europe. I hear American euphemisms such as “this is not a mom and pop shop”, or “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” or “let’s take it offline” being bandied about as the conference room bay windows show large crowds circling the streets of the Mumbai Mantralaya or the High Court.

Someone commented, with surprise, on my lack of an American accent despite so many years abroad. I thought of all the euphemisms I heard and wondered what’s worse: Indians who go abroad, never acquire an accent but speak in American colloquial form (yo dude, what’s up man) with a thick Indian accent, or Indians who sport an American accent although they never really left Byculla and then sport Indian phraseology (It is most likely not possible) with a rich Brooklyn twang.

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