Solo girl at Mumbai, India

Jes , 8 Comments

Sales review is like a 武林大会 (martial arts congress) where people from all over the world congregate at one place and present their moves and strategies.

However, the review is held in Mumbai, India.
Really crowded India.. (Source: Wikipedia)
I have been hearing some horror news about India ever since I entered the work force. Some advice people tend to offer are:
1) Water is not clean, better to use bottled water even for brushing
2) Never walk around alone
3) Most food will cause diarrhea, only go to reputable restaurants and hotel ones
4) Better not wear skirts, dress conservatively

In Singapore, we take all these things for granted, clean food, water, air, neat streets and even our own safety. We grow up being sheltered and not knowing how blessed we are... until we travel to these places.

I decided to ignore these advice and test out on my own, after all it's the only way to find out.

This concierge gave the nicest smile I have seen 

My sea view room

The first day I arrived, I had some free time and went to walk around the Oberoi Hotel's area, which was one of the hotel under terrorist siege in 2008. Security was tightened after that with a full body pat down and bags check at every enclosed building that you wish to enter. I assure you that their Number 1 position in Tripadvisor is well deserved with in-room checking in, personal butler service, impeccable service, ala carte breakfast where you can order everything on the menu and customized it to your liking too. It is just in front of the beach so I can get sea view from the toilets too.
Back bay and the whole sea view
I started to walk around and saw many Indian men around and it was pretty uncomfortable with them staring at you without turning away even if you stare back. 90% of the people on the streets were men and it seems like I was the only tourist roaming alone. Honestly. I thought that I would see many tourists milling around but the sheer number of Indians totally overwhelm the number of tourists, including at all the tourist attractions. Seeing how crowded it is everywhere, you would know that Mumbai has a highest population density than Singapore.

These food stalls are the lunch for office workers
Queueing up for food!
Walking around and ignoring the stares, I came across some of their local food stalls on the streets. It was lunch hour and everyone was eating at the streets. India has over 1600 languages but English is their official and common language so there was no problem speaking to them.

They were really friendly and nobody harassed me, except for the beggars.
The fruits are stacked so high, I wonder if
anybody ever bumped into them
The friendly vendor introducing me his food 

And then one of them shoved their menu to me so I ordered their most popular food, which is the vegetarian pizza. It consists of cucumber, tomatoes, cheese and onions in between 2 pieces of toasted bread and topped with cheese and other sauces. I had 30% of it to test the cleanliness of the food. The rest I had to throw away although it was really delicious. My first day there and I do not want to risk my entire trip camping in the toilet.
Some sandwich which looked disgusting 
My $1 pizza sandwich which tasted great!
3 hours exploring and taking pictures around, I walked back and met my Indian colleagues. They said that I was brave to walk around alone, which indicated that they agreed it was not safe for ladies. I think day time is fine, just not night time.  The few ladies I saw wore pants and knees were not seen at all. It's better to avoid unwanted attention then.

We were brought to all the nicest Indian restaurant and frankly, I don't particularly enjoy Indian food. Singapore indian food tasted much more flavourful and intense and all the foreigners had the same taste on this.

I think my best meal is from the hotel's breakfast, with the waffles beating every other food hands down!
Crispy yet soft and not too sweet with a tinge of salty... yummy!
Not forgetting my main purpose of being here, the whole review takes around 30 minutes only. I had struggled for several days to come up with a great presentation with all the usual sales figures, competitor's information, commercial highlights and new opportunities. This really made me think of this proverb: 台下十年功,台上十分钟。Nonetheless, this trip was worth it.

Just 30 minutes (plus several days) of hard work and then fun all the way! We had time to learn cricket and  played a match among ourselves.
Super sunny and the cricket game was fun for team building
We went to take a yacht out to watch the sunset against the Taj Mahal Palace and Gateway of India backdrop.
Up on the yacht for a informal gathering
And to see the nice sunset over Mumbai's sky line
We did some local shopping which was stuffy and sweaty and not the least bit interested with the disorganized arrangement but it was definitely an eye opener.
The disorganized chaos from what I can see
Heard that Mumbai is the cleanest of the Indian cities but the cleanliness is worse than Shanghai. Construction works are at every street and dust particles are seen clearly. Heard that pollution is the main factor why their life expectancy is only around 60+ years old.
Unpaved streets and unmarked street dividers are common
Crowded, sweaty and not recommended
To conclude, this is what I have learnt:
1) Water is not clean, better to use bottled water even for brushing
False. My colleague brought 8 huge bottles of bottled water there and did not had to use any. The bottled water provided by the hotel is clean enough.
2) Never walk around alone
True only for night time and dark alleys, more dangerous for women of course.
3) Most food will cause diarrhea, only go to reputable restaurants and hotel ones
False, as the street food caused me no harm but 30% of my colleagues got stomach upset even from the reputable restaurants.. so it's up to individual.
4) Better not wear skirts, dress conservatively
True to avoid more stares, better to avoid sleeveless and low cut tops too. 

All in all, I can say that this sales review is fun and I look forward to the next one =) 


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  1. wow what dream job are you holding?
    keep travelling

    1. Hi Jimmy,

      I am doing regional sales but company likes us to gather twice a year for sales reviews so we get to travel! Haha there are many other travelling jobs around.. If you want it bad enough, you will get there =)

  2. Jes,

    Your stomach must be made of iron.

    I'm one of those 30% of your colleagues who will get Bombay Belly each time I travel to India.

    What to do? I dainty or what?


    1. Hi SMOL,

      Dainty cannot be used on you man... *vomit* hehe.

      Think Singaporean stomach too pampered cannot take Indian dirty food. I thought i am ok but after a few days also got mild discomfort so I am sure the percentage just increased to 50% haha!

      Anyway you travel there to give talks again?

  3. Jes,

    I travelled to Indiia and Pakistan in my past life both as a purchaser and facilitator.

    After being at leather and textile factories in the sauna 40 degrees heat indoor, I am never going to complain about working conditions in Singapore ever... Can literally fry an egg on the bonnet of our car!

    My last visit was in Gurgaon, New Dehli 5 years back? It's much more pleasant going back as a facilitator to sell LEAN supply chain "koyok" in air-conditioned conference rooms.

    Was pleasantly surprised to see so many fortune 500 companies there? Reminded me of Shenzhen during its early days - man made, modern, but without the old world charm...

    Yup, I am quite pampered as a Singaporean :)

    1. Hi SMOL,

      Oh, a purchaser... then I always meet your sorts to negotiate then =) Thought textile and leather are more in Vietnam? Pretty cool job you have to go there and get free sauna hahaha! It's still around this temperature nowadays in Vietnam and Thailand. No need bonnet, I feel that my head can fry an egg hehe.

      I agree we are quite pampered in Singapore, but it's a good thing that we know we are blessed. With so many Fortune 500, I still don't understand why they can't do something about their sanitation to improve their water sanitation.

      I will think twice before heading there on my free and easy trips haha.

  4. Hi Jes,

    I use to handle India market and I must say u r brave to walk alone for a lady.

    My wife went there often and rarely go out alone while her colleague did. She was so frightened when people start pulling her hands.

    I was also brave once walking alone in Brasil until many people tell me not to do so! I heed their advice the second time I went to Brasil, bcos it's true that so many people were stab. Of course I m not the unlucky one! And also I must be responsible to my family nowadays so life is precious!

    1. Hi Rolf,

      Yeah there is a thin line between brave and foolish. Walking around in the day is fine, not many harassed me luckily, they just stared probably because they have never seen a non-indian girl before.

      I also heard dangerous things about Brazil, there are streets to avoid but other than that, it should be safe for tourists... somewhat like Philippines. We take the safety of our streets for granted and got reminded of it every time we go overseas. Stay safe but still enjoy! :)