Madras Girl’s guide to surviving Mumbai

I have spent about a half a decade in Mumbai, and it is safe to write this survival guide for any one who is planning to move to Mumbai or is struggling with a move already made. Mumbai is an overwhelming city especially if you are from Madras – Attitudes, distances and approach to language is starkly different.





A friend once described the first few days in Mumbai  as the “Mumbai breakdown” when the city just gets to you, all you question is choices you made, what brought you there and all the melodrama that goes with it.You wonder why people make that strange pursing lip noise instead of excuse me, why rentals are high? , why no cross ventilationin homes and why the kitchen is next to the bathroom


Life in Madras was simpler for me, and at a sub conscious level I thought to myself that I must SIMPLIFY everything around me in Mumbai, because this had to be home. I am sharing with you,  what I believe it helped me. I am in my sixth year and not really planning an exit sometime soon. So here you go…

Stay Close to Work

No Shit Sherlock. For most of us who make the shift work is the reason, so the simplest thing to do is ensure that you stay close to work or have convenient access. I grew up in T.Nagar and Anna Nagar and Besant Nagar were far by my standards, so travelling distances was never my cup of tea. I work in Bandra East, and stay in West. Seems like the best deciscion for my sanity in this metropolis.



Find your zen zone.

We all have our zen zones, and if you are from my generation your predictable zen zones are likely to be Bessie, Zara, Amethyst, Ashivta – I recommend that you find your own in this city. A place that makes you happy, relaxes you and where everyone knows your name and are glad you came. A sense of belonging that happens when the coffee shop manager greets you  with a smile is priceless.




South Indian Comfort Food

Having a cook is pretty common in Mumbai. I have always admired the efficiency with which they work. I’m lucky enough to have a cook who is willing to learn, believe me some couldnt care less.  On Multiple trips my Mother In Law has taught her some South Indian dishes, and we also have a few books that we dig out every time we crave some South Indian fare. Our cook can now under supervision cook up some decent sambaar, rasam mor kozhambu, porials, Kootu, payasam and chutneys. So teach yours your favorite dishes.



All Coffee is Bad & Some Coffee is good

Don’t think you can have a good cup of regular coffee anywhere, this is the land of cutting chai. So through trial and error find your coffee spots, and unless you can stand mediocre coffee sway plans in yoru direction. I have realised as I have grown older, I have lost patience for many things and amongst them is Bad Coffee.

Zen Cafe


Find People to Call Ma

No, not a replacement for your mother.Yes, it is totally normally for us to “tut tut” and call men, women, peers anyone “ma” even though they are not our Mum. So build that Madras Circle of people either from the South or ones that accept that as regular conversation and not an exaggerated “Aiyooo Ramaaa” mockery. The comfrot of calling someone Ma and not being judged, or ending sentences with and additional “uh” is indeed priceless.

Check out the video below to know what I mean


What every Chennai person will relate to

Circulate Vijaykanth and TR videos

Growing up Vijaykanth and TR may have been people that we did not pay much attention to, but their videos and gifs are a good dose of TN at our disposal.I am supremely nostalgic about them though I am a sucker for most TN news,  I am specially partial about news about both these guys.



Regional Cable TV

Always have regional cable for a dose of :”Vitule Enna Samayail. A de- stresser is definitely watching Sun Music or any other music show. It amazes me as someone in communication and media that the format for those shows  hasnt changed it seems in the last 20. While Pepsi Uma was the epitome of telephone nteraction  – The Vittule Enna Samayil brigade lives on.The other very critical thing to keep tabs on would be all the new campaigns that are breaking out – Aadi, Pongal, Diwali, New Years… These ads make my world rock



The Most Important Thing however is  to accept is that life in Mumbai is different from life in Madras, and when you accept that and begin to celebrate that, you will appreciate the beauty in both. Expecting one to be like the other was a silly expecation, and one that probably resists change, because there is comfort in habit. For the longest time my twitter bio would read “Madras Girl Trapped in Mumbai” about 2 years ago I changed that because I stopped feeling trapped. My favorite # now is #MadrasGirlInMumbai. This is because no matter what I will always be a Madras Girl at heart, but I don’t need to look for a Madras Twin for peace 🙂



Would you like to add to this list??? Share away


2 thoughts on “Madras Girl’s guide to surviving Mumbai

  1. So interesting – I am a Boston/New England girl living in San Diego California, and though I’m literally on the opposite side of the world from Chennai or Mumbai (both great cities, by the way!), I totally relate to this. Everything from missing certain foods (Lobster! East coast pizza!) to realizing that the way you speak is unusual to people (the New England accent is infamous and I’ve found that what I considered my “witty sarcasm” back home is simply considered “being abrasive and rude” here) to dealing with a new transportation network. But I especially like your point about just having to accept that your new home is never going to be the same as your old home, and accepting it for its own unique charms.

    Liked by 1 person

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