My Mumbai friends used to tell me often that “Mumbai has charmed them in ways other cities have not been able to, Mumbai pulls them into its DNA irrespective of where they are from and they become part and parcel of its local culture”.
While I have not really taken into that kind of charm that easily, Mumbai does inflict an influence on any visitor in more ways than one. Especially South Mumbai. One gets a positive sense of the moving culture and business-like approach in Mumbai, that one would not be able to get that easily in other cities of India.
Montreal in Quebec province of Canada, and the second largest city of Canada (after Toronto), is one such city. Recently I spent some time in Montreal, which is a rather nice city. It is French-speaking, but is also bi-lingual, so no problem in getting around with people. It is a beautiful city with French influence all over the place.
The architecture is reminiscent of an European city, with modern buildings interspersed with old architecturally radiant structures which attract attention. Montreal is easy to get around, most people can walk, take a bike, or ride a metro. It is a well-laid out city with good urban planning. I enjoyed walking around the city, though the weather in May was not helpful – it was cloudy and occasionally raining, with temperatures as low as 9 deg Celsius, a rather low figure for summer.
I could not see many Asians, except in the university areas. But I could see several Asian restaurants. The food scene in Montreal is as lively as its culture, with a great variety of cuisine available. I had the opportunity to enjoy a selection which was absolutely delightful.
I also noticed that shopping in Montreal was not as expensive as in other North American cities, and even living costs were lower. Grocery shopping was not more expensive than it is in India today ! That was a surprising discovery. Ofcourse, it goes without saying that the supermarkets were much better organized and had a wide variety and selection of stuff as compared to India. Organic produce appeared to be popular !
Will publish some photos in due course,
28 May 2011