Culture Shock: Banaras to Bombay

It only took a few hours in Mumbai to realize that I was in a completely different world than the ancient city of Varanasi.

The majority of the many months I’ve spent in India have been in Varanasi: living with a family, eating simple pure vegetarian food with my hand, coming in for the evening at 7 or 8PM. The days are long and slow and spent with other people. Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world, and very traditionally Indian. Mumbai couldn’t be more different.

Mumbai-bronwyn-McBride-800In Mumbai, instead of eating family food at home, people order in or go out to one of the countless restaurants that offer international fare. Instead of keeping romance unconditionally private, Mumbai’s lovebirds take advantage of the long stretches of seafront, going in the evenings to sit and kiss. Places like Nariman point and Juhu beach are crowded until late at night, the few stragglers only heading home after the police start blowing their whistles. Rather then being limited to the traditional salwar suit or sari, most young Mumbaikar women wear jeans, skirts and low cut tops. Those going to nightclubs or parties in the evening wouldn’t look out of place in any major Canadian or American city. The same women study or work, not at all restricted to being housewives, but enjoying every option.

The Mumbai skyline is jagged with skyscrapers and luxury apartments worth crores and crores [ten million in Indian numbering – ed.], looked upon by some of the absolute poorest and absolute richest people on the planet. There is an enormous spectrum of feeling to be lived here in Mumbai, and I can’t wait to experience all of it.

New-Bronwyn-McBride-250Bronwyn McBride is a student from Vancouver, BC, and now lives between India and Canada. After quitting her intensive study of circus arts and dance in Quebec, Bronwyn flew across the globe alone to see if she could live in a very different way. It wasn’t her first visit to India, and wouldn’t be her last!

Wherever she is, Bronwyn explores different ways to volunteer and get involved with local communities. She’s worked with severely disabled kids in a Mother Teresa orphanage in Kolkata, crossed the country with a social change performance tour, and has spent long months through the boiling summer in Varanasi, working in a school for girls. Next up: enjoying volunteerism and a foray into Bollywood in India’s cosmopolitan metropolis, Mumbai.

More of Bronwyn’s writing can be found at:

Author: Bronwyn McBride

Bronwyn McBride is from Vancouver, Canada. After years of circus school in Montreal and Quebec city, and then a long summer in Varanasi, she now lives in Mumbai. Besides working in communications and fundraising for an educational NGO, going for runs and sampling Mumbai's fabulous variety of street food, Bronwyn loves to observe and write on all facets of Mumbai's diversity, beauty and struggle. Her personal blog can be found at

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve always wanted to make my way to India, and especially Varanasi. Hopefully someday soon. Thanks for sharing this with us!

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