hard to set
up life in
When New Yorker Hanna Ingber Win told her parents she was planning to move to India, they
acted relieved. India felt less foreign — and
therefore less scary — than some of the
other places she had lived.
Like Myanmar, where Hanna, who works
for GlobalPost, a multimedia start-up
focusing on international news, spent a
year when she was 22.
She chose to come to India
because “so much is happening
here. It’s a great time to come
The founding world editor of
the Huffington Post, Hanna
has traveled to Ethiopia, South
Africa, much of Europe and
across Southeast Asia.
“I loved Asia and wanted to
go back. I specifically wanted
to be in Mumbai because I
heard of it as a dynamic city
where people have big ideas,
big aspirations, big dreams,”
Another issue that made her
chose Mumbai over other cities
in India was safety.
“Certainly coming here as a
young woman I wanted to
chose a safe place. Mumbai
feels incredibly safe, even if I
am walking around after dark.
There is always a paan shop, or
a rickshaw driver around. Even
in Brooklyn, I did not feel this
safe,” she said.
When she told people about
moving to India, they said she
would be overwhelmed.
“People said the sights and
smells and sheer numbers of
people in India will overwhelm
me,” she said. “I haven’t felt overwhelmed. I
also haven’t felt too much culture shock.
Perhaps because when you live in Mumbai,
you have everything available to you. You
can go to nice restaurants and fancy cafes
like this one. But of course that’s not why I
am in India. So I do as much as I can to
explore different parts of the city, different
communities with different ideas and atti-
tudes and ways of life than I am used to. I
also try to leave the city as much as I can. I
need to travel more within India.”
She has so far written stories on
Amravati’s fair trade system, how farmer
suicides affect the widows, why Mumbai
has such bad flooding, Bhojpuri cinema, a
chauffeur service for drunk drivers and
maternal mortality in Assam. She received
a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis
Reporting to go to Assam.
“Assam has the highest maternal mortality rate in India. There are three million
people who live along the banks of the
Brahmaputra River, and many of them
have no electricity, roads, or health care.
They couldn’t afford to go to the mainland,
and the state wasn’t bringing hospitals to
the islands. So an organization called the
Centre for North East Studies and Policy
Research decided to bring health care to
the islands. They created a system where
they load up boats with doctors and medicines. It is a brilliant idea. As a story it
shows the difficulty of getting health care in
such remote communities,” she said.
Outside of work, Hanna, who moved here
seven months ago, has spent most of her
time in Mumbai. How would she describe
“The difficult part is it is incredibly hard
to set up life in Mumbai. I work out of my
home. So things like getting the Internet
set up, and getting a phone were difficult. It
is very hard to get a SIM card or open a
bank account. You can’t just walk in and get
anything. But it is a learning experience
and you learn about India. About what
bureaucracy is. The trains can also be diffi-
‘Mumbai has witnessed a definite rise in people’s aspirations’
Mumbai-born Vikas Bajaj, has not allowed the success of being the first full-time New York Times
correspondent in Mumbai get to his head.
After writing extensively on the US econo-
my for four years in New York, he has now
settled in his native city.
Bajaj spent his childhood in the suburbs
of Bangkok before moving to New York.
He earned a degree in journalism and
after working for the Dallas Morning
News, he joined The New York Times in
2005 and landed in Mumbai a year ago to
concentrate on developments in the South
He observes significant changes in
Indian society and feels it is a good time to
capture the pulse of the city.
“Mumbai has witnessed a definite rise in
people’s aspirations. They now seek better
education, better jobs and are doing
everything to improve their standard of
life, as compared to 10 years ago, when
people desired a good life for their chil-
dren but resisted change and were not as
outgoing as they are now,” he says.
Professionally, the last year has been
fruitful for him. In contrast to New York,
where he reported on finance and hous-
ing, here his byline touched diverse sub-
jects ranging from captured terrorist
Ajmal Kasab’s trial to the row between
Bollywood producers and distributors.
Mumbai doesn’t have much to offer.
Italian, Japanese and Thai cuisines, for
instance, are not well represented,” he
Similarly, he feels it would be great if
there are more music concerts, independ-
ent bookstores and theater in the city.
Though not a Bollywood fan, he is look-
ing forward to the young turks of Hindi
cinema to make some refreshing films.
Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye, which he watched
on a flight, Omkara, Gulal, and Luck by
Chance are his favorites.
If there is something he detests, it is the
infamous Mumbai traffic. ”Even though I
enjoy the rains, I find it very annoying
when it floods and brings the city to a
halt,” he says.
He is blunt and critical about the urban
“Mumbai has certainly become more
cosmopolitan than it was but housing has
always been a pressing issue. There are
not enough houses to sustain the ever-
expanding population. I don’t see many
high-rise buildings. On the other end of
spectrum, we need cheaper housing to
accommodate the economically weak.”
He mentions the rehabilitation of slum
dwellers and water-scarcity as other neg-
lected issues, though that does not reduce
his affection for the city.
"In my mind, I am ready to take Mumbai
for a good three years."
— Anisha Ralhan