Sunday, November 06, 2005

The North Indian flight

I have been visiting Matheran, a quite hill station near Mumbai, every year almost as a ritual. Many of our friends in fact say that we go there to fuel its economy by paying 3000/- for a night and a couple of drinks, which would cost you not more than a few hundred back home.

I have seen Matheran change a lot, it’s an hours drive from where I stay in the suburbs and was one of our favorite holiday destinations years back – both cheap at the same time classy. Change in the early and mid 90’s came when few Gujarati traders & businessmen started buying property on the hills and new (so called luxury!) hotels cropped up to get their share of the pie. This was expected and was not something the people of Matheran and Neral (the village on the foothills) would have despised. A very big and easily noticeable change that has people in Matheran/Neral worried is the gradual rise of the North Indian population. They have taken up jobs in the shops, hotels, as cab drivers etc that were earlier filled up by the local population. This was my first visit to Matheran after I came back from the US. The feeble protests from some of the locals I spoke to sounded like folks on the Lou Dobbs show protesting against outsourcing to India and other countries.It took my thoughts to the truth that Thomas Friedman recorded so well in his recent book about the world being flat. The outsourcing story, the demand and supply equations have all been playing up to the gallery in every single village, town and city for a much longer time that we all have noticed. It just becomes alarming when the local population begins to suffer out of not being competitive enough to still garner jobs and wages at their older and higher rates.

PS: - I am seen here with Vicky a smart young man who came to Matheran from UP 6 years back and now runs this shop for the owner.