Mumbai is to India what New York is to the USA, according to Neil McWilliam, Head of School at Oberoi International. India is certainly "incredible," but Mumbai is unique even within India. While chatting with Search Associates teachers working in Mumbai, Senior Associate Bill Turner was particularly interested to hear that safety was the first quality they recognized and valued in the city. Notably, women reported feeling safe when walking around alone, even after dark. All teachers said they found Mumbaikers proud of their city and extremely warm to visitors.
There are many good international schools to work in. Bill visited five Search Associates schools in Mumbai, covering IB, British GCSE, and American curricula, where standards are very high. The students respect their educators and are hard-working and a delight to teach. Parents are supportive and engaged. Professional development is excellent. There is also no age limit on teaching in Mumbai. Whereas most countries stipulate a ceiling of around 60, older teachers are welcomed in Mumbai.
Life is also very hectic. Bill reported that the traffic is crazy in Mumbai, and he recommended not driving there because “you'll never be able to work out the rules anyway!” He is quick to add, however,
“There is so much to watch from the window of a taxi that it's a shame when the journey is over.”
In Mumbai, most people speak sufficient English for one to be able to communicate, even if it is only to say “Turn left" or "Stop here" to a cab driver. There are 150 commonly spoken languages in India, but all better-educated people speak English. This is a great stress reducer as it is fairly easy to explain what you need, and actually get it too.
Some teachers were quick to describe Mumbai—and India in general—as "charming, mysterious and spiritual,” with awe and wonder all around, all the time. Religious and other festivals occur so frequently, that opportunities to appreciate and participate in the colorful and noisy events are easy—often taking place on your own street!
Some teachers commented on the exciting arts scene, with its wide variety of indigenous and Western exhibitions and concerts to enjoy. Indeed, Mumbai is the home of Bollywood! Many international companies have their headquarters in the city, so expectations are high, and there is plenty going on to keep people—including sports enthusiasts— well-fed, busy, and entertained. Mumbai is also the “foodie capital” of India.
Mumbai is a great place for an ex-pat to save money! Pay and accommodation are good; taxes are low, and income tax is usually paid for by the school. The cost of living is also very low. Some teachers, especially those with children, choose to employ a driver or housemaid. Bill assures overseas teachers that this helps Mumbaikers put their children through school. Locals told him they were able to build a very comfortable life there.
Mumbai is unique. One teacher said to Bill,
"Every day, you will see something you have never seen before!"