The global network of 55,000 Carlson School graduates is a source of pride for the school. When I worked at the Carlson School, I remember public addresses and communications from Dean Sri Zaheer highlighting the deep network I am now benefiting from. My journey is enriched when I meet in person or chat virtually with an alum.
Building on the amazing welcome I received from Carlson School friends in China, Vietnam and Delhi, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with another Carlson MBA graduate, Harsh, in his hometown Mumbai, India. While I did not realize it until after our day together, the chance to talk about topics from home, his business Tenicity, and our shared experiences, was a special break from the quick connections common in my traveling life.
In Harsh’s home he took time to share family photos and stories about his Mom’s experience as a professional tennis player and his Dad’s experience playing professional cricket. Both of his parents represented India at the top levels of their sports.
Harsh’s mom, Mrs. Nirupama Mankad, is a role model for women in sports and a tennis legend. She broke barriers for female athletes in the 1960s as India’s top ranked professional tennis player for more than 10 years. I tried hard to imagine what it was like to travel the globe as a ranked woman’s player representing India, a country with more strict gender roles than the U.S., at a time when womens’ participation in sports globally remained a newer phenomenon. Kudos to this amazing woman and my gratitude to her for opening doors for those who followed.
With friends from my dorm room, Mona, Anky, and Arancha, we spent a day together exploring. Our first stop was the Elephanta Caves located on an island an hour ferry ride from mainland Mumbai. For a few of our fellow visitors, we were a more exciting tourist attraction than these caves that are believed to be from the 5th to 8th century AD.
Deities including Shiva are carved in the caves. The complex includes 5 Hindu caves and 2 Buddhist caves all carved from solid rock.
As the ferry from Elephanta Island returned to the mainland we had a great view of the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The hotel is the second most photographed icon in India after the Taj Mahal.
On our boat ride to Elephanta Island we made friends with two Indian guys on holiday. After exploring the caves together we called an Uber (Yes! Uber is in Mumbai and it is great) to drive us to Girgaum Chowpatty, or Chowpatty Beach as the tourists say, for a wander by the sea and dinner.
Realestate in Mumbai is expensive and the city sprawls. My hostel was a 40 minute railway ride from the city center. Riding the Mumbai Railway was an exciting experience. On my first ride, the train was so crowded I was held in by other woman while most of my body remained outside the car. Colin from the U.K, another dorm friend, enjoys the view.
I rested for a few hours at Harsh’s childhood home. It was an amazing sunset view. The Sea-Link bridge connects two of Mumbai’s neighborhoods, Bandra and Worli. The $240 million bridge opened in 2009 reducing travel time in some areas from 60-90 minutes to 20-30 minutes.
Harsh’s home has a few mementos to his parents’ successful athletic careers representing India at the top levels of their sports. One item is a photo of Mrs. Mankad receiving honors from the Prime Minister at the time, Indira Gandhi. We also walked the boardwalk outside his home and I rested in his mom’s apartment. It was a great day!