Being a foreigner in Mumbai


Being a white foreigner in Mumbai means:

  • People assume you have money

This is the reason why I often find myself hiding.

Currently I have some “free” time in a spare bedroom with the lights off – so that the electrician doesn’t try to charge us extra to drop a cable in so that our direct to home satellite cable can be installed.

Here are some other times I’ve had to hide or cover up in India

  1. to get a tire fixed I covered my self with my kid’s rain coat
  2. any time we get vegetables from the street my husband parks over the hill so he can still bargain
  3. while trying to get a taxi in an area known to go unmetered
  4. When looking for domestic help

My husband calls this the “Amanda tax.” We are paid in rupees so yeah… I may be more charitable than others but I am not in a position to pay double or start at a quadruple rate!

Overall at times covering completely would come in handy. When talking about the price of vegetables and how some vend0rs are fair while others are not many assume it is due to lack of language ability. Really that is likely a slight part  overall there is an assumption that if someone is white they are rich.

In India a large portion of services and small shops do not have a retail price listed. Service rates increase when we say the community we live in. Thus we describe the surrounding area (main roads) before asking price THEN give address. It is the only way to at least try to get a fair price.

This is also another reason my husband is not appreciating the “push” I gave to move here. He has to deal with a bunch of things that in the US I would be able to take care of – instead he has to go in to find an electrician for small things (because installing a wire for your cable satellite requires to be thrown and pulled down walls or to ask for a delivery of something mundane.

Oh being a foreigner anywhere probably is the same in that you “yell out” almost (or for real!) when you see someone “like” yourself!

Hopefully once this is settled we don’t have any other installs that require my hiding- and – more importantly – my husband from doing double duty. He’s adjusting to India too – after all he left almost 20 years ago and never held a job in India or set up a place to live here before either!

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  1. Hopefully you will be able to adjust to this, but it must be very tough. I think it’s great you were brave enough to make such a big move! Good for you and your family!

  2. I never hide, I can’t because my husband isnt here a lot of the time anyway. If someone won’t give me a fair price I just walk away. Although nowadays everyone knows me and the skin tax has become pretty minimal.


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