As an employee of Bombay Connect (a platform that acts as a co-working space for social change), Mahesh Makwana regularly interacted with expatriates and tourists who were new to the city. Since he grew up in Mumbai, Makwana is aware of the city’s functioning and dynamics and he used his knowledge to help non-locals access the city with ease.
“I used to help them procure local SIM cards, look for apartments in the city, tell them easy ways to commute, advise them about the hotels they can stay in, places where they can eat good food and a lot more,” he says.
After a while, some of the foreign tourists who became his friends advised him to do this professionally and that’s how Bombay Survival Services was born. “I started it as a Facebook page two months ago and I have got a lot of requests and have catered to many people since,” he says.
Makwana also takes people on heritage walks around the city and shows them fun places to visit. “I once met a few tourists who wanted to see South Mumbai through my eyes. So, I took them to a few local eateries and other places, which a typical heritage walk may not include. It was a lot of fun,” he recalls.
Those who are interested in availing of his services need to pay a nominal charge. To go on a heritage walk, the cost would be approximately R400 per person. “But the cost varies according to the service. I hope to lend a helping hand to anyone who is stuck trying to get around the city, whether it is finding a driver for a day, getting the best street food or finding accommodation for a month. I cater to services that will help them survive in the city,” says Makwana.
Makwana lives in the BMC colony in Khar and has only studied till standard 10th. Ask him if he wants to pursue higher education and he says, “After I completed my SSC, I wanted to start earning. I did a couple of jobs but I wasn’t too happy. I know the pulse of Mumbai and I can help people get around this city. So, I really hope this venture works well for me.”