Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sensory overload in Mumbai, India.

As a first time visitor to Mumbai, 
I had been made aware by friends that the 
sensory overload would be profound.
And it was.
This image of fabric left behind by a receding tide,
was exactly what Mumbai was.
Weeks after my visit, the mixture of sights, sounds and smells
  were so profound that they still assail my senses as I write this.
On the surface, this image might look beautiful, but underneath
 there are layers of detritus that visitors might not be aware of.
That being said, if you allow yourself to be enveloped
by the chaos and the mayhem that is this city of 24m people,
and you will discover the warmth of the locals and
a culture that is older than time itself.

The view from the sea wall near our hotel.
These small fishing boats go out on a daily basis
 to eek out a subsistence living,
while the oil rig (just one of many) in the background
 brings untold wealth to the owners.

When I saw this fellow collecting recyclables, 
I wondered what he did with them.
Then I visited the Dharavi Slum and I found out!
Most of the waste that Mumbai produces ends up in the Slum.
There it is crushed,washed and cleaned before
 being sent off to plants that will convert it 
into pellets that are used in more than 2000 different products.
The slum has an annual recycling turnover of about $650m.
Much of this money does not go to the residents,
but to the owners of the businesses that live outside the slum.
That being said, there are many residents who are wealthy and 
those who make enough money to live on.

Not a usual sight in a Western city,
but not that unusual in India.
Here cattle are seen as gods and are treated with respect and deference.

I found this shrine outside a nearby hotel...
From L to R:  Ganesha (the remover of obstacles, 
patron of the arts and science
 and the deva of intellect and wisdom. 
As the god of beginnings he is honoured at the start of ceremonies), 
Krishna (one of the most revered of the Hindi gods)
 and Hanuman (a symbol of strength and energy)

This was one of the sights that I had been told about.
Morning ablutions on a "beach" at low tide.
I have to say that I was only aware of men doing this,
and unlike other cities where I was told that streets can be used as toilets,
this was the only place that I saw this practice.
I suppose the incoming tide washed this sewage away?

Side by side in the city...
In Mumbai the old and the new buildings stand next to each other.
Once upon a time, this now abandoned building used to be a hotel.
When I stopped to take this image the closed windows
 and boarded up doors told another story.

Right next door is this achingly beautiful hotel...
This is the old portion of the Taj Palace Hotel.

Feeding the birds is considered good Karma.
This fellow certainly took that to heart and had brought a large bag of food
which was devoured with gusto by this flock of crows.

Fishing boats, slums and modern high rise buildings.
All vying for space in a city that has more inhabitants
 than the total populations of some small countries.

Left over from the days of the Raj...
The main train station building in downtown Mumbai.
It was built in 1887 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. 
Her statue used to be found in the central alcove above the entrance, 
but that was removed in 1965.
This historic building and UNESCO heritage site is currently known as
the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
(I say currently as the station has already undergone four name changes)  

Just a small sample of the traffic chaos that seems to confuse visitors,
but is well handled by the local drivers.
Mumbai streets are home to approximately 3,2 million vehicles
of all descriptions.

If I was to pick and image that said "Mumbai",
this would be it.
Hundreds of Black Kites can be seen in the sky over the city.

Looking out along the water front...

From the house next to the Ghandi Museum.
Yes, that was an interesting place to visit, 
and a space that spoke to how humble the man was,
despite all the hardships that was placed in his path.
But I was looking to find images that would be
 off the beaten tourist paths.

Our tour guide in Mumbai was Salmani Oves. 
He lives in Dharavi and we were privilaged
to have been invited to his home to meet his family.
He was also instrumental in finding us places
that were not frequented by tourists.
Also thanks to him for helping me with 
much of the information in this posting.
(Our Whats App conversation was faster than Google)

Our trip itinerary was superbly handled by this travel company.
And specifically by Mr Aman, their Senior Travel Advisor
I would highly recommend that you contact them,
should you be considering a trip to India.
For more information on what they offer,
visit their website:


This is the hotel that we stayed at during our stay in Mumbai.

No comments: