Mumbai Baby

(This is how I look when there are brownies in my midst. The Theobroma (a sweet little cafe in Colaba) truffle brownie was as rich and divine as it looks. It nearly brought me to tears.)

(apartment buildings, sparkly purses and Dave ordering the best tea of our lives, "The Taj Blend"-- assam and darjeling-- at the Sea Lounge in the Taj Palace Hotel.)

My Mom described her experience of Indian cities, particularly Delhi, as the 10th district of hell… and while I don’t completely share her opinion, I do see where she’s coming from. Mumbai is not Delhi, nor is it Chennai, New York, LA or London, it is very much itself – it is a city full of loud honks, dramatic late 19th century architecture, crazy cocktails, unreal humidity, luxurious hotels, endless textures and hussle. And that description is just the tip of the iceberg!

We arrived via a 13-hour train ride from Panjim, our beloved town by the river, and entered the winding streets of Colaba (South Mumbai) with that familiar travel-weary mixture of excitement and exhaustion. The ocean breeze put a slight dent in the densest air I’ve EVER walked through, more wading than walking. We opened our camera and the lens immediately fogged and would remain that way anytime we were outside in Mumbai.

The cosmopolitan and international feel that permeates the city is visible in the diversity of the folks here-- in the style of clothes they wear, foods they eat (hello Falafel shop!), movies they watch – Inglorious Basterds was playing down our street, language(s) spoken and religions practiced. Down every street was a small temple shrine, a mosque, a vendor selling Jain jam sandwiches and maybe a towering cathedral on the next block. As a result of this mixture, Mumbai feels different than any other place we’ve visited in India. We went to bars, museums, shops, galleries, cafes, and markets – it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Speaking of the latter, we also stumbled onto some of the hottest (as in temperature) and overwhelming markets of our lives – acres of tiles, old tires, guys sawing at metal pipes, hordes of people crammed under a highway overpass, trucks with cages full of shabby chickens, animal blood all over the street, old toilets, a very British tourist, sweaty day laborers sleeping on blue pushcarts resembling teeter-totters, bulls with painted horns looking tired, collapsing buildings covered in laundry of every color, shape and size, hand tools and metal parts forever… The sheer number of people, the endless amounts of stuff to look at, smell, hear and experience – it was an assault of the senses only the biggest of afternoon naps could cure. And so we did nap. And then woke up to another walk and plan for the rest of the day, maybe something more relaxed in our neighborhood, Colaba, which we learned the rest of Mumbai just refers to as “town.” So we walked by the sea… Marine drive delivered a beautiful sunset that was almost cool, the sea breezes washing over us – with couples sitting on the promenade, chai-sellers, breath-taking pink skies and a pizza shop we stopped in at the end of the rainbow, like a shiny pot of belly gold.

We’ll always have Mumbai.

(produce at the Crawford Market, built in the late 1800s -- tons of shiny fruits as well as scary animal parts ... goat head anyone?)

(me working my haggle on Fashion st. and a popular Mumbai book store)

(this tea timer brewed the perfect cup! we went for medium.)

(my feet and their ridiculous sun tan-- we've walked all over!)

1 comment:

  1. oh lee, I love your descriptions! you are really drinking it up and swimming through the textures and smells and sounds. i'm walking with you and dave, wishing i could wade through too!