Arriving in Mumbai at 10pm after a 12 hour train was quite overwhelming! (Not least as we’d missed our original train due to misinformation about the platform it was leaving from). Cars, people, stalls, goats and cows covered the streets, our taxi even had to beep it’s way through a narrow street to shift scooters and goats out of the way. We were too tired to face it that evening so decided to venture out the next morning. We headed straight to the Bazaars and quickly started to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city. The sights, sounds, and more potently, the smells, were unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. One minute you smell beautiful perfumes and spices, the next rotten fish and raw sewage.
The markets themselves were crazy, full of fruit and vegetables as well as pets and animals. The stalls seemed to be neighboured randomly allowed people to buy carrots and a puppy without having to move. Having worked up an appetite, we treated ourselves to Mumbai’s take on nachos – a delicious mix of chutneys, onion, coriander and tomato all on top of a freshly toasted popadom.
We then headed to the posher part of town to see the Gateway to India which was worlds apart from where we had been earlier in the day. This upmarket area had less of the charming food, but the views on the gateway to India, the sea, the hanging gardens and the world’s most expensive house were all rather impressive.
The next day we also visited the Dhravari slum which is the largest slum in India and 5th largest in the world. It is 2 square km housing 1 million people. Our perceptions of a slum were immediately changed. They aren’t the poverty stricken areas that we once thought, but just a community housing people from all levels of wealth. Generations of families have lived here to create the strong community feel which is why no body wants to move. The slum included bars, cinemas, restaurants And lots of industry such as recycling and aluminium making which we did not expect! The conditions were very crowded with 4-6 people sharing a 10 square m house in a large maze of houses. But there was also a large playground in the middle. It was an interesting mix of people whose families had historically been unable to find housing and therefore set up their own houses, there was still a split between states of origin and religions.
We enjoyed our Mumbai experience, we were however left drained as your brain is unable to switch off at any point as there is just too much going on.