Bollywood films aside, Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is a great place to be. With a population of over 16 million it’s strangely not overwhelming. The Maharashtra capital is extremely cosmopolitan dotted with colonial style buildings and architecture. So far, it has also been the most contradictive place we have seen where Millionaires meet slums and Porches meet horses.
Thanks to our 30 seconds of fame we have met some fellow travellers in Mumbai and I love that in such a populated town and after only two days we can walk down the main strip of Colaba and bump into people we know. For those of you have read Gregory David Robert’s book Shantaram (and if you haven’t I highly recommend it) you will appreciate the mention of Leopold’s café. Leopold’s was made famous (or more so) by Roberts who continually mentions the café in his book which is based on the Aussies life as a fugitive in India. The prices are high in the café so we only stop for coffee but the waiter shows us a picture of Roberts and informs us that after finally serving out his sentence he now lives in Mumbai and visits the café regularly. I purposely walk past the café several times a day in hope of getting a glance.
Another place on my to-do list was Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat. This is the place where clothes are washed by thousands of people beating and scrubbing them on the stone basins. There was a small fight just outside the entry to this human washing machine but I decided to sneak a peek anyway (as Brent wasn’t too keen). A plain clothed man asked me for R100 to go inside and given that there were no guards or any other tourists around I decided to hand it over hoping it would earn me the privilege to take some photos. I didn’t get too far inside before I was bombarded by a group of men and their children asking me to take their photos. I happily obliged, showing the children their pictures and taking more as the men demanded. It wasn’t until the men started angrily demanding more money for the photos of their starved children that I started to grow suspicious. I lied and told them I would go outside and get some ‘baksheesh’ from my husband and slyly snuck away.
We also visited Haji Ali’s mosque, a beautiful seemingly floating Muslim shrine with an incredibly long walkway to the actual mosque. It is lined with hundreds of beggars from children to invalids as well as goats and stray dogs. The crowds combined with the overwhelming sight of beggars and the relentless sun made this trip a quick one but was worthwhile nonetheless.
We met some incredible people in Mumbai. Everyone had a story to tell. I am sad to leave this city.
|Taj Mahal Palace and Tower which was bombed in 2008 Terrorist attacks|
|Leopold's Cafe with one of the staff|
|Our accomodation at the Salvation Army|
|Dhobi Ghat from above|
|A man hanging out the clothes at Dhobi Ghat|
|Haji Ali's Mosque|
|Brent getting a shave|
|A game of cricket Maiden Park|
|A photograph of Gregory David Roberts - Shantaram|
|Victorias - Or Horse drawn carriage of which there are hundreds in Mumbai|
|A rather healthy-looking Mumbai dog|