Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Streets of Mumbai

There is so much to see and take in while roaming the streets of Mumbai. My head hurts after. I felt better prepared today, yesterday was just intense and overwhelming. Today I was READY. The sounds of Mumbai are a constant, endless around the clock blaring of horns and hammering. At dark add dogs barking, at about 3:15am the roosters start. The air is thick with smog, heat and a smell you don't want to think much about, later in the evening and early morning there will be a lingering scent of smoke. Hitting the streets I started on a lovely road lush and shaded with greenery and a perfect breeze. The streets are not marked so trying to absorb the landmarks when not familiar with anything and feeling overstimulated is always interesting. Jen and Vladimir made a good point, try looking up, the building of school, apartment and new apartments being built are all quite tall. When I hit the major street of my day's adventure it was complete chaos. Crossing the road was one of those life threatening challenges, that when I finally made it to the other side, my heart was racing. I crossed this street twice.

I saw everything you could imagine. There were chairs set up on the side walk with a man lathering up a man's face for a shave, others cutting men's hair in front of a stand selling cups of tea in front of another tarp roofed shop selling sandals. A bicycle with a grinding wheel to sharpen blades, vans parked with doors open to display incense and bags full of colorful spices, chickens in cages with the racks of eggs for sale right above the chickens, young boys pushing carts up steep hills full of pineapple, with a machete to cut it up for you, loads of street food vendors with carts or make shift tables, tarp covered shops selling everything, fruit piled upon tables lining the sides of streets and flowers that looked like carnations strung on strings of garland. All of this with a constant noisy stream of cars, buses, trucks, rickshaws, bicycles, motorbikes and loads of people on foot, the horns going off continually. Attempting to take in the vast array of shops, I noticed there were also pockets of shops, a horse shoe alley of sorts to check out. These shops are mingled in with dwellings. This is where I found my salwar kurta, orange of course! It is a casual wear one and I love it.

I stepped into a bank since my ATM card is free anywhere for currency exchange. There was a man standing at the entrance with a shotgun. At the end of this street there was the Oberoi mall. I wanted to check this out and perhaps find a restroom. I walked thru security like at the airport, complete with walk thru metal detector, bag search and pulling me off to the side for the wand scan. The mall was huge, several stories and air conditioned. Restrooms were spotless. As I stepped outside the mall, there were three men scrubbing the walkway around the entrance.

From the apartment where my sister and her lovely family live, is a lush view of the milk district. Seeing so much green space in such a tremendous city is like comforting eye candy. People here work endlessly, Mumbai does not sleep it seems. This is a city of monumental population, 24 million and growing. I wonder what people do all hours of the night and where they are continuously rushing off to....

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