The fascinating streets of Mumbai

Posted on April 16, 2019 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Mumbai streets

Mornings and Sundays are the best times to ramble around Mumbai

 

I have wanted to visit India for years and yet never made it until recently. However, due to all the negative press on safety issues for female travellers in recent years, it made me quite anxious before my trip. The only 'alone' time during my month-long trip was in Mumbai, and even though I have a good friend there, I still had concerns despite being told that Mumbai is supposedly the safest city in India.

After spending a total of 5 nights at the beginning and the end of the trip, I can now say that Mumbai is generally a safe city for single female travellers. This was also confirmed after speaking to other single female travellers during my stay and they all felt the same way. I think when we travel in major cities, it is necessary to be vigilant anyhow, but I didn't feel that Mumbai is more dangerous than cities like New York or London.

 

mumbai

mumbai

mumbai

mumbai

Mumbai's rapidly changing cityscape

 

In fact, I found Mumbai utterly fascinating. Upon arrival, it is hard not to be overwhelmed by the chaos, noise and pollution level, but I got over it quite quickly. I think it is a city that you would either love it or loathe it. Mumbai's current urban population is estimated to be around 22 million (8th in the world), while London is just over 9 million (33rd), so if you think London is hectic, then try crossing the streets of Mumbai during the peak hours - it is really not for the faint-hearted.

 

Dhobi Ghat

Dhobi Ghat

Dhobi Ghat - the world's largest open air laundromat

 

Mumbai cricket

mumbai

Cricket is still Indian's favourite sport

 

What make big cities interesting are usually the people, history, architecture and cityscape. In order to appreciate a city fully, you have to be act like a flâneur/flâneuse because walking is always the best way to explore a city. However, some cities are not made for walking i.e. Moscow (not made for pedestrians), and a mega city like Mumbai (I had no idea it was so vast before my trip) is hardly ideal for strolling around. Now due to the constructions of the metro system, the city looks more a like a gigantic construction site and will stay this way for the next few years. During my stay, I relied on uber a few times (cheap and pretty safe), took the train once (with a group), took a tuk tuk once and then spent the rest of the time on foot. I chose to stay in Fort (the old part of town) initially because I knew it would enable me to ramble, and at the same time enjoy the beautiful colonial architecture around me. I highly recommend strolling around Fort on Sundays as it is much quieter with less traffic and tourists.

 

mumbai

mumbai  mumbai post box

mumbai

mumbai

mumbai

A signage (see above) that looks very much like the London underground!

 

One of the problems the world faces today is homogenisation. Major cities around the world are being homogenised to the point that old neighbourhoods are disappearing to make way for international chains like Starbucks, Zara and H & M etc. Do we really want all the high streets (and airports) around the world to be the same? Starbucks has been trying hard to make each coffee shop look different, but this is just another marketing strategy to trick the consumers. I like Mumbai because it differs from cities like New York, London, or Hong Kong - It is vibrant, full of character and surprises. Here are some of the reasons why I love the streets of Mumbai:

 

The people

Despite its size and population, I actually found most people in Mumbai very friendly. At times, strangers would say 'hello' to me in the streets, while others would ask me for a selfie (Indians love taking selfies with foreigners), but I never felt threatened nor did anyone harassed me when I was alone. Interestingly, many Indians don't mind being photographed, which is not always the case when you travel in countries like China and Russia.

 

mumbai  mumbai

mumbai

MUMBAI

MUMBAI

tuk tuk mumbai

 

Colours & street graphics

Mumbai is a colourful city. I was particularly captivated by the trucks with hand painted water tanks around the city. They are so distinctive and playful - I love seeing them in the streets. While many first-world cities are embracing the digital technology and competing to be the world's 'smartest' city, I found the hand painted street advertisment and signage very refreshing; I only hope that this kind of craftsmanship will not die out in the near future.

Indian graphic design is unique and conspicious without being tacky. They love usuing strong and contrasting colours with bold typpgraphy, yet they tend to work fairly effectively.

 

mumbai water trucks

mumbai water trucks

mumbai water trucks

mumbai

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mumbai graphics

mumbai street graphics  mumbai street graphics

mumbai street graphics

street graphics mumbai  street graphics mumbai

Colourful and interesting graphics

 

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street art mumbai

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mumbai street art

Street art

 

Animals

It is rare to see animals roaming around in big cities, but cows are ubiquitous in Mumbai, and sometimes they are just 'parked' on the pavement, which I find quite surprising.

 

mumbai

mumbai

mumbai

mumbai

mumbai

 

Religious shrines

Religious conflicts are a complex issue across India, especially between Hindus and Muslims. Although the majority of the population in Mumbai are Hindus, you can still see mosques, churches, Gurdwara, Jain and Buddhist temples in different parts of the city. Hence you can find shrines of different religions in the streets, which indicates the diversity of the city.

 

Religious shrines mumbai

Religious shrines mumbai  Religious shrines mumbai

Religious shrines mumbai

tiles  mumbai tiles

 

Street food vendors

It is hard to avoid street food vendors in Mumbai, and the best ones often gather crowds around them. Regrettably, I didn't dare to try the street food, but I loved walking past these stalls and often was drawn to them because of the smell and crowds.

 

mumbai Street food vendors

mumbai Street food vendors

mumbai Street food vendors

 

Fruits and vegetable vendors

street food vendor

mumbai Street food vendors

mumbai Street food vendors

mumbai street vendor

mumbai Street vendors

 

Street vendors

I loved seeing a variety of small street vendors in different neighbourhoods. While many street vendors in other Asian cities are disappearing due to urban development and gentrifications, it gave me joy to see them still thriving in Mumbai.

 

mumbai Street vendors

mumbai street vendor

mumbai street vendor

mumbai street vendor

mumbai street vendor

mumbai

 

After listing all the positive points about Mumbai, there are some issues that I have yet to point out, and I shall continue in my next entry.

One sad incident also happened during my trip was the collaspe of the foot bridge connecting the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station to Badaruddin Tayabji Lane. Seven people died and at least 30 others were injured in the incident that took place during the peak hour on the 14th March. When I heard the news, I was traveling in Gujarat, but I seemed to recall crossing the bridge less than 2 weeks ago.

 

mumbai bridge collaspe

mumbai

The foot bridge that collasped less than 2 weeks after I cross it in Mumbai

 

I tried to search for the photo of the bridge on my phone but couldn't find it (turned out it was on my camera). I wanted to know if it was the same bridge that I crossed had collapsed. And it was THAT bridge. My heart sank immediately. I felt terrible for the victims and their families, and I realised it could have happened to me.

Apparently, it was the third foot bridge that had collapsed in two years in Mumbai. Yet the structural audit and repairs of this foot bridge were carried out only six months ago. These incidents reveal the infrastructure issues, and negligence is still prevalent in Mumbai/ India. As foreign travellers, we are unaware of the depth of the issue, but this incident did make me see Mumbai in a different light.

mumbai sunset

mumbai sunset

Last evening in Mumbai

 

To be continued...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This post was posted in Photography, Travel, Street art & graffiti, Street life, Mumbai, India and was tagged with graphic design, sunset, street life, street art, street food, Mumbai, India

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