The end has no end.
And so we said see ya to Mumbai. Six days of waking up on the edge
of Bandra West's Hill Road, where life made no sense, where it made perfect sense and paradox is a way of life. A metaphor for the world today, perhaps? Confusing, thrilling, hustling, intense, dense, calm, rowdy and instantly un-fucking-forgettable.
A hub of Fixers, Photocopier Enthusiasts, Chemists upselling your mosquito repellent with a half price bag of Doritos, Leather Bag Repair Geniuses (or is it Genii? - looking at youuuu Saskia!), Selfie-Loving Security Guards, Sweet Chai Vendors, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Endless Smiles and Endless Curiosity.
We did the sights, well, some of them. You've got to, haven't you? Took a taxi down to South Mumbai (auto-rickshaws can't go that far into the echelons of the city's tourism mecca - damn, cos they're a LOT of fun. And the drivers don't give a fuck. )
Anyway, I digress. A bit of book browsing at the elegant, homely Kitab Khana bookstore. Quiet, chill and lots of great works. Then a bit of a wander to check out the coloniser's (that'd be the Brits) architecture of the High Court of Bombay and the city's University of Mumbai. Not allowed in the grounds which was a bit mean, but hey, the security dudes were as nice about it as they were enjoying their feet up time.
The Indo-Saracenic architectural style of the Gateway of India - was this a way for the British supremacists to subvert local identity and reassert themselves as the natural continuation of Indian rulers? Discuss - is arguably one of the most visually stunning entrances to a city from the sea. But I found it ever so slightly underwhelming up close and personal. We should have gone out on a boat trip to see from afar, but I couldn't be arsed queuing.
Back on the trail and a wander around the Colaba Causeway Market. A riot of vendors, hustlers, hawkers, browsers and shoppers. And us.
Cos we're western tourists and our privilege allows us. Fucking colonialism.
"They get to see our lives but we don't get to see theirs."
- resident woman of Dharavi
We managed to get an SD card for the camera. Ordinarily, this event would be categorised as hugely unremarkable personal admin. However, the sense of achievement was as sizzling as Bert Brogden's deep fat fryer...…just got to work out how to use the thing now - and then we started to make our way back, happening to pass the Leopold Cafe, site of one of the first attacks on Mumbai in 2008. We didn't go in. I don't much like voyeuristic tourism. But it was time for a brew and cake, so we chowed down at the Irani-style Khala Ghoda Cafe. Top notch. Highly recommended.
South Mumbai. Exhausting. Exhausted. Eyes Popping. Let's get home. Ok, that's not that straightforward - it's about sixteen kilometres for starters. And it's a pretty hairy ride at six pm. Fuck that, it's not hairy, no, it's fun. Trust your driver. They know their shit. The traffic here looks chaotic and gnarly to us rule-loving westerners, but hey, the system here works.
I'm not really sure.
I had my eyes closed.
Here's a collage of some of the other places we visited - Bandstand, Yoga Institute, the back streets of Hill Road (one of my fave areas)……...