Travels with V
India: Mumbai & Goa
Back to the future
Early next morning we’re transported to the Dabolim airport for a short jump back to Mumbai. As always, travelling through Goa is a heart-in-your-throat (as we say in Sweden) -experience, a slalom past lorries, tuk-tuks, motorbikes and cows coming at you from every direction. But the flight was ok. No luggage lost this time.
The chaotic traffic is one of the big riddles in India, to me anyway. No rules are respected, lanes are just paint on the asphalt, and overtaking is priority one. If there’s just a small gap somewhere you accelerate. All cars have dents. It leaves a tourist from northern Europe totally exhausted.
This time in Mumbai we’re in a hotel in Fort, north of Colaba where we stayed the first time. And if Colaba is rather European, elegant and posh, Fort is crudely Indian. Just outside by the grand hotel entrance the bazaar begins where clothes and plastic toys are for sale (and remarkably many sex toys…) handcarts are pulled this way and that, water-tank lorries force their way in, mini-taxis and tuk-tuks buzz around, the crowds fill the streets, people sleep on the sidewalk and once in a while a fat rat runs across the scene.
So, no, Fort is not touristic at all. No bars, just a handful of rather sloppy eateries. Not even the hotel has a restaurant. Or bar. We are shown a couple of blocks down to Café Mogambo, apparently the only place in the area where beer is served. But it’s a claustrophobic little joint, and still somehow desolated. We have a beer, drink it fast and leave. Strangely it is mentioned in Shantaram (see Mumbai part one).
There’s a long and wide green in Colaba where some kind of cricket activity is going on. The open space is filled with young men, many swinging bats, some throwing balls. No organized teams playing anywhere though.
Next morning before sunrise we’re already on the move, starting the journey back home. We pass warehouses where lots of people handle bundles of greens some sitting on the ground sorting, others carrying large sacks to lorries. The food distribution chain of Mumbai starts here, with the day labourers toiling in the darkness.
We pass slums where all the lights are on, while in the modern thirty-something-storey houses further away the windows are still black.
This fascinating town with it’s multitude of people never really sleeps. And a huge part of them never sleeps in a bed, they may steal a couple of hours lying on stone floors or sidewalks. Most of them came here looking for a better future, maybe now realizing that this is their future.
This India with its smells of sewers and perfumed incense. These contrasts are overwhelming for a visitor.
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