By Kate Sheahan
Mumbai is a screaming city. Ten floors up in my hotel room I am writing to a soundtrack of sirens and car horns – an impressive feat when you factor in the set of heavy windows, hum of the air-con, and the Bollywood drama that is playing boldly out from my TV. The noise is a part of the city and it helps to weave together the vibrancy of the place – the colours and the spices and the people. Everything in Mumbai is loud.
In the forty-or-so hours that I have been here, the noise of the commercial capital has become a type of promise – an audible acknowledgement of Mumbai’s boldness. Nobody in this city is afraid to let you know that they’re there. Today, while sitting on a tour bus around Mumbai, children would run to the windows to talk, or wave, or ask for food. Men in the streets put down their baskets to watch us drive by, turning to point our group out to their friends. Crowds gathered around at tourist attractions – not to photograph the monument, but to take ‘selfies’ with twenty Australian student journalists. Vendors follow you down streets, women adorn you with flowers, and children dance between cars to get closer – and it’s completely unapologetic. Mumbai has a charm that is neither obnoxious nor intimidating but is completely and utterly present.
The people of Mumbai are bold. They are open and unafraid, but they are never threatening. Their love for foreigners is welcoming and completely inspiring – it is an attitude that makes you want to open yourself up to new experiences. The noise of this city lives in its population. I hope it has room for a few more voices.