By Michael Brunott
My companions were making ground ahead of me through the night time crowd as I slowed to allow the bustle of the Juhu beachfront satiate my senses.
The ocean breeze was now new. Bouquets of burning incense, chai tea, and spiced vegetables cooked over coal were brought to me with each gust. I’d survived an hour-long mad dash in a Mumbai taxi to be here; maybe I could survive longer if I just so happened to disappear into the crowd and lose – or should I say find – myself in India. I paused just for moment to admire the blowing palms and allow the seduction to intoxicate me further. For a second I look ahead once more and can’t spot any recognisable bodies. I smiled and turned my attention back to the ocean – the Arabian Sea. I’ve done it…lost in Mumbai.
There are many reasons people find themselves in Mumbai. It is the financial, commercial and cosmopolitan hub of India. There are more millionaires and billionaires here than any other part of central and south-western Asia. Indians travel from all over the country to claim their own share of Mumbai’s riches. Street vendors sell maps, drums, flowers, fresh produce – even plastic spray-bottles. Often the products are displayed under a meager shelter by the footpath waiting for potential buyers. However some city dealers prefer to find their customers and are persistent salesman, promising to give you their best prices.
Despite the lack of monetary wealth that is apparent for many Mumbaikars, it’s impossible to not be taken aback by the beauty of her people and the throbbing pulse of this city. Mumbai is a metropolis like no other. Everything you’ve already read, seen and heard about Mumbai’s contrasts and contradictions is true – and more. You just have to get lost to find it for yourself…
To be continued.