There is an energy and life in Mumbai which is distinctive and certainly very different to the Africa I have just travelled through. It is a whirl and frenzy of stimuli which refuses to settle. Everytime I step outside, I don’t know what to expect. The smells change. The heats changes. The atmosphere changes. I am acutely aware of the fact that I have only just arrived, and it is like standing on the edge of a vast, deep, turbulent, dynamic lake. I’m only dipping my toe in at the moment, paddling around, testing the waters. But I know, clearly and surely, that there is so much more. Everywhere.
The history of this place is ancient, the religion integrated. It plays out on street corners. Like how dried flowers and herbs adorn architraves. How little shrines appear, everywhere, decked in layers of colour and flash garlands, candles and offerings.
This morning, a cup of chai- a sweet, milky, spicy concoction which bubbles in steel pots on street corners. I chat with the other people who share in the daily practice. It is beginning to become more familiar.
This city is wealth and poverty in a single glance. Today, one moment I was playing a game of firecrackers with a group of street children, and the next, I find myself walking through a fancy pancy courtyard, rimmed with exclusive boutiques and jewellers. I can walk through worlds here. I may stick out like a very sore thumb, but the access is odd. Which world will it be next? Wait, let me have a look around.