Wow! Where do I start with Mumbai? As you’ll be able to tell after a quick scroll, I was pretty enamoured with the place. Big, busy, beautiful and so very eclectic.
I’ll be totally honest with you, India wasn’t at the top of my travel wish list until recently. I’m not sure Western cinema’s fixation on the poverty here has helped – you watch films like Lion and it doesn’t exactly make you want to hop on a plane. Of course, there are those stories to be told here, as there are in cities across the world, but there is a lot more to India, so don’t discount it. Any fears I had about safety, feeling out of place and even the food were very quickly allayed after our first day exploring Mumbai.
You’d think a city with a population of nearly 20 million people would be fairly intimidating (and okay, I’ll admit, crossing the road definitely is) but with the help of a couple wonderful guides to show us the best spots to visit, we couldn’t have felt more welcome.
Our first tour was all about Mumbai at Dawn. We met our guide Adi at an eyewatering 5am to head to our first stop before the sun came up. As soon as the doors of our minibus opened, our senses were most certainly awake – our first stop was the fishing port. Here the Koli fishermen throw their morning’s catch onto the dock where it’s quickly graded and auctioned off. 30 degree heat, humidity and 25 tonnes of fish make for some interesting smells..! We dodged baskets of fish and watched Mumbai wake up in the most hectic way possible.
Next up was the most fascinating newspaper sorting facility I’d ever seen (well, the only I’d ever seen..) – men lined up along the pavements sorting through papers in seven different languages, most of them doing so before starting their second job of the day.
The fruit, vegetable and flower markets were a total assault of colour, and a dream to photograph. This is where the locals come to shop, buying up bags of petals for ceremonies and traditions, or food for their families.
I couldn’t reccomend the dawn tour enough – it was an amazing way to see the city come alive and meet the hardworking people that make it possible.