DESTINATION №. 1 | Uncovering the method behind this city's madness
There's no other way to describe our introduction to India but a baptism by fire.
While the photos may capture moments of space and serenity, the reality of Mumbai is anything but. Within a minute of venturing beyond its airport, Mumbai exposed us to the bedlam and bumper-to-bumper traffic that India is famous for. It's a city that instantly overwhelms and humbles you: it's as tall as it is wide with a skyline just as crowded with high rises as its streets are with people. A city of great history and architecture, of great wealth and poverty, and where that great divide is so blatant - as The Guardian so perfectly summed it up, "Mumbai is a city of dreams and shocking realities".
Mumbai was merely our gateway into India (quite apt given that the Gateway of India also stands in this city). We only spent a mere 36 hours in its madness - but for my first-ever taste of India, 36 hours was quite enough.
Mumbai isn't exactly a small city, so if you're wanting to explore the 'must-see' side
side of Mumbai, aim for South Colaba. It's the unofficial tourist headquarters of
Mumbai, the old British Quarter (trust a half-Brit to recommend there!), full of
vibrance & colour, things to see and do, and all within walking distance.
Aside from the usual Lonely Planet 'check outs' - The Gateway of India, Crawford
Markets etc - head down to Marine Drive to watch the sun set. Nothing quite compares
to an Indian sunset where the sun seems to set fire to the sky. NB: It's a good idea to
get there a little early as thousands of others will have the same idea.
On every second street corner you will pass walls of gold costume jewellery, perfect to
add a touch of grandeur to any outfit (typically USD$4 for a pair of incredible earrings). We
never came across these again in any other city - I only wish I'd bought more!
Crossing roads in the middle of Mumbai feels a little like a death wish. Until you get the
hang of it, tuck in behind a local crossing that same road. They know what they're doing,
and it will help you survive until you do too.