When in Bombay

Hey for real! I’ve now been in India for 2 1/2 weeks and we’ve done a lot in that time. We’ve made our way from Mumbai to Goa to Kerala and now Bangalore. Jamie and I have not been doing a good job keeping up with the blog so far and we know this!  We will try harder, I promise 😉

In an old section of Bomany near Khotachi Wadi
In an old section of Bombay near Khotachi Wadi

When I first got to Mumbai it definitely took some acclimating to get used to the culture, food, weather…everything. Here are some initial thoughts I jotted down after a few days in India and in the city more commonly called Bombay:

Mumbai is a full-time bombardment of the senses. It’s an onslaught of sights, sounds, smells, flavors. Prasad noted, “You’ll find that most Indians like strong flavors. You won’t find anything bland.” This is an understatement. There is no decoration or clothing too colorful, no flavor too bold, no such thing as too much jewelry or adornment.

Sunset view from a Borvali terrace

The things that stand out to me most so far:

Chai: We have the sweet, spiced tea at least four times a day. It’s served on the street in tiny cups and in households with or after every meal, or at any old time. Jamie can’t get enough Chai and says she would have 10 cups a day.

Honking: Cars, trucks, buses, tuk tuks, taxis, bicycles, motorcycles with whole families piled on them, the traffic is insane and lawless in every part of the city. There is no such thing as a stop sign — whichever vehicle is bigger or bolder goes first. Red lights are a brief notion where cars pause before plunging into the intersection.

The sound of honking horns is non-stop 24 hours a day. Horns of all  different tones and timbres — deep bellows, high-pitched toots, long blares, short repeated beeps. A persistent symphony. The unofficial heartbeat of the city, and an important part of it’s personality. With this many people and the number of vehicles on the road at all times and no apparent rules, I don’t know how it works out, but it does.

Crossing the street is like a real life game of Frogger. You have to dash forward, stop in the middle on an island no wider than one person across, and then sprint for your life to make it to the other side. It’s pretty exhilarating.

Heat: And of course there is the stifling heat. 90% humidity. It’s too hot to do very much in the middle of the day, between 12 and 4 or so. You’ll be drenched in sweat in no time. I’ve never been so sweaty in public and not doing some kind of strenuous workout. I don’t know how local people can wear jeans and long sleeve shirts and appear to not even break a sweat.

More soon,


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