Ever wonder why some people rant and rave about a given location, singing its praises no end, while others bitch and moan about the terrible experience they had? A buddhist monk I once met in north India told me “Everyone has their breaking point, if you haven’t hit it yet, then you haven’t seen a dirty enough toilet!”
For those of us fortunate enough to have seen a little of the world, we have probably all been guilty of it to an extent. I’ve certainly done it in the past, and my first brief encounter with Eastern Europe had me swearing I’d never again return to Hungary, that venturing anywhere outside of Prague in the Czech Republic was utterly pointless, and that only a fool would go to Romania. In truth, in the ignorance of my youth, it would take very little to set the pessimism in full flow.
Fast forward eight years and I’d love nothing more than to spend a summer wandering around rural Bohemia with a tent. I have come to learn that every place you visit has the potential to be fascinating, fulfilling and worthwhile. The secret is having the presence of mind to know when to shift those preconceived expectations you took onboard, and to look beyond the occasional unpleasurable encounter which will inevitably come your way regardless of where you venture.
I arrived to Mumbai recently, and like most Indian cities, it is a place that no doubt provokes the aforementioned in many. It will leave many in awe, while in others it will set off the panic button.
From Bollywood to the slums, Mumbai may well be the most intriguing of any Indian city I have visited. As is the case with so many of India’s incredible cities, it’s as full of contrasts as any. From the sweet-smelling to the foul, the abundance to the scarcity, the bustling to the serene and of course the polite to the overexuberant. Depending of what facet you expose yourself to, it’s often a place that elicits a wide assortment of opinions from those who visit.
I found myself somehow located in a bustling suburb, well away from any tourists. What was intended to be home for just a night, until I found my bearings, actually remained my base for the entire stay. I was never more than an hours walk from any place of interest, and quickly realised that there was no more enjoyable way to pass the days than to wander the streets of Mumbai with a camera, documenting the lives of its diverse inhabitants living out lifestyles from the luxurious to the downright bizarre.
What follows are a collection of street photos I gathered from my time there. Please do let me know if you’ve been to Mumbai and how your experience was!