our next stop after christmas in koh kood, was india – first: bombay (or mumbai, as cheeks has grown up calling the city). it was busy, crowded, and loud – i didn’t expect any less! we visited with relatives and friends, rode on rickshaws, explored many alleyways and ate lots of food – especially the food that cheeks missed after being away for so long.
we stayed in bandra, an old portuguese town that is now also home to many hindus, muslims and parsis (aside from the christian population). the suburb’s numerous churches were all lit up and decorated with garlands and star lanterns for the holidays. it got me in the holiday mood, for sure!
one of the most memorable moments for me on this leg of our india trip was riding the rickshaw. it goes at just the right speed that i saw everything – like everything was going in slow motion, and i could peek through the crowds, and through the cracks between windows and gates. a man was getting his beard shaven in a makeshift barber shop; a pair of cows were waiting to be fed on the sidewalk (a blessing for the feeder); a crowd in front of a gated building waiting for news about someone who got electrocuted because of a loose electrical wire; a cobbler, again in a makeshift shop, sitting on the ground repairing chappals. small vignettes of daily life in mumbai.
people from opposite ends of the social class spectrum live side by side in mumbai. there is no way you can deny that poverty exists. the most expensive home in the world, the antilia, and the largest slum, dharavi, are both in mumbai. it’s definitely a huge contrast from here in cincinnati, and most US cities, where local governments try to “clean up” their cities by relocating, not allowing, or even arresting homeless people. how real really is it living in a city where you think everyone is doing okay socially, financially, and every other way?
if you had any doubts about visiting the city, don’t let my views add to your hesitation. ofcourse you will be saddened by the things you will see, but you will also come to admire the people who live it day after day. cheeks and i bought fresh coconut juice from a vendor along carter road, and cheeks asked if he ever thought about moving back to the countryside. he responded with a smile: “this is my home now.”