I have been to Mumbai before. But never really taken the time to see it. I thought Mumbai was dirty. It needed a giant hose to wash it down. And the two extremes of poverty and luxury mansions made for a contrast as stark as black and white.  This trip was different. I did not see black and white, I saw many greys… and beautiful greys at that.

I love this next image of Mumbai during the monsoons.


I went to Mumbai on the pretext of the Kala Ghoda Festival. But that was not the complete truth. I came here for so much more. I came for a break, to recharge and rejuvenate. Not for the nightlife, not the buzz, not the famous and exciting Mumbai vibe – I came here for creative inspiration. I connected with people that I had thus far only had sporadic conversations with over the net. Some whose work I admired, but had never met in person. Some friends from school and college…

I stayed with Chandan Dubey‘blogger’ friend who until the start of the week was someone I admired for her work. I planned to be with her two days. Due to a change in plans, those two days rolled into five!! And I came away with a friend. No prefix or suffix to that. We talked early in the mornings over chai and then late into the night over some more chai. I enjoyed the company of her children, and was completely bowled over by her home. You can see images here and here.

There was so much to see, touch and savour. She shared ‘her’ Mumbai with me, one layered and loaded with texture and inspiration. I spent hours walking the streets and by lanes in and around Kala Ghoda. We were not looking at stores but at streets and architecture. We wondered into the David Sassoon Library and enjoyed the tiles on the floor and the old wooden furniture that had layers of history etched in every grain. The Esplanade Mansion was beautiful, made entirely in cast iron and transported from Britain and assembled here. It is old, dilapidated and almost falling down in parts. But it is alive with people and activity. And cats!!

I went into the Sabyasachi store in Fort- not for the clothes, beautiful as they are- but to see the texture of the walls, the old memorabilia collected and displayed every where. Chandan and I met Vineeta for coffee at this wonderful coffee place on the sea side at Bandra. These two ladies are part of my ‘Effortless Friendship‘ series that I have blogged about before. You can read about that here and here.

I did the mundane and bought Kolapuri chappals from a street vendor in Colaba and then had the chance to photograph the reflection of the same in an old mirror in Chor Bazaar. Chor Bazaar was mind boggling in the variety it offered in pure color, form and texture. I was pleasantly surprised to see goats tied up in front of every shop. I found myself smiling till Chandan tells me – “… these ones are being fattened up!”

I saw wonderful and benign looking gentleman all dressed in white.  And contrasts of so much garbage offset with the richness of hundreds of years of culture, heritage and memory in the shape of knick knacks available.

We went to the Bhau Daji Lad Museum and the patterns on the floor just blew me away. It has been recently restored and the ceiling is breathtaking.

Chandan has been photographing the patterns left behind by humanity as the city constantly changes and reinvents itself. I wanted to share with you three of my favorite images from her repertoire of work.

This trip to Mumbai gave me fresh perspective. Waking up to a glorious view of the sea will do that I guess 🙂 Every morning was almost heaven – akin to nirvana!


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