On being a “dog traveller” in Mumbai

©MRandin

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my aunt said just before we left India to return to Switzerland. She asked me if I’m a ‘dog traveller’ or a ‘cat traveller’. According to her a ‘dog traveller’ gets attached to people while ‘cat travellers’ are usually more smitten with the place.

I’m not a city girl. Crowds, noise and pollution are things I suffer through rather than enjoy. So without a doubt my husband (who I shall now refer to as “M” in posts where he mentioned) are definitely dog travellers. Our trip to Mumbai was special this time around as we were lucky to spend time with two pukka Mumbaikars who introduced us to the sights, sounds and most importantly the people of the city.

I can’t say that M. and I didn’t appreciate the main sites of the city. The Mumbai skyline rivals that of other big cities around the world. The new bridge, the Bandra-Worli sealink, is to Bombay what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. It’s an impressive engineering feat inspite of all the construction delays! The hanging gardens, the waterfront, the Taj Hotel (beautiful even though it was enveloped with scaffolding), the majestic Victoria Station and the Gateway of India are only a few of the sites that make up Mumbai. I think you could discover new things to see, do and eat for every day of the year.  

 As a ‘dog traveller’ what makes Mumbai, Mumbai? I’m going to try and answer even if I risk offending Mumbaikars reading this post who will probably say I haven’t even scratched the surface of this enigmatic city.

 Mumbai: Just keeps going and going and going…

After the hostage crisis in Mumbai in November 2008, I remember hearing someone say that Mumbaikars are resilient people and that the city would bounce back in no time. It’s not hard to believe. Aside from the fact that it’s the city that never sleeps, there is a buzz in the air – a buzz you feel the moment you step out of the airport, like the kind you find in New York. It’s the “if you can make it there you can make it anywhere” feeling.

Mumbai is not for the weak hearted. Keep up or get left out. Nothing says this more than the city’s driving culture!

Mark Tully wrote a book some years ago entitled No full stops in India. As we saw, even death doesn’t warrant a full stop on life in Mumbai.

Last rites (©MRandin)

 Smile – it’s the shortest distance between two people!

 Yet, people don’t seem to have forgotten how to have fun and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. We were stopped many times by old men and women, street vendors and children wanting to have their photo taken. Time and tide may wait for no man but there’s always time for a photo!

Can you spot the guy from out of town? (©MRandin)

This lady interrupted a potential sale to have a photo taken! (©MRandin)

Look what I caught! (©MRandin)

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone’s pulling your leg as the photo below shows! 

©MRandin

There are so many facets to the people of Mumbai and I wonder if anyone can really claim to uncover all these different aspects. It’s no wonder that visitors to Mumbai often fall into two extreme categories – they either hate or love the city. It seems that there’s no middle ground when it comes to anything in India.

 For all those cat travellers reading this post, I have but one word for you: “Woof”¨!

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