Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I spent my first day in Mumbai aimlessley wandering. I happened upon a quiet horse racing track that was covered by fields of overgrown grasses. This was a momentary breath of fresh air and cleanliness in a city that for the first day felt unbelievably dirty. I quickly realized that dirt is just simply another natural, earthly ingredient and that filth is the result of high concentrations of human beings in one place. Whether it is visible out on the street or swept up and placed into a landfill, it is the side affect of human growth and over population worldwide. The streets of Bombay are packed with people, some sleeping, some bathing, some trying to sell old trinkits, some talking, some watching dusty local cricket matches, and some just passing the time in the shade.

Walking around late at night, the streets were quiet but there were still people everywhere. There were no sounds except from the dense families of birds roosting in the trees that produced a solid conversational cloud of sound that hovered above the street like a low lying mist, draping itself over the still bodies sprawled upon every available surface, including inside of taxi cabs, on steps, or lined up side by side like sardines ready to be canned upon the sidewalk.

After walking around the race track I found a place where people were allowed to walk and exercise. In the center of the walking path there was an equestrian school for amateur riders. I watched them for a while, being that they were probably from the Indian elite, the sons and daughters of business people and politicians. The horses were beautiful and well groomed. After riding the young person guide his or her horse over to a pasture and sit in the grass holding its reins while it nibbled at the sparse clumps of grass that was once a full pasture.

The winding streets of Mumbai occupy the division between the decrepid architecture of the generations past British Colonial occupation. When I stood and looked up at the peaks of the buildings and into the heavily birded tree branches this place could be just like any other city. When looking up and away from the activity on the street, what makes a place unique becomes hard to readily distinguish.

This place has been well seasoned in time. Human life, animal life, and arboreal life, brought in contrast with the slow erosion of concrete, stone buildings and walls; the architectural reminder of the human hands short life span. There are stories written into the streaked stains that cascade down the facades of buildings, the rusted iron and copper deer run trails of water from the sky down on to the endless expanse of blackened Terra Cotta tiles patched with tar and paper. Nothing is hidden here. What goes on behind closed doors, and the things that go unspoken are all out on display.

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