Mumbai: 2nd largest city in the World

January 9, 2011

Mumbai: 2nd largest city in the World with 27million people and counting. It is said that every day 1500 more people, about 350 families, arrive in Mumbai to live, now added to that is the Performers Without Borders family.

Matt and Eluned had made their way here already with an over land railway trip to Tashkent and flight onwards for Eluned, to the Hotel Prosser’s.  The hotel is grand Victorian  building, situated 100 meters from the Gateway To India and a stones throw from the waterfront. The perfect place to start our 4 month tour.

Following on were Andy, Elma, Dave, Olly and Livi who flew in from a very grey and wet Deathrow airport in the early hours of Saturday morning, to a tasty 18C night temp. Collecting a huge amount of kit, which due to some sweet talking came with no extra charge, from a carousel in true generation game stylel-ie. Two taxi’s were organised mainly due to Olly’s India know how, and off on a rally ride to the Hotel. Horn! Horn! Horn! no sign of indicators, weaving in and out, not many road markings, red lights(?) and Andy being the only person in India wearing a seat belt. Past stray dogs, sky scrapers and families sleeping on the pavement, some with fires due to the cold? Hotel Prosser’s, made it, again mainly thanks to Olly and his Hindi. A lot of fun with mosquito nets and net envy ensued and then sleep. Woken around 12 by Matt and Eluned for our first curry for breakfast YUMMY!

To be in Mumbai is to always be in a crowd. By day the streets are clogged; at night the pavements are full of sleepers, bit like Camden. Through the hawkers and shops, selling everything from telescopes to flip-flops. Its tough going, too tough for a few jet lagged PWB members.

We decided to take a bus down to Chowpatty Beach for some fun on the sand and to watch the sunset, all romantic like. Choosing one of the busiest times to take the bus for 10 rupees one way, a great way to see a completely manic city at its peak, cars, bikes, rickshaws, mopeds, carts, you name it all beeping away.

“Oh I do like to be beside the Sea side!”

Dave on Chowpatty beach

Found a spot to settle and Andy thought it would be a nice spot to do his first juggling in India…within 1 minute a small crowd had formed around him, thinking he now better do something more impressive he switched props to diabolo. Next up Elma and Livi with some hoop-tastic skills, passing Matt to Dave, Devil Sticks more Hooping. A great impromptu show with funny clowning and general silliness. A crowd of around 200 people were in awe; amazing! It gave us all immense confidence for the PWB show, if we have a crowd and response like this just playing, whats possible with a sound-system, dancing and FIRE!!!

Oh look the sunset…oh well. Everyone is buzzing and we sit and chill for a while. The hawkers here are persistent but friendly: a chai wallah with an interesting sales tactic of farting in the face of Livi and Eluned, and a samosa wallah intending to marry Eluned (recently divorced from her train husband).

The idea of a beer is bounced around, heading for an extremely classy joint turns out to be extremely dry. Directed towards another place across the street, which worries most of the team due to Andy’s appalling jay-walking skills, thankfully a bridge is seen in the distance.

Enter into a male dominated drinking establishment and I mean drinking. The idea being to buy a small bottle of whisky and knock it down with your favourite brand of fizzy pop. Luckily they do have draught Kingfisher, in a can? Now the situation can only be described as turning surreal. Owing to Olly’s fantastic Indian style and demenour looks he attracts a male admirer who promptly sends him a napkin with a life like portrait and some kind words. Very romantic, but how to reply especially as we have only just got here? The beer is good and cold. The potential boyfriend comes over and asks for a memento from us all…HaHa. We decide to take a portion of ourselves and draw this onto a napkin amalgamating in a mega PWB member. We think he somewhat appreciates this and leaves the bar rather confused. Keep calm and carry on. Ah but whats this another note appears in front of Olly this time from the barman…another suitor?…a love triangle?

“Don’t talk to strangers.”

Time to leave, back on the bus and off to have curry for dinner Yummy! Back at the hotel we all sit around the ‘puter and watch a nice movie: Monsoon Wedding.

Some of the team had got asked if they would like to be extras in a Bollywood Movie! A few of the team leaped at the chance for fame and fortune an early start meeting at 6.30 Sunday Morning. So Andy, Elma, Eluned and Dave got up and on to a mini-bus with around 30 other “Westerners” all with the chance of being an extra in a film and being payed 500 Rupees for the pleasure. Unfortunately started looking extra pasty even for 7 in the morning. At the first opportunity both Elma and Andy left to get a cab back leaving Dave and Eluned to have their moment of fame, Bollywood will have to wait for the PWB movie.

We will keep you all updated as to Dave and Eluned’s movie antics. So here we are and there is not much else to report as yet. So far I will have to agree with a quote I read by Gandhi: “Well India is a Country Of Nonsense.”

– Andy