“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.”
– Charles Baudelaire
Honestly, when Mr. Baudelaire pronounced these famous words, he probably attached a lot of aesthetic meaning to it, however, when you think of Mumbai in this context, you can take that quote in an atrociously literal sense. Known as India’s financial capital, Mumbai is home to more than 20million people in an area of 603 sq kms – placing in excess of a staggering 20k people living per sq km of it’s land. Phew! Hot & crowded, yeah? Well, that’s exactly what Mumbai is, though admittedly there’s far more to this great city than its swarm of populous masses. Located on the western coast of India, Mumbai is the epicenter of the nation’s economic activities – which probably explains its massive population. As a tourist destination, Mumbai has continued to attract and fascinate western tourists. The searing heat (or the ceaseless rains if you visit in the wet season) can truly push your limits as a seasoned traveler. The cosmopolitan nature of its population presents the perfect opportunity to observe a truly vibrant urban culture, mingled with a belief system that can qualify as borderline bizarre by a lot of western standards. Locals fondly call it ‘the city that never sleeps’ or ‘Aamchi Mumbai’ (meaning simply ‘My Mumbai’ in the local dialect, Marathi) and for someone who loves to travel and see a lot of places, I’ve always been glad to come back to a city of such complex characteristics and overwhelming warmth (both natural & humane).