No photo, video, or story could have prepared me for what was about to become my life for six weeks. India has an extraordinary way of living – while a customary practice for locals, it would become some of the most peculiar, captivating and charming things I’ve ever seen, tasted and experienced.
So here is a breakdown of some of my highlights from my first week here in Mumbai – Happy reading 🙂
Following the long 12,000km journey to India, it felt cathartic to finally arrive in Mumbai with an open mind and as I emerged from the airport it introduced an abruptness of life as I knew it. Now what no one told me about India is that the road code for pedestrians and drivers is a profound change from the norm back home – it’s hectic.
An unofficial and unwritten road code for Mumbai (AKA: What I’ve learned about road use since arriving in Mumbai):
- Drivers beep all the time as if it’s a second language.
- Crossing the road can be challenging, with so many cars coming from all different directions. Therefore, you will see people weave between cars in traffic or hold up their hands to stop upcoming vehicles. Top tip: Stay in a big group when crossing; this way, drivers are more likely to stop.
- Walking on the side of the road is justified against walking on footpaths.
This unwritten road code forms organised chaos, which can take a day or two to get accustomed to!
Now one thing I did know about India was that it had lots of food to offer! India is the ideal place to explore the culture through food, so it was perfect for one of our first meals in Mumbai to be a traditional thali meal. A thali meal is an assortment of seasonal foods served on a platter. From this meal, I also learnt that we should try eat foods in a particular order and eat certain foods together. It was an overwhelming and very filling experience, to say the least; however, it was nice to try foods that would be so hard to come by in New Zealand and look at food from a more spiritual paradigm.
One of my favourite parts of Mumbai is the street markets. Most streets are lined with vendors that sell anything from Indian street food, fruit juices, jewellery, bags, and clothes. So far, my favourites have been the books for less than NZD 3, the fresh sugar cane juice, which always costs less than NZD 1, and the xerox stalls that can do your printing. As you can tell, most things on the streets are affordable, but if you bargain well can be incredibly cheap! Since we don’t have stuff like this back home so readily accessible, it’s been fun, even if it means being desperately pursued by street vendors.
Highlight/s of the week: Dadar Beach cleanup and Sunset at Marine Drive.
With the organisation I intern for (K corp charitable foundation), there was a fantastic opportunity to volunteer at a beach clean up! It felt good to get amongst the local community more and give back to a country that has given me a lot in such a short time!
While this week was full of new experiences, it was refreshing to sit and reflect while feeling the sea breeze and admiring the sunset at Marine Drive.