5 November 2016

Mumbai 02.11.16 - 05.11.16

Three moments in Mumbai 


A Jovial Commute.

A train journey in Mumbai costs 5 RPS or around 7 pence. Getting the ticket is the easy part, the challenge is actually making it onto the train. By day three our understanding of railway norms in India had began to grow and as our already over-crowded train began to pull away we looked at each other and had one of those 'fuck it' moments. Clutching one another we ran, jumped and pushed our way onto the carriage as the locals cheered us on. Our tourist status seemed to vanish for that journey. Then, despite being packed in like sardines one man pulled out a bag of freshly made Indian pastries and offered them first to us and then to everyone within reaching distance. As if that wasn't enough of a struggle four or five of the men gathered around a mobile phone as best they could and began playing a board game, we watched fascinated as they laughed and joked together whilst eating, playing and all the while hanging half way out of a moving train! As they finished the game and the train began to slow for the first stop, a man clinging to the carriage with only one foot and one hand somehow managed to pull out a wad of napkins determined for us all to take on.

Each man then got off at a different stop which made me think, they may not of even have known each other. 


How did we get here?

As a tourist in Mumbai it's apparently fairly common to be asked if you would like to be an extra in a Bollywood movie. When our time came we of course agreed, completely unaware of what lay ahead. A taxi picked us up from our hostel at 8.30am and dropped us off at a derelict looking studio where we were lead into a small dank room that looked a bit like a prison cell. At this point I well and truly thought we had been kidnapped. Within a few hours we were handed costumes and seated for makeup - a lot of makeup. Just as I was ready to make my grand entrance the group of around 8 of us was called for lunch; a selection of curries, rice and poppadoms served in our cell-like 'dressing room'. As I stood in my bright orange plunge dress, full face of make-up eating the most delicious curry in that dank room the size of a prison cell I thought: if I had fast forwarded to this moment three days ago, how on earth would I piece together the in-between!?


Mixed Emotions

We had learnt from our Bollywood experience that white people are mostly deemed as glamorous in this part of India - hence why we were asked to play extras. This especially came to light when visiting the tourist-y areas around Mumbai where  we found ourselves more popular than the actual monuments. Entire families were gathering around to have their picture taken with us, the children staring in amazement at our foreign skin. There was one girl that sticks in my mind. We were walking around the central museum when a man tapped me on the shoulder, I turned to face him and met his wide eyes as he pleaded, beckoning towards his daughter who was staring up at me. She didn't want a photograph, instead she held out her hand gingerly to shake mine. As our fingers touched she smiled a smile so big there were tears in her eyes. As we walked around to the exit she ran up to the railings and clung on peering through, half smiling half stunned by her experience. Both Dod and I walked away from the experience with mixed emotions ourselves. 

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