We just arrived,
Mumbai, a cosmopolitan mega-metropolis, earlier known as Bombay, is the largest city both in India and the state of Maharashtra. Mumbai was originally a clutster of seven islands on the Konkan coastline which over time have been joined to form the island city of Bombay. The island was in turn joined with the neighbouring island of Salsette to form Greater Bombay. The city has an estimated metropolitan population of 21 million (2005), making it one of the world’s most populous cities.
The Gateway of India is the most recognizable symbol of the city, was built to commemorate the visit of the British King George V to India in 1911.
Mumbai is regarded as the commercial capital of India and is one of the busiest port cities in the country. One of the most eclectic and cosmopolitan Indian cities we are seeing sights very different than any we have seen in the last month. Young women are wearing extremely revealing clothing–short shorts and skirts, plunging necklines, bare arms all side by side with the conservative colorful saris to which we have become accustomed. It appears that much of the glamor generated in Mumbai is because it is the centre of the globally-influential Hindi film and TV industries. (Are most of these bare beauties running around hoping to be discovered?) We are staying in this district, which is also home to India’s largest slum population.
We had a strange but tasty dinner in a restaurant run by the Hari Krishnas which is located right next to the cult’s enormous four square block temple complex. I went into the temple with thousands of Hindu devotees. The temple is a blatant tribute to Hari Krishna’s life and contains enormous bigger-than-life dioramas depicting significant events in his life including some in Santa Monica, CA and San Francico in the late sixties. The daily worship begins at 7 PM with the chanting, swaying, bells and tambourines–a crowded claustrophobic experience with thousands of devotees just like we used to see in American airports. It was an amazing disquieting experience.