I can imagine how many people from the west have journeyed out to India and have commented on its lively rhythmic culture, the sites of temples, smells of spices and other less appealing things. But, what I find most surprising and beautiful, and bear in mind I’ve only seen Mumbai so far, is how green the place is. Buildings are everywhere but flora bursts from every crevasse growing in brickwork and on the tops of buildings, the plants are fighting back against the urban sprawl and the activities of over 20 million individuals. Given this I’ve now got high hopes for rural India.
Mumbai has many British colonial buildings such as Victoria Station, now renamed ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus’ (there’s a popular movement to replace all British names with Indian ones) and many seem to be a graceful state of decline. It looks, from my perspective, as though casual indifference towards them has allowed plants and animals to take a foothold and the result is really beautiful. It’s as though Mumbai was recently abandoned, a place that was allowed to regenerate without the activities of people. Seeing as this is patently not the case I can only assume that India is a very fertile part of the world and living things thrive here in the most unlikely of places. Did you know there are falcons in Mumbai? I’ve seen three of them in the palm trees right outside our hosts house in Bandra West! – they look like they’re thriving too – I thought they were eagles at first.
There is however another side to Mumbai . . . to be continued tomorrow . . .