We left Heathrow Terminal 5 on Monday evening, and spent the night on the plane, arriving in Mumbai nearly 9 hours later at 11:15 the following day. When we walked out of the airport, the heat and humidity were the first things that struck me, and my clothes stuck to my body instantly. Although I wasn’t expecting it, I think I experienced a slight culture shock as we were driven from the airport to our hotel in the Fort area of Mumbai. Seeing the traffic madly zipping past, and watching the people on the side of the road, I began to wonder why I had let myself come back to India! The poverty is always overwhelming here, and it’s shocking to realise that so many people in this country live on so little. It makes you feel lucky, but also a little guilty.
When we got to the hotel, we had a rest and a snooze to catch up on some lost sleep, and then we went out with the goal of getting to the seafront to see if we could catch some good views and get our bearings. After following the map in Lonely Planet, and getting slightly lost, we eventually found our way there. The sun was beginning to set behind the city skyline, creating a gorgeous scene to greet us. Thousands of people were out sitting in the sun, jogging, or walking along the seafront and enjoying the cooler weather of the early evening.
Walking back to the hotel, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t being hassled too much to buy things or to give money to beggars. Only a couple of beggars came up to me all day, and most shopkeepers said hello rather than try to hawk their wares on me straight away. This is in stark contrast to Delhi – the hassle capital of India. Despite my initial misgivings I think I’m going to enjoy Mumbai – it’s beautiful, friendly and overwhelming, all at the same time.