What do you expect from a city that is claimed to be one of the ugliest of the world?
As someone who enjoys the tragedy in art, the destruction of beauty and the slow ageing of buildings we were eager to find out ourselves. And now, as we just have finished our short trip to Mumbai, we have to admit, it is not as bad as everyone is saying. Mumbai is a composition of diversity with a spicy taste, all put together on small space. Maybe because of that exact reason we enjoyed our visit so much.
Old buildings & crows
Imagine buildings that look like the Hogwarts school covered in dust. Add to that dense smog, busy traffic of tuk tuk, new cars and old british buses. Imagine continuous honking cars, fumes from food stands each two metres, and all odours your brain knows. Imagine big trees with lianas touching the ground which are home to thousands of crows. Kraa Kraa!
Because what pigeons are to many European cities, are crows to Mumbai. They are everywhere. Although sometimes you cannot see them, but be sure, you will always hear them. Kraa Kraa! Those who know the Hitchcock movie `Birds´, probably understand that every `kraa kraa´ gave us goose bumps. According to our tour guide, who was showing us the third biggest slum of the world, the dhavari slum, the high population of crows in Mumbai is a result of the tower of silence, a (former) resting place for dead bodies. Their screaming was a penetrant reminder that death is all around. Could this be the main inspiration for the birds movie?
Besides crows all around, you can find food all around in Mumbai, which is definitely more interesting :).
Street food in Mumbai
Samosa – 10 ₹
Yes, street food is all around, all day long. In the Morning you will find a lot of food stands selling potato samosas with chilli spiced sauces and green chilli apart. All is eaten by hand and wrapped in old newspapers.
Don’t worry about your health. All of the street food is made fresh in front of you. Most of these shops are handled by two people. One is doing your food and the other one is handling the money and assists the cooker.
Chai – 5-10 ₹
The loud streets of Mumbai can be very exhausting. So it is good that late in the morning, the chai makers start their business. A classic Mumbai chai contains black tea, milk and a lot of sugar. It is always served super hot. This kills all bacteria. Which is important since the chai cups are normally only washed in the same big water bucket all day long. The black tea caffeine will sharpen your mind and the huge amount of sugar will give you some energy for at least the next hours.
Egg dishes – 30 ₹
Late in the day, the omelette makers start their job. They pop up everywhere and leave as soon they have no more eggs to sell. We loved these guys because they are super friendly and didn´t try to sell us the food for high tourist prices. At least that´s what we thought ;).
You have the choice between vegetable scrambled eggs and classic omelette. For the scrambled egg version, they fry a lot of onions together with some tomatoes and spice it up with coriander, chilli masala powder and turmeric. Then they add the eggs and serve all together with two pieces of bread.
Or they simply make you a classic omelette with a lot of green chilli and serve it like a German Kebap in two pieces of bread.
Semolina – 20 ₹
A bit rare to see but also very exciting for a pastry chef was the semolina joint.
They were starting at lunchtime and cooking a very sweet and red semolina paste. The color comes from the saffron and it is spiced with a lot of cardamon. Usually they serve it with fried pieces of bread.
What comes next?
Until now, India is just overwhelming and full of new impressions and new tastes. People are extremely hospital and eager to getting to know you, so are we. Also our taste buds have been challenged quite often and we are looking forward to find out what else is out there!