Welcome back to the 2nd part of my blog of street photography highlights from my destination wedding in India late last year!
If you missed part 1, check it out here.
So just to recap, last November I was lucky enough to be invited by an ace couple to join them in India to photograph their big day in Mumbai (AKA: “Bombay”) & Goa. They’re both Indian, but currently live in London and attended a wedding I photographed there, which is how they heard about me. When it came to booking flights, I decided to head out a few days early to spend a bit of time pottering around Mumbai, and it was a simply amazing experience.
Interchangeably known by its old colonial name Bombay & new Indian moniker Mumbai, it’s surprisingly not a vastly popular destination for international tourism. Though it’s actually a wonderfully charming island packed with history, and Indian’s flock here year round, especially when the cricket’s on (which it was while I was there).
Anyways, in part 1 you’ll have heard me wax lyrical about how it felt to revisit India again after a 15 year gap, and how it still essentially still sports that same entertaining Eastern elixir of chaos, cars & and cows, up in your grill, day & night… so lets get onto the second half of my visit:
Late one afternoon I took a beaten up cab across town to the imposing Gateway of India, a monument overlooking the Arabian sea, built during the British Raj.
Click here for an impressive image of the Raj guard all lined up in front of it back in the day!
It’s the city’s top tourist attraction and I was as amused as my subjects doing a spot of candid street photography there
It faces the imposing Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, and both have sadly been targets of terrorist explosions and gunfire in recent years.
I’d planned to shoot some night markets around the area, and was packing the 50 & 35mm primes so I could soak up plenty of light as I roamed the streets
This is the palm leaf / betel nut mild intoxicant combo many locals chew, which turns their teeth red and makes them hack red flob all over the streets.
I tried it once. It’s rank
Loving this monster manual sugar cane press for sugar cane juice.
At one stage I’d wandered way off track looking for a food market and wandered in the direction of what appeared to be a roadblock, and it turned out to be an impromptu festival. I couldn’t tell you who it was for, but throwing red paint powder around, had the flavour of a Holi festival – a hindu carnival of colour.
Everyone seemed to be having a reet ol’time dancing to the drums…
…and giving offerings of money & for some reason coca cola
Fireworks were being set off and all sorts of craziness.
Sometimes it’s good to get lost, you never know what you might find!
Afterwards, I wandered back, really enjoying capturing a flavour of all the goings on on the streets of Bombay
I finally found that street market!
Then I caught a can home, capturing light trails as a bemused motor cyclist & his girlfriend looked on
The next day I decided to hit a few museums and the Mumbai Zoo. It wasn’t a particularly interesting zoo (more cages than content), but there were entertaining signs everywhere (in English) about the power and beauty of nature…
Love this one
Again, it was such a delight to find pretty much everyone I gestured to, happy to let me take their photograph
This kid on the left above was hilarious. Happily climbing up he suddenly saw where he’d got to and FREAKED OUT!
Possibly not something to laugh at, but it’s such a universal emotion, whatever culture you’re from
As is the enjoyment of a slide!
In the same Victoria Gardens as the zoo is the Victoria and Albert Museum (now renamed Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum), which while pretty uninteresting in content was in a wonderfully restored, imposing Raj Building
Then it was lunchtime so I wandered the street stalls looking for something to eat. Mumbai is famous for these street stands, generally selling fried vegetarian, lightly spiced potato shapes & crunchy Bhelpuri (little bite sized puffed crisps, broken open with the thumb and filled with liquid and dhal).
This guy was probably my favourite portrait of the entire time. Look at that expression! Wow. What a character, beautifully seperated from the blue background.
I asked if he was cool with it and he smiled as he gestured it to be fine, then turned on this serious face. I could’t get him to smile, and perhaps for good reason. He looked pretty poor, and though he didn’t ask for any money for the picture, I felt perhaps I should offer. And when I did, he didn’t even want any.
It’s a funny ol’ place, India.
Over the road and under the flyover I thought I’d catch a train
Just outside the station were a bunch of muslims setting up a free food operation where they gave out various things, including a bright green chilled liquid, to anyone who wanted any. They seemed interested in me and tried to offer me some, but I’d seen the hulk of ice they’d ice picked into chips that went in it, so thought my guts wouldn’t thank me!
I hopped on a train in the direction of the main CST station (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) where the grand, St Pancras style station hums with life
Check it out! It’s like parts of London…
…but surrounded by chaos!
Wandering down the main street from the CST you pass some of the ancient Raj relics of glory days gone by, some in better knick than others…
It’s a short walk to the Fort campus of the University of Mumbai, where there’s a huge field, packed with young Indians playing cricket and football
They don’t like cricket. THEY LOVE IT
On the last free day, I got up early and took a boat to Elephanta Island, one of the many islands in the Mumbai harbour area
Again I seemed to be one of not so many foreign tourists, and the subject of much interest
Though very little interests the sacred cows in India – particularly health and safety
Beware of the gammer nazis
The reason to visit Elephanta Island is to see the caves, hewn into the rock.
It was so called, because 17th century Portuguese explorers saw a monolithic basalt sculpture of an elephant found here near the entrance (now at the V&A Museum).
The caves are really quite impressive tomb raider type affairs!
Sadly much of the cave’s ornate detail was heavily vandalised during Portuguese rule, when they attempted to turn the country catholic. Much of the ornate carving detail in the caves were damaged, and even the bottoms of columns removed to try and bring down the caves, but they continued to stand! (You can see the colour change where concrete bases were replaced beneath for support!)
Fortunately, much of the ornate carvings of the stories of hindu gods still remains
the present name Elephanta, was given by 17th century Portuguese explorers, after seeing a monolithic basalt sculpture of an elephant found here near the entrance.
This three headed shiva is one of the most famous of the island
These cheeky monkeys have a penchant for stealing kids lollypops!
Then I caught the last ferry back to Mumbai island, to relax before the big day!
Ace eh? I thoroughly recommend visiting Mumbai, and going off the beaten track and just soaking up the bustling streets. It’s such a heady cocktail of a city.
Up in the next few weeks will be the highlights of the Indian wedding, which again was a pretty magical experience…
Stay tuned and thanks as ever for reading!