Mumbai is India’s wealthiest city. British influence has outlasted the changing of the name from Bombay to Mumbai. Strolling down the wide avenues lined with banyan trees and large ornate building it is easy to forget that you are still in India. Walking through Colaba the tourist beet of the city feels like walking through any European city that has been influenced by the orient. However the smells and sounds transport you back to the subcontinent. In the midst of modern decadence poverty is everywhere. Touts offering tours of the slums meet you on every corner. Undercover cops and legitimate pushers offer hash and every other drug out side popular tourist bars. Standing on the pristine ocean front cause way one can look one way towards the great gate of India and the other towards the deeply impoverished Colaba market. Looking down at the shore ten feet below the road tell tail piles of brightly colored plastic melds in with the mud. Children and dogs wander this shore looking for hidden treasure discarded by the rich. No where in India is the dichotomy of haves and have not so palpable as on the streets.
Haji Ali is a white mosque built to appears as though it is floating on the water just out of reach of the madness of Mumbai. The entrance path impassable at high tide is inhabited by a variety of beggars and religious pilgrims. One armed children pull on you pant legs and heart strings asking for charity. grown men similarly deformed preform together painting their bodies blue chanting and spontaneously throwing them selves to the ground in a circle inspiring religious admiration that escapes our western knowledge. The Mosque was under construction when we visited but the white marble minarets symbolize the clean beauty of faith. Upon entering the mosque women are steered to the right and men to the left. As every other religious establishment in India shoes are removed and water taps are provided to wash ones feet and hands before entering the holy interior of the building. Inside the mosque metallic tiles form a glowing mosaic at the peek of which is a giant chandelier. The light reflect off of thousands of shards of glass to create a room alive with light.
Beautiful little boy we met out side of a Ganesha (the Hindu elephant god) temple who had two different colored eyes. Before Isil i had never met some one with Heterochromia, two different colored eyes however with her I have met several people with this unique genetic manifestation. While Isil’s are a beautiful green and brown this boy’s were ice blue and brown. Both function and focus as normal eyes. In the beauty of India beliefs he is considered good luck for this difference and not scorned as he would be in many superficial western societies. I for one feel lucky to have met him.