I am travelling through a territory where I never have been before. Now it’s 11:47pm in Mumbai, there is a gap of 5:30 hours between the UK and here; and a gap of 8:30 hours in relationship to Brazil. We will arrive at 6:20am.
It’s almost midnight, maybe later. Seven days have passed and this is my last night in Mumbai. I am in the hotel room and for the first time I am by myself. I am naked, in all senses.
From the window I can see the sea, but there’s so many things to see that without focus, even the horizon can be unnoticed.
This whole experience was learning about fellowship.
While here I wandered in a pack. With exception of the night when I couldn’t sleep. That night I went out trying to find somewhere to buy herbal tea to help me to sleep.
Many people sleep on the streets during the day. I imagine they are taking a nap, just resting to recover energy. They occupy all sorts of spaces, and any object can be transformed into furniture, something to lean on. The first day in Mumbai we woke up really early and went out for a wander. The sunlight didn’t brighten the way yet, but a few people were starting to create movement in the city. I observed the improvised street furniture, waiting for use. Stumps and broken pieces were composing the public space; being adapted to compensate for the lack of infrastructure of places to sit and rest in the city.
Everywhere you notice people’s gestures and a careful maintenance of the place. Long dry leaves tied up on one side are used as a broom. People clean their spaces before starting the day. There is another idea of ownership.
Here I feel that the public space is democratic. Open to everyone. Pieces of plastic and canvas are tied to bamboo rods and around trees on the pavement. They create environments that dissolve the idea of public and private space.
Gustavo S Ferro, image of a shrine installed around a tree in Mumbai, 2018.
Walking on the streets I am permanently on alert. Noise announces the presence of every individual and vehicles that agglutinate to form a mass of chaos and movement. It’s an order misunderstood by foreign eyes. As stressful as the city may be, the locals do not lose their kindness. Guys hold each other’s hands in a subtle touch, as an attempt not to be alone… in the ZUM ZUM ZUM of people and goats and cars and cows that pass by the crossroads.
Holy cow stroked gently by a woman. I still in cultural shock when I face the animal coping with the urban fabric.
For the first three days all of it was so intense that I have only just started to process the facts now. My body is vibrating and gets sweaty with the damp that hit my organs. I feel at home with this weather, I don’t want this feeling to go away.
RWA RWA RWA !
7:15am I awoke and jumped up from the bed very confused with what was going on. I had left the window open and a crow managed to get inside my room. I got the impression he did it on purpose. I see a lot of birds in the sky. The palm trees just in front of me make me think about Brazil.
My luggage was ready, I had just finished packing it and I heard it again:
RWA RWA RWA !
He was looking at me from the window like he was saying goodbye.
This text is a fragment of reflexions originally written in Portuguese in my travel journal titled ‘Railway IX’.