India: At the Elco Market in Mumbai

Before I flew to Mumbai, I saw a pretty good movie at home with Daniel Brühl called“The Coming Days“. And aside from the heartbreaking love story, this dystopia was about the breakdown of law and order, sometime in the not-so-distant future: political activists terrorize the country, Germany is embroiled in bizarre wars, and the population lives in poverty, chaos, fear, and terror. Total doomsday mood, then. And although the film was really impressive, it was clearly fiction for me. Impossible that our – my – world can ever look like this.

fruit seller in mumbai india

But then I came to Mumbai. My very first time ever in India. In my private life, I have always shied away from India a bit. Even though I would love to see the Taj Mahal live. Or sitting by the Ganges in Varanasi. Nevertheless, my thirst for adventure always stopped at India. I was too shocked by the stories of assaulted women in the media, but also by experiences of friends and acquaintances. I was still curious.

street corner in mumbai

Off to Mumbai!

And so it came just in time for me when Mumbai was on my roster. In the service, you’re always very organized and packed in absorbent cotton – a circumstance that sometimes irritates me, because you feel like you’re in a golden cage: our hotels are luxurious, and outside the door, depending on the destination, the really tough life is raging. But in India, I was very fond of it. I had too much respect for the Indian way of life.

Already during the drive to the hotel I thought of the movie I had seen: Right and left of the highway corrugated iron huts, dirt, garbage, dust, stench. And people, so many people who lived in it! Where was the colorful India I had heard so much about?

Unfortunately, the outbound flight was pretty exhausting, and I was again too knackered for any major sightseeing action. Must be the age. Crap. I wanted to see a bit of India after all. At least I made it to one market.

playing kittens in india

Market in Mumbai: ELCO Market

A wild tuktuk ride later, we were at ELCO Market on Hill Road in Bandra. And here were finally the colors I was looking for! Spices, clothes, food… and that at tropical 34 degrees. This is how I had imagined it. I was at home.

vegetable seller at elco market in bombay india
woman selling fruit on the street mumbai india

There were fruits, vegetables, knickknacks – and a spice vendor who mixed curry powder to order with religious devotion.

saint images in india
bags of food at market in bombay

I drank fresh sugar cane juice, thought of my second home Brazil and ate vegetarian delicacies of which I did not even know the name, but which celebrated a raging carnival on my taste buds. I slowly came to understand why there are people who love India.

sugar cane press in india

Nevertheless, I couldn’t get the film out of my head. For me, it may be an abstruse vision of the future that all order in the state will collapse, but the apocalyptic mood in Mumbai was real. Mothers sit on the side of the road with their newborns, homeless, in the middle of the dirt of the street. People who don’t seem to own much more than the clothes on their bodies. Houses that look like ruins, but are still inhabited. And I bet we didn’t even see the really bad areas.

Less than 24 hours later, I was sitting at home again. In tranquil Berlin-Neukölln. Which everyone always says is so bad there. So messy. So dirty.

But they have all not been to India yet.


Hey there! I created The Happy Jetlagger in 2015 to gather all those lovely places I got to know during my trips. Working many years as a flight attendant, I finally found a way to share my travel experience. Hope you enjoy it!

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