A nest of scuttling, striving humanity, swarming over a destroyed landscape. Ruined slums amid stagnant marshes, crumbling towers rearing above like the monsters from War of the Worlds. Over all, a low slung sun sinks red into the toxic fog.
Yep, it’s Mumbai.
A bit negative? Sure. There’s lots to like about this place…the spicy and delicious cuisine, the long exuberant promenade on Chowpatty Beach, overlooking the soft grey glow of the Arabian sea, the way pedestrians and vehicles dance like demented dodgems, the joyous kitsch of candy floss temples, the monumental remnants of colonial oppression which, let’s face it, offer pretty much the best of Mumbai’s architecture..
And yet, everywhere, Mumbai is falling apart, decaying, overwhelmed by the assault of dirt, neglect and traffic. And everywhere it is under construction, strewn with cranes and building sites and orange vested workers (one toiling, three having a knees-up).
So will this place renew itself to become the clean green city spruiked on every second signboard…or is it just a tipping point, a canary in a mine, the first place to fall as humanity slides towards global destruction?
If Mumbai can pull itself up by its bootstraps, there’s hope for us all.