Have you ever been somewhere and just thought bloody hell I could be in [insert other place name here]?!
I get that feeling all the time.
I’ll be on a drive somewhere in Wales (or rather, I’ll be in the passenger seat while somebody else does the driving in Wales), look out the window and think just how much the place looks like some random village I once stayed at in the middle of Uzbekistan or something. Except I’ve never been to Uzbekistan, but that just seemed like the perfect country to use as an example to demonstrate just how random these places that seem so similar are.
Normally there’s no logical reason why one place reminds me of the other.
If you’re familiar with Cardiff, you’ll know of the little row of businesses to the left as you drive into town over the flyover. There’s a piano tuners (I think!), an estate agent and an Indian street food takeaway amongst others. Anyway, for some reason every time I walk past there (because I don’t drive...) it reminds me of Puerto Ordaz, the little town-city thing I had to go to in Venezuela before visiting Angel Falls. More specifically, it reminds of the little row of businesses headed by Subway (the sandwich shop, not the transport thingy) at the top of Puerto Ordaz with a ramp in front of it. To be honest I didn’t realise that particular Subway had had such a profound impression on me!
More often than not it’s just a case of “Oh this reminds me so much of X Y or Z” but what I actually mean is “hmm, this is quite similar to this other place if you squint your eyes, tilt to one side and stand on your head” but when it comes to Mumbai?! Oh my days, it’s a whole other level of similarities.
I decided to stop in Mumbai for 2 days on my way back to Kerala from Udaipur.
I’ve actually been to Mumbai before: back in 2012 when I first visited India I spent the best part of a week and a half staying with a friend’s family in the city. Although as I’ve more recently come to understand by my many Indian friends who laugh out loud when I tell them where I stayed, Borivali doesn’t count as real Mumbai.
So apparently what I actually did back then was stay in the middle of “real Mumbai“, one of the very boring parts where regular people just live and go about their daily lives. In hindsight it explains a lot. It explains why my stay in Mumbai consisted of daily walks to the park with my friend’s parents who spoke no English, being patted on the head repeatedly by strangers like I was some kind of lucky Buddha, and one meagre visit to ‘the beach’ which anyone who’s been to Mumbai knows is not a beach. All in all during my nine days in Mumbai I saw a temple, a lot of cows and a monkey on a leash. Not exactly what Mumbai is known for. It explains why to me Mumbai just looked like India and not this strange British/Indian concoction I’d been led to believe it was.
But this time round?!
Well, this time I made sure to book my stay at a hotel smack bang around the corner from Mumbai CST (the train station which is one of the things to see when in town apparently) to give myself ease of access to
McDonald’s all the main tourist sites. And man, did it pay off! That heavy British influence I’d heard about, left over from the time we ruled the country (again, sorry ’bout that guys) is clearly evident every direction you look.
Ignoring the millions of very much not British people milling around and concentrating on just the architecture, the structure of things and the general ambience of the city, I could have been in London.
It was surreal.
And when I say London I of course mean any old city in the UK because they all kind of look the same really.
At one point I walked past a school and it was like an actual carbon copy of my old primary school. Except bigger. Because everything in India is bigger.
I didn’t manage to take many photos because to be honest I spent the whole time eating Baskin & Robbins and trying to find soap that didn’t claim to whiten your skin, but just keep on scrolling for a nosy at the ones I did take…
Seriously, how British does this place look?!
By the way, the title of this post is a direct quote from an English friend of mine who text me that on arriving in Mumbai for the first time. It made me laugh. The end.