“Mumbai Is Like London On Acid”

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…

mumbai3 mumbai1 mumbai2 mumbai6 mumbai4 mumbai5


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.

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17 Comments

  1. 10th March 2017 / 3:08 pm

    I totally get what you mean! It’s a wonderful place and chaotic at time! And the Indian food- heavenly!

    I find so many places remind me of Cape Town- just little parts like certain roads or rows of houses or the sea air and cafes!

    • rhiydwi
      11th March 2017 / 1:36 pm

      It’s so weird how the randomest of places remind you of somewhere on the complete opposite side of the world!

  2. 10th March 2017 / 4:33 pm

    Hahaha!!! I am just laughing reading your post. I’ve lived a portion of my life in Mumbai and its a city I love. You’re totally right, its a city with too much British influence still existing! Most of the colonial (yes, we call it so, as we were your colony, once! Lolz ) structures are still intact and are very much in use as office & public buildings!

    • rhiydwi
      11th March 2017 / 1:40 pm

      It was so surreal being there! Like I was in the twilight zone or something. There was one cluster of buildings which were courts or some sort of legal admin buildings and it was like being just at home.

  3. 11th March 2017 / 6:07 am

    It is not surprising considering that it was once a British colony. For sure, they had influences in the architecture and some aspects of life in Mumbai and all of India. But I agree – those photos looked like they were taken from London indeed!

  4. 11th March 2017 / 7:53 am

    I love Mumbai..its been home for 12 years…and now that I have moved to Ahmedabad…I miss it even more!

    • rhiydwi
      11th March 2017 / 1:39 pm

      Aww, that’s lovely that you love it so much to miss it! It sure would be a great place to call home.

  5. 11th March 2017 / 10:22 am

    I never got excited when in India and the city had a McDonald’s. I’d never order a Chicken Nugget or Chicken Sandwich meal before finishing off with a hot fudge sundae either. You got some great photos of Mumbai, there’s probably a Queen Victoria statue somewhere in the city too! The photos you took do look they could be in London.

    • rhiydwi
      11th March 2017 / 1:38 pm

      Hahaha, do I sense a little sarcasm there? I love Indian McDonald’s because their veggie option is so much more impressive than the UK!
      You’re right, there probably is! I didn’t have enough time to venture out further than the very centre but maybe next time I’ll hunt down a statue 🙂

  6. 11th March 2017 / 3:51 pm

    Me being a Mumbaikar for a larger part of my life can totally relate to what you have written and experienced. You have got some amazing shots of CST- it certainly looks like one of the British architectural wonder.

    • rhiydwi
      13th March 2017 / 2:33 pm

      I didn’t know Mumbaikar was the term used! Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. Jean
    13th March 2017 / 4:00 am

    Love it. The title alone really does explain what Mumbai is like. Flicking through your photos I really did think that I was somewhere in London. Even if there are millions of very non-Brittish people walking around in your photos!

    • rhiydwi
      13th March 2017 / 2:50 pm

      It’s totally bizarre! It’s the most London-like place I’ve ever been to outside of London.

  8. 13th March 2017 / 7:28 am

    Ahahaha I can’t stop laughing! Absolutely loved your post! And I can’t wait to visit Mumbai now 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      13th March 2017 / 2:49 pm

      Thank you Andrea! I’m glad to have entertained 🙂

  9. 14th March 2017 / 3:51 pm

    Yup, so true Mumbai looks like the old UK and the architecture is highly influenced. Loved reading your post. I was staying in Mumbai for 2 years. Next time, plan a visit to Kolkatta 🙂

  10. 17th March 2017 / 5:25 am

    Great bit of writing here. And great title and photos.
    Having been to Mumbai I would agree that it looks so British. I had a fab time there and would really recommend the slum tour there. It is amazing all the businesses which goes on in the slum and the money you give goes directly into helping build health centres and schools there.

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