The Flâneur on an Urban Safari
It’s dry in Mumbai and as such a season of flânerie, of the urban pastime of strolling around and be liberated. The humidity and heat of the Mumbai Monsoon are gone some time now; the dry weather and lower temperatures are here. The late-afternoon sun throws its shadows in the city’s narrow streets, hidden parks and bath everything in dazzling light. The streets belong to the walkers again. It belongs to me, walking, no map in hand and no fixed destination in mind.
Mumbai can be a city of visual delights. You can walk for hours, most probably for days. A city surrounded by the sea on most sights it is a hard place to get lost, at least for long.
Wandering the streets and recording everyday customs and traditions from all classes: from street vendors, artists, to celebrities and foreigners like Charles Baudelaire a passionate wanderer-spectator himself.
Baudelaire wrote: “The crowd is his habitat, as air is for the bird or water for the fish. His passion and his profession are to wed the crowd.”
I have chosen flânerie as my inspirational theme this year. Meandering through and over spaces of dreams and fantasies in an Alice in Wonderland spirit over markets, parks and into crowded alleys.
One rule to flânerie is - don’t rush. No reason to be caught in a constant battle to get somewhere quickly and impatient like hapless tourists. Try to get swept away by the spirit, the feeling, the giddiness of aimless strolling and discovering and experiencing all around you.
Revel in the sounds: the shutters of the shops, the frenzy of the traffic noise, the shouts of the vendors throughout the day.
Just have fun!