What 24 Hour Mumbai No Sleep Taught Me
24-hour photographic project in Mumbai. Where to go? What to capture? What to do? This city — seen from Colaba to Dahisar on the west, from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Mulund and Mankhurd on the east. So many choices, so many ideas.
Having such an overabundance of options can be a hindrance. It is at least overwhelming and leaves you unsure of where to start. Thinking of the old mantra that inflicting restrictions on yourself is a great way and an excellent method to develop your craft and to be more creative, I decided to do just this. What way to go thinking of different ways to work creatively.
Mumbai is a city, living - both metaphorically and literally - on edge, . But for all the stress, Mumbaikars also have tiny pockets in the city where they can let off steam, and one of them is the stretch called "The Queens necklace.".
To start my photographic 24 hour Mumbai darshan (a Sanskrit term for visual contact with the divine), I prepared a steaming hot cup of chai (tea) and a hearty breakfast before walking out to best the gods of photography.
My restrictions in taking a camera, one lens and restricting my endeavor on a stretch between Nariman Point and Chowpatty was made, and the fun could start. I have been out in Mumbai at night before, but never around Marine Drive at this odd hours. I started my project just at midnight. I knew that there would still be a crowd at the quays sitting, chatting and having fun. I wasn't disappointed and captured some lovely portraits.
So far so good. It turned to 1 am, and suddenly the police arrived, beckoning in uncertain tones everyone to disperse and no sitting allowed at the quay. Hmm, nearly everyone left. I got company, some that got me an uneasy feeling, talking about religion, some very drunken, some offering this and that (which I wouldn't like to be caught at with police around).
All fine with creativity and restrictions but not if health is involved. Should I go somewhere else or what? Eventually, I got another portrait. Not what I was looking for, but it had to be it. My decision was made. Restriction in the area wouldn't change. In the end, I'm especially not very happy with the images I got in this wee hours, but I reckon it should get better. There is only a slight chance to get 24 great images in 24 hours. Sometimes you have to go for days until you get one good. So nothing to complain about too much.
In between four to five am I got weary. What tired already? Indians revive themselves with tea - a great treat for me as well.
Did you ever question what it takes to deliver your newspaper or milk packet at your doorstep, right on time? As most of us are fast asleep, there are people for whom the day starts way earlier than it starts for most of us.
Mumbai is a frenetic city and never fully slows down. It is a human reality, hot and humid most of the year. And hot and humid it starts to be. Marine Drive can show you all the promises of dreams and romance. Love birds sitting at the quay, kissing and first meetings, then its mood might shift, and you tumble from love to heartbroken to anger. You can see and find tragedy and triumph, groups of people sticking together in their unique way and custom.
Still I know, if I don't get all the images I am looking and searching for, I can console myself.