That was just the case for us on our first stop in India on our stay in the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). First, a little background on the city.
Mumbai is India’s largest city with around 60 million inhabitants: 20 million people and 40 million stray dogs, cows and rats. With over two hundred languages spoken here, you feel as if you are in the center of the world. The city is actually situated on an island overlooking the Arabian Sea and connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. It’s home to beautiful, crumbling architecture from the days of British Raj, and the frenetic cadence that makes the heart of India’s cities beat.
It was also on our taxi ride from the airport that we discovered just how lucky we were to have arrived on this day. It was March 1 and for the people of India, it was the day of one of the liveliest Hindu festivals. It was the day of Holi, the Festival of Colors.
Magic was in the air. As we drove through the slums in route to the city we saw a scene like no other. Everyone was covered in a spectacular array of bright colors. Men with pink hair, women with yellow splashes on their faces and children drowning in blues, reds, greens and purples. On every corner, small stalls sold the vibrant colored gulal powder for a few rupees to be thrown at anyone in range. It was a riot of color as people splashed and sprayed one another in this celebration of the arrival of spring.
There was not a sidewalk, a road or even a cow left untouched. Absolutely everyone was covered in color. By the time we arrived, most of the color throwing had finished up, but glimpses of the Mumbaikers decked out in all their colorful glory amidst jovial shouts of “Happy Holi” and exhubrant dancing in the streets, was quite special.
Looking back, I can’t think of a more proper introduction to our Indian adventure.