Posted by: itsme | January 12, 2010

A Walk in Worli, Mumbai

I am staying for a few days with my cousin in Bhandup West. I have been to Mumbai many times while my dad was stationed here before his retirement. Coming to Mumbai after nearly ten years is a sort of homecoming for me. I love the eclectic mix of cultures, the fast paced life and the unique scenes of this vast city. The ear cleaner at C.S.T, the dabbawallah at Dadar, the fisherman at Dockyard Road, the laughter club of the neighbourhood, the smiles from the slums next door – these are the scenes of Mumbai.

Yesterday I took a train to C.S.T. I asked someone for directions. He ignored me completely. He didn’t even look at me. His eyes were glued to the floor as he walked almost absent-mindedly. Either he was too preoccupied or must have thought I am a beggar. This is life in Mumbai, so different from the many towns and villages I have travelled through in my journeys.

After a wonderful breakfast of pongal and chutney at my cousin’s place, I arrive by train at Parel. My map marks a spot on the Western coastline with two words – Worli Fort. I walk out of Parel train station and wait at a bus stop. I make some enquiries. I am in luck. There is a bus – route 168 – that goes to Worli. After ten minutes of waiting, I get the bus. It is not crowded. It is 11 am and past the peak hours.

‘Ticket to Worli Fort,’ I tell the bus conductor.

‘Kila vila malum nehi (I don’t know any fort),’ he shouts back. He issues me a three-rupee ticket to Worli. Where exactly in Worli, I have no idea.

I get off somewhere in Worli. A short walk takes me to the shoreline. There is no beach at Worli. The shoreline is rocky. Concrete blocks and a wall keep the sea at bay. It is a long walk. The city has changed a lot these ten years. There are more apartments and high-rise offices. Some of them are beautiful and add to the diverse architecture of Mumbai. There are a few trees along this quay. Couples take to these shades, kiss and cuddle. Behind me, one of the many skylines of the city glimmers in a haze blinded by the mid-day sun. Ahead of me, the new Bandra-Worli Sea Link spans in the distance.

I arrive at a busy junction. A path leading left narrows and winds between shops and houses. I am in surroundings that’s almost a slum. It is Worli Village. I pass a small temple of Sai Baba facing the sea. I look around in a vain hope of spotting Worli paintings. A silly thought. The buildings are all new. Any trace of old Worli is perhaps lost. Perhaps, Worli paintings never existed in this particular village.

All I can see of the old fort is a single bastion. The village has captured it on all sides. The day’s laundry is spread out on its ramparts to dry in the sun. Inside, some students read in chorus. A little church stands below and the slum is spread out before it. Fishing boats rock in the bay while in the distance skyscrapers stand tall. In this single scene is history past and present, society rich and poor. Mumbai is a place of striking contrasts.

I walk on the rocks and soon I am right below the Sea Link and looking up. I am not particularly impressed with the finishing touches on this link. Cranes still hover alongside the bridge. Lampposts are ordinary. There is nothing poetic about this Sea Link. It appears to be built from fifty-year old technologies.



  1. I was in Mumbai on the day of Uttarayan / Makarsankranti. All of a sudden a whim went past my mind that I should drive across the Worli-Bandra sea link. I forced my father to drop the idea of taking train to C.S.T. and go by taxi instead so that both of us would enjoy the ride. We had a deal that I had to pay the taxi bill and the toll charges i.e. Rs. 50/-. As u have truely said its not artistic or an architectural marvel but huge. Very gigentic. It’s size simply takes over your senses. All through the 6 Kms. drive I stuck my head out of the taxi and gazed up at the sky and at the sea around. crazy but I enjoyed it a lot!!
    If u want to really suffocate yopurself in Mumbai, u should go to Cutlary market for shopping. It’s a wholesale market and u get great deal if u want to carry gifts for your friends in large quantity. However the price u have to pay for this is…. U have to walk across narrow lane (not wider than 2 feet) inside enclosed buildings, without any air circulations. And only GOD save you if a porter comes along carrying huge cartons stuffed with all sorts of things. Be ready to get your dear head banged either against the carton of window glass of any of the shops! When u come out of the market; it feels like Columbus spotting the Bahamas!
    Eating fruit dish or a cone of dry bhel or Masala bread pakoda with delicious chutney is a treat one can enjoy only on Mumbai!

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