Waking up early, I decided I would set off before the sun reached its peak. Following advice from the lovely staff at Basti hostel I went on a 20 to 30 minute walk to the nearby beach.
School children lined up for registration outside, while their teachers spoke through a megaphone. Adults were speed walking around the local park to get in some morning exercise. Others attempted press-ups on the children’s climbing frame.
The incessantly beeping horns have gradually become a normal sound to me. Instead of looking where they all come from, I have learnt to just simply carry on my way. It is part of the driving culture in Mumbai to beep rather than signal.
I walked past a row of slums where residents stood outside brushing their teeth. Their homes were next to a stagnant waterway, littered with floating plastic bottles and rubbish.
A little while later, the entrance to the beach was apparent. Friends were playing cricket, going for walks or looking out over the ocean. The sea was calm, with only small ripple waves washing onto the sand.
I strolled along the shore. Even the beach in Mumbai feels hectic. No one was simply sitting; everyone was doing something. The beach itself is not really a place you would rest. In fact there was a man relieving himself next to the sea. Passers simply moved their gaze away from this gentleman as he did his business next to the cricket players.
After a short while I walked back to the hostel where a plan was being hatched. Water guns had been bought, plastic bottles filled and game faces were on. A couple of us went to the nearby slum to start a water fight with the kids. We gave out the water guns and before we knew it, our small hostel group was severely outnumbered.
We chased the kids like there was no tomorrow and got soaked in the process.
They even brought out their paints to cover us in colour. It is safe to say that we were the losing team.
Just as I went to say bye to them all, an entire bucket was poured over my head.
We had a blast. The entire time I couldn’t stop smiling. Residents watched and laughed as we were thrashed by their adorable children.
Walking back to the hostel, we chatted with a lady and two young girls. It struck me then that in this water fight I and another girl from the hostel were the only girls playing. In India this is the norm. I tried to think back to when I was a kid and if there was anything that my brother would do that I would not. I guess the culture is so very different here.