Mumbai

Formerly Bombay, Mumbai is the commercial capital of India.
Woman selling strings of marigolds for Diwali. Woman selling strings of marigolds for Diwali. Sugar cane juice stand, Mumbai. Sugar cane juice stand, Mumbai. A common street stall, these guys run sugar cane (which is what is on top of/leaning against the stall) through a press, producing a sweet green juice that is quite tasty. One of the reasons that I really like Mumbai is the long drooping banyan and acacia trees that line the streets, making some street corners, like this one, seem like they are in deep jungle.
Acacia tree, Mumbai. Acacia tree, Mumbai. Man driving an oxcart through the early morning streets of Mumbai. Man driving an oxcart through the early morning streets of Mumbai.
Boys lighting crackers near Marine Lines All along Marine Drive, which seemed to be lined mostly with fashionable sari shops, was the best place that I found to see people lighting crackers (Indian English, like British English, has its own vocabulary; fireworks are always called "crackers"). Two boys here light their crackers on Maharshi Karve Road. Crackers going off in a long chain near Marine lines. There were spark fountains, ones that spun like tops, and bottle rockets, but the predominant form of cracker seemed to be the "just plain bang" variety. These came either singly, like shotgun blasts, or in long chains of several thousand like this that throw up a large cloud of gray sulphurous smoke and make a riotous noise akin to an assault rifle. The overall sound from my hotel room, until at least two in the morning, was like late-eighties Lebanon.
A boy looks at the smouldering ruins of crackers that he lit. Here a boy looks at the smouldering ruins remaining from his long chain of crackers. Boy with sparklers for Diwali. Here a young boy and his father are holding sparklers in celebration of Diwali. There weren't any centralized, government sponsored fireworks (surprising, considering how many other things the government gets its fingers into); people light their own. The wealthy have clubs -- like country clubs, without the golf course -- that hold large displays.
Boy with sparklers for Diwali. More of the same sparkling fellow... Boy with sparklers for Diwali. And one with a smile.
The gateway to India. Obligatory shot of the Gateway of India, which is next to the Taj Mahal hotel in Colaba. I stopped by just because I was supposed to, but the hawkers are profuse and draining; I never realized that it could take so much effort to ignore people. I clicked two stock pictures and hurried away. The Taj Mahal Hotel. The Taj Mahal Hotel.
Man selling Bananas in Colaba, Mumbai. Man selling Bananas in Colaba, Mumbai. Cow wandering in the Colaba Market. The Colaba Market is in Southern Mumbai, what the guidebook calls a "suburb" of Mumbai, but it's anything if suburban. People hawk wares right and left; this particular marketplace is somewhat away from the main tourist circuit and mostly sells fruits and vegetables.
Small temple to Hindu god. Hindu temples come in all shapes and sizes; about every mile or so there is another small one like this, usually with a gate around the outside of it. Sometimes there is a pujari inside, but more often they just have a box for donations. The marigolds, as you see here, are everywhere for Diwali, the festival of lights; sold on most street corners, they adorn taxis, businesses, and temples. Street stall selling pan. This is pan, a digestive usually with betel nut and niv leaves. I actually didn't take one, althogh the guy manning the internet booth here tells me I really need to try one soon ("ask for a cold one").
Bademiya, the mother of all street stalls. I haven't actually had the nerve to go to most street stalls to buy food -- cleanliness is often suspect, and a meal at a "good" restaurant costs about as much as a King-Size Snickers in the United States. Bademiya is a really big food seller, however, and seemed to have more upmarket clientele. I got a Paneer masala roll and aloo tiki (which was really a potato kebab, instead of the deep-fried I've been used to in Berkeley). Diwali celebration This was a streetside Diwali celebration; the men sitting down were singing and playing instruments, there was a large animatronic Laxmi and Vishnu. There was a lot of seating, and many people were watching, but little in the way of actual pujas (prayers) going on while I was there. As with everywhere on Diwali night, there were firecrackers going off like shotgun blasts left and right.
Diwali decorated booth. I'm emarrassed to say that I don't actually know what this is; I think that they were selling some kind of food, but there also didn't really seem to be attending it, so it might just be a Hindu devotion laid out on the streetside.