Pictured Above: Andheri Station

Not Pictured Above: white people

There aren’t many of them in Mumbai, so those who are there really stick out, especially outside of Colaba, and extra especially in neighborhoods far removed from train stations. So here are the stereotyped categories of white people you’ll see in Mumbai.

Tourists

These are my favorite. They can be broken down into two groups: guided and unguided.

The guided ones are usually middle-aged British couples who have hired overpriced tour guides to show them around the city. I talked to one such couple at a restaurant in Mumbai and another two couples on the train out of Mumbai. They’re in the city for just the day, maybe overnight, before moving on to less hectic pastures.

The unguided ones seem to look like they’re about to explode or melt into little stress piles in the middle of the rush hour onslaught. One in particular stands out in my mind: I saw two big ladies outside of Andheri station get out of a taxi with almost pained looks of overstimulation on their faces. All the obvious signs of tourists: hats too big, clothes too new, mannerisms too out of place. They proceeded to herd themselves over to the sidewalk where they immediately parked themselves in the worst possible place right outside the main outlet from the station to the street and proceeded to be energetically stampeeded as commuters threaded their way around them. With pained looks they clamped their hands over their ears to muffle the literally constant symphony of horns outside the station and made their way to a less-insanely crowded area of the sidwalk, where they were immediately pitched by the tuk-tuk drivers to be whisked away anywhere their little overwhelmed hearts desired.

Backpackers

I saw more backpackers than any other group of white people in Mumbai. That’s not to say the place is crawling with them – it’s not – but they’re definitely there. On a given day that I was on the street from late morning to early evening I would pass at least one or two backpackers. Not at all social – am I imagining this, or is it a Mumbai thing, or a city thing, or am I ugly or what? Can an experienced backpacker chime in here? I tried to make at least some kind of contact with every backpacker that I passed on the street, either eye contact, a nod of the head, a ‘hello’, whatever the mood called for, and almost all of them either barely nodded back as if to say ‘not interested in talking to you bro’, or looked the other way or didn’t even acknowledge my signal that we recognize one another. Weird.

Executives

They basically look like a bunch of agents from the Matrix. I can only account for two sightings, both in Colaba.

Hippies

I saw two or three hippie chicks wandering around Mumbai barefoot with washed out dresses and tank tops. Maybe they’re actually backpackers who left their gear in the hostel before they stepped out to smoke a joint and wander the streets. I don’t know. In any case, Mumbai is not the ideal place to be a hippie. Go to Hampi or Goa or Darjeeling or Kashmir or something.

Random dudes who may have lost their way at some point

I saw a guy walking the train tracks in the middle of the day, weaving and wandering, looked a bit out of his head. I saw another guy walking down the street, looked pretty much like a bum on the streets of any given American city. Saw another guy sleeping on the side of the sidewalk, like you do.

Families

Only saw one, it was a white lady with an Indian husband and a little toddler girl at the beach. Cute 😀

 

Not spotted but I’m sure present: journalists and media types

Any Mumbai readers out there, please let me know if I am missing any others for lack of exposure.