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An American in Mumbai

[Photo essay] Why Bombay's Bandstand is notoriously charming at low tide

Intimacy, extremely taboo in India, is expressed quite openly at the Bandra suburb.

 |  An American in Mumbai  |  2-minute read |   11-12-2015
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The Bandstand Promenade in the Mumbai suburb of Bandra is one of just a scant few places in Mumbai where people from all walks of life co-mingle. The 1km-stretch, flanked by the Arabian Sea to the west, is a popular destination for strollers, joggers, tourists, and young lovers seeking a little bit of privacy.

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Lending prestige to the locale are the expensive apartment buildings perched above it all, owned by some of Bollywood's top A-list actors and India's business elites. A place of contradiction, Bandstand reveals its notorious charm even more when the tides recede and Mumbai's terrestrial borders expand a few hundred meters out, reclaiming a dark, rocky landscape NASA might test their Mars rovers on.

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On December 9, 2015. My friend Raghav and I decided to visit Bandstand after lunch. I was there to take pictures but thought I wouldn't be seeing too many people out during the fierce midday sunshine. I was wrong. The place was packed with people. But not so much on the footpath.

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What became very evident were the poor families and groups occupying patches of shore, making use of the extra space not afforded to them in nearby streets and slums.

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The contrast between the leisurely groups and those trying to eke out a living was stark.

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I watched three Muslim ladies make their way down to the water with a little bit of trepidation. I had only slipped on the slick rocks minutes before this shot was taken.

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There were many young couples making use of their precious time alone together.

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While such intimacy is extremely taboo in India, in Mumbai it's expressed quite openly at Bandstand, especially when the tide is low. One could almost imagine a herd instinct at work here where couples feel altogether safe from authoritative eyes and anonymous.

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Two street kids approached me on shore and were happy to pose together. The little girl asked for candy and I couldn't help but feel bad telling her I had none. Next time, I will be prepared!

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Craig Boehman Craig Boehman @craigboehman

The writer is an American activist who lives in Mumbai.

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