A lot of my life here is spent watching people. Sometimes I am simply walking to stores around our house, sometimes riding on the back of the Vespa, and if I follow E. on business trips, often from the hotel room windows. The following was taken from our room in Mumbai. It’s pretty blah, until you know what to look at.
(1) Man selling water and soft drinks that he carries in a bucket in each hand. (2) Man fishing through the mud. (3) Man with a scale so you can weight yourself. (4) Empty plastic bottles and other trash. (5) Two men eating ice cream. (6) Beggar. (7) Women selling assorted plastic knick-knack. (8) Dog. (9) White tourist. (10) Balloonwala. (11) Man selling fruit. (12) Man selling peanuts. (13) Photographer carrying a small printer so you get your portraits on the spot. (14) Idol (trust me, it’s a framed painting of a god or idol). (15) Carriage rides.
That’s why I can spend hours looking through a window.
More often than not, I become obsessed with something I see and research the issue. It happened here with the men and kids sifting through mud, but I wasn’t very successful in finding the answer. I had seen a documentary about it on Thalassa, a French TV program a few months ago “Bombay, la cité des rêves” (“Bombay, the city of dreams”, they didn’t bother changing its name to the current one).
I think they are looking for small crabs and little fish trapped in between the rocks at low tide. If you look carefully, you’ll see that the man in the pink shirt has an gold colored statue of a god to his right. Since the idols were clean compared to the rest, I believe the fishermen brought them themselves. There is a religious festival in Mumbai where they release Ganesh statues into the sea, but those looked too new, and one was clearly neatly leaning against a rock (number 14 above).
They either dig with their hands, or use I don’t know what, wrapped into pieces of fabric held onto a string. It reminds me of the frog catching method. One has to wonder why a tattered flag from Pakistan is tossed into the sea, next to discarded pottery.
They are not rag pickers. On the bottom image, the kid was picking through mud and not interested in the clothes and fishing nets trashed around him.