india: day 6: train to mumbai & my first day in mumbai

so many cute kids on the train!

my travel buddies. they read my english/hindi phrase book and we talked most of the way. by the end of the trip i shared this compartment with about 15 people.

biffed it really hard getting on the train. the thing about india is that everybody stares at foreignors so i had no shortage of help as they pulled me back up to the platform from below the train. sucked.

this scene happened about once every 15 minutes.

the most unbelievable array of foods, drinks, toys and crafts passed by in a steady stream the entire trip.

people sitting everywhere….

the friendly kitchen staff.

some passengers ride for free: orphans, vendors, beggars and thieves.

sitting between cars is a good way to avoid buying a ticket.

this guy is just trying to sweep the floor for everybody. nobody makes his job easy.

sleeper class is definitely the way to travel in india. by far the best decision i have made in india.

mumbai central

pooja to the linga

the people here are amazing.

holy bath in the ganga tank.

symbolic drinking of ganga water.

the ganga tank. as the story goes, rama was thirsty so he shot an arrow into the earth. from the hole came the underground ganga water. it is one of the holiest places in mumbai. the arrow remains in the center of the tank in the form of a giant pole of wood.

kids love to climb the arrow and jump off! looked like a lot fun.

the buildings surrounding the tank are part of the same village. it is amazing to see the ancient culture holding on tight in a city undergoing such rapid modernization.

the people use the ganga water for everything from bathing to drinking to cooking to playing.

mumbai is directly on the ocean. the waves crash directly below people homes. the ocean is also a very popular spot to “pop a squat”.

this man had painted his face with grease so dark it looked blue.

my trusty guide. kishore kharre. he is very dedicated to showing me the best and worst of mumbai. he is a character in gregory david roberts’s book shantaram. his brother was prabaker.

crazy rain! it doesn’t stop anybody from getting where they’re going.

a determined old man.

a very common sight driving through mumbai.

kishore’s noble steed.

beef chili fry might be my new favorite thing to eat.

outside the internet business center.

sweet paan. a sweet leaf acts as a pallette for a variety of sweet fillings. then you shove it in your mouth and chew. so good!

~ by jacobbmurphy on September 10, 2010.

163 Responses to “india: day 6: train to mumbai & my first day in mumbai”

  1. These are amazing!

  2. this is the most captivating post I have read in the longest while. I actually learnt something new from this.

  3. Superlative lens work. Hats off to you for travelling sleeper class. Thats really the majority of India. Feels wonderful to have someone come down and report us as we are – warts and all, and see the beauty within.

  4. Viewed all the images. A different and positive perspective altogether. People from western countries always feel appaled at the living conditions in India. There is a third world within within a third world.
    People have learnt to find their way through the chaos and are very optimstic. Gods help!

  5. Thanks for taking me on your trip through your fabulous imaagery!

  6. Kishore Kharre is the father of Prabhakar Kharre and not his brother.
    The pictures are very reminiscent of Shantaram,the novel.

  7. Wow…this looks like it was an amazing journey! Appreciate that you’ve shared your story and photos…

  8. Wow. Every photo – just, wow.

  9. Beautiful photos (minus the man with the greasy face; I found that a bit scary). What a wonderful opportunity; thanks for sharing with the world.

  10. these photos are amazing! you make me want travel to india 🙂

  11. wow. Thats amazing.

  12. captured mumbai in your blog. nice.

  13. Wow, this was amazing. You took some great pictures. It’s so interesting to get a look at other countrys’ cultures and ways of life. Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!

  14. Man, I really want to go to India. Beautiful and intense. Sometimes when I see these photo essays I want to know more about the photographer. But they are always behind the lens and many are rarely in front of them!


  15. Beautiful photographs. I am amused to see that the things we overlook daily are the ones that amazed you. But I am glad to know that you will be taking good memories back from my country. 🙂

    P.S. And I have never ever travelled sleeper class before.

  16. incredible Mumbai 🙂

  17. I’m fascinated by India-glad I found your great photos.

  18. Hi Jacob,

    WOW! Your photography brings back memories – I’ve been to Mumbai (and northern India) a couple of times for business and leisure and your snaps really take me back a few years. I took the trains and saw many of the same sights. The first time I was there I felt claustrophobia – the second time I found it amazing.

    Your photos are really excellent and I was delighted to have an opportunity to view them.

    All the best,

  19. Love these! We were in Chennai & Mumbai this spring. It was amazing! Sleeper car is definitely the way to travel. My husband & I ate for 24 hours straight for $5 (for both of us). Not the best food we ate during our trip, but pretty great.

  20. Beautiful shots. I can’t wait to visit.

  21. I love your photoblog! I’ve always had a facination with the middle east. India has been at the top of my travel wish list for many years. Hopefully, someday I will get there. In the meantime, this is an excellent substitute. Thanks for sharing it with the world!

  22. I understand when a camera is given people love to shoot everything they see without understanding the feelings and culture. I must say, nice pictures, but please consider how the beggars felt while being photographed, they knocked on the pane for money, not for fame on some blog 🙂 Anyways, that was about it, other than that, nice shots! Enjoy your stay in Mumbai, and DO, DO TRY THE BIRYANI (Bir- from bird, ya- from yeah, and ni from macaroni, just if you didn’t know)!! Biryani is quite the delicacy in India and Pakistan 😀 Cheers from Pakistan!

    P.S. Try the biryani, and the TIKKA. (Soft T, spell Tikka how you would say Nigga xD)

  23. I can’t believe your tour guide was Prabhakar’s brother!! How crazy is that! Have you ever read Shantaram? I’m reading it right now.. soooo bloody long, but so good! Great great pics!

  24. Awesome!!

  25. Great pictures, it really shows the real India!

  26. great pictures! gave me a nostalgic feeling for when I was younger and travelling in foreign places. I love seeing pictures of the people in their daily lives, as opposed to scenery without people. My mom, the family historian and photographer, always said, put a person in your picture! Thanks!

  27. Amazing photos. It looks like you are having a wonderfull experience. I am very jealous! I wish I was traveling. Enjoy the rest of your travels! 🙂

  28. amazing train shots…perfectly capturing every aspect of a train journey in India..

  29. i love this post! Interesting place this Mumbai

  30. Des ki yaad aagayi!! Translation: Reminded me of India!! And take care of that foot.

  31. Amazing terrible photos.

  32. amazing, simply amazing…i have never seen India with such eyes.

  33. i just discovered you blog/photos, and i am thoroughly glad i did. wonderful engaging photos… thank you.

  34. BRILLIANT stuff!
    travelling by sleeper was definitely the best thing to do. AC compartments are plain boring. and i can’t believe you met Prabhaker’s brother!
    Your photographs are fantastic. congrats on being Freshly Presses, and welcome to Mumbai Meri Jaan (Mumbai, my life) !

  35. fascinating stuff. it’s a goal of mine to get to India someday.

  36. This is indeed beautiful! Liked your post!

  37. wonderful photos

  38. Wow I love your photos. They’re amazing. I was in Mumbai two years ago doing a 2 month long trip in India and I didn’t get a chance to take photos of the trains and seeing yours now brought back memories. Lovely pictures! I wish I could’ve take shots like these.

  39. Really lovely work! I am heading to India & Sri Lanka myself and feel wonderfully inspired by your shots. G

  40. Fabulous pictures! Thanks for sharing.

  41. I loved your pictures, and the comments were great! Short and to the point. Now I kinda actually want to go to India, never having been there before but always thought of it as an interesting place. But I don’t know if I would ‘survive’ the horribly long flight(s) to get me there…

  42. nice photos. felt i have just actually visited mumbai.

  43. i am sure people get fascinated by hungry..poor..india…but if you look closely india and indian people their lives reflect various shades and colors of life. It is the spirit of people that is beautiful, smiling through the strife that they go through every day…and becoz nothing to them is offered on silver plate they are hardworking and excel in any field they choose to…be it art, science, technology…..and their strength comes from their rich and varied heritage.

  44. Dude, this is awesome! I’ll have to go back and look at the earlier posts in the series. I’ve been considering a trip to Mumbai to railfan internationally for (relatively) cheap…

  45. India is the most backward filthy country in the world , most people live in the dark ages

  46. i totally love these pictures buddy and want to add your blog to my links I am an Indian. A military brat. And have traveled days in trains staring out at the countryside. You have looked within. The truth is everywhere.

  47. nice!… i’m nostalgic… reminiscing my childhood days in ‘aamchi mumbai’

  48. excellent

  49. Hi there, LOVE LOVE LOVE your pictures! I’m going to put up some of my snaps from my travels shortly along with some recent photos of NYC and Toronto. Do check out my blog if you have a moment. Much love. M x

  50. The photos are so lively. 😮

  51. cheers

  52. […] so many cute kids on the train! my travel buddies. they read my english/hindi phrase book and we talked most of the way. by the end of the trip i shared this compartment with about 15 people. biffed it really hard getting on the train. the thing about india is that everybody stares at foreignors so i had no shortage of help as they pulled me back up to the platform from below the train. sucked. this scene happened about once every 15 minutes. the … Read More […]

  53. wow, you are an amazing photographer! looking at them made me think of my everyday life! In India it is this way!! wow! thanks for sharing.

  54. Yes, indeed you are an amazing photographer and photo blogger. You were able to pull the sights of Mumbai off very, very well. Interesting post!

  55. Beautiful photography, you have a good eye Sir.

  56. why the man put the grease on his face?

  57. Nice nice nice!

  58. i need. to. go. to. india. badly.

    thanks for making the itch stronger!

  59. Fantastic! I felt as though I was there.
    You are an amazing photographer.

  60. Wow! Real India as it is

  61. Wow! Real India as it is! Great photos, great locations, simply amazing. I love Mumbai

  62. Nice..travelling sleeper class is a feat! 🙂 Hats Off!

  63. Amazing photos- absolutely stunning. I have never visited India- looks facinating and beautiful.

  64. Namaste !
    That is the real Mumbai you encoutered. Feels great to have guys like you give the real picture of the city that I share with millions!
    Hope you have a great journey in India. Loved your pictures too!

  65. nice to see someone not portraying mumbai in terms of its’s slums.
    A welcome perspective 🙂

  66. great post. u showed the real mumbai, as it is. beautiful and terrible all at the same time. india maybe filthy, but its still incredible. thanks for showing us as we are. hope u come back too.

  67. Oh, how I miss her.

    You’ve captured India beautifully. I hope you enjoy your trip through the country that has captured me. I’ll be following your journey- as they say in South India, enjoy maadi.


  68. you just made my day….i was feeling like the photos should never end. i madly love mumbai too. while i was still scrolling through the first few snaps i made a mental note of suggesting you to read shantaram but immediately next you mentioned it yourself.
    awesome city…awesome people…awesome book…awesome snaps too….mumbai is a world in itself…
    congrats for being freshly pressed

  69. A daily life not only in Mumbai but in most of india….great photography though

  70. Wonderful Photo’s with captivating tag lines.. Impressive.. Im sure even person who stays in Mumbai shall fall in love with this post of your..
    Thx for making Mumbai look so beautiful 🙂

  71. Wonderful Photo’s with captivating tag lines.. Impressive.. Im sure every person who stays in Mumbai shall fall in love with this post of your..
    Thx for making Mumbai look so beautiful 🙂

  72. Awesome! I am myself from India (New Delhi, not Mumbai). Nice post Jacob! Nice pics!

  73. very excellent, thank you, take good care ♥

  74. Really enjoyed the photos, emotions and the vibes have been caught really well. Great post!

  75. Great photography. I like them gritty.
    Greetings from The Netherlands.

  76. The way you have framed your trip is very special. It is very alluring for anyone who has a desire to visit India.

  77. nice pics!!
    congrats on being freshly pressed!!


  78. Beautiful photographs and descriptions. Just confirmed in my mind that India is my next travel stop! I grew up in Bangkok and the pictures sort of remind of it…

  79. Really good pictures. Well taken and of my hometown, so I appreciate them all the more!

  80. Welcome to India!! and being Freshly Pressed!!

    Fantastic photog. its rare that anyone, especially a foreigner is able to capture the nature of a complex city like Mumbai. you did it.

  81. Wow…those photos are amazing! Very haunting and human. Thanks so much for sharing!

  82. Great Photos. Looks like that guy has a really nasty cut. By the way good job on the pictures and thanks for sharing.

  83. Beautiful

  84. Never been to Mumbai nor India for that matter. But i do love the way you have captured from a few photos the intensity of culture and their belief system, which ultimately keeps them motivated for life even in the most demanding places. Love it. Love to see more work from you, as a keen writer myself, i am always looking for new inspiration from different sources such as yourself.

  85. I am impressed of all your pics. Wow! But it s hard to see how life is there also. I can not imagine to go there one day, but I am looking forward for more pics you take.

  86. So nice! Your photos sparked so many memories of my trips to India. I look forward to seeing and reading more! xoxo–Kelly

  87. Thank you for your pictures! They made me feel like I traveled to India for a few minutes.

  88. […] so many cute kids on the train! my travel buddies. they read my english/hindi phrase book and we talked most of the way. by the end of the trip i shared this compartment with about 15 people. biffed it really hard getting on the train. the thing about india is that everybody stares at foreignors so i had no shortage of help as they pulled me back up to the platform from below the train. sucked. this scene happened about once every 15 minutes. the … Read More […]

  89. India is an amazing place to be. It gives you a sense of belonging you don’t find anywhere. Thanks for sharing these pics…

  90. true India..awesome

  91. did you ever ask why that man painted his face with grease? It’s scary as I was scrolling down and saw his bulging eyes..

  92. Wow! Thanks for sharing.

  93. Amazing photos!! I’m so jealous as India is one of the places I’d dearly love to travel.

    How did people take to being photographed? Did you ask for all their permission or just snap away?

  94. wow, they serve beef chili fry? I thought anything with beef would be difficult to procure in india, where most people don’t eat beef.

  95. Hi Jacob,

    Great post. What camera are you using?

    Looking forward to more posts.

    • hello! thank you for your kind words. i am shooting with a nikon d700 and a d300. i love them. my go-to lenses are a 28mm 1.4 and a 135mm 2. please keep coming back for more pictures!

  96. Fantastic, non-stereotyped & Beautiful View of the “Other India”.

  97. […] so many cute kids on the train! my travel buddies. they read my english/hindi phrase book and we talked most of the way. by the end of the trip i shared this compartment with about 15 people. biffed it really hard getting on the train. the thing about india is that everybody stares at foreignors so i had no shortage of help as they pulled me back up to the platform from below the train. sucked. this scene happened about once every 15 minutes. the … Read More […]

  98. beautiful 🙂

  99. You can tell by the looks on their faces how honest and simple these people are. That must have been such a nice part of the trip. Great photos-

  100. Awesome post.I am in U.S right now, and your post reminds me of my home country India.If you liked India and your trip there,you would surely love to watch the movie “Swades”.
    I would suggest you to watch it once,you will understand the whole Indian culture and lifestyle.I just love this movie and this movie inspires me to be someone who would be a catalyst to bring shine and positive change in my country.

  101. Amazing Photo’s! I cant wait for more!

  102. Thank you so much for sharing. You have captured India so beautifully. However, I am so curious! Why did the man cover himself in grease?

    Thank you!!!

  103. When I saw this post on freshly pressed, I was going to leave a snide comment. I mean, I have had read ENOUGH posts on foreigners visitng India and their “amazing” experiences. And then, I realized it was a photoblog with lots of amazing pics. So kudos for not conforming and for clicking some really good ones. 🙂

  104. Really great pictures. Keep up the good work.

  105. Fantastic! I loved the pictures as they made me feel as though I was with you on the trip!

  106. Great photography Jacob…….now I miss my homeland..

  107. This is very nice post. When I was looking to these pics, only one thought came out of my mind that why it always happens that western people come in to India, they take a look of poor people and the people who are undeveloped, they take pictures of poverty and post it on mass Media and Internet. After this American & European People make an impression that India is in the Third Wold like Africa. I accept that ground reality of public transport and other infrastructure is not as good as other developed countries.

    Why not a single American visit Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)or Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO). Not a single blog is having pictures of Science City of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. No one post the pictures of Water Kingdom of Mumbai.. Why don’t they meet any well settled and Literate person, who can clear up that what is the real life in India. What is the meaning and history of all these traditions. All I want to express by this comment is : India is very wast and BIG, DON’T think that poverty is India and Illiterate poor people are Indians!!

    May god give you some time to visit good and prosperous areas in India, instead of slummy and poor ones!!

  108. An exotic train.

  109. One thing I want add is that you’re a very good photographer!! 🙂 I hope someday you’ll post some pics of Developed India instead of poor people! Thanks for sharing this post.

  110. Thank you.

    You really took me back to my own extensive train journeys up India and down again. I could smell the train fumes, taste the vendor food, remember the thunk of the carriages as I lay back on my third row vinyl sleeper.

    I always felt intrusive taking pictures of people; it’s great to see how warmly so many people responded to you. Next trip, I’ll take inspiration from your work here and step outside myself a little more.

  111. REALLY beautiful post – you capture something really rare in your photos! Thanks for sharing!

  112. Poonja to the lings is the prettiest photo. Great colors of the blue with the orange.

    Great picture of the man who painted himself blue. He’s a little scary. I’m sure there is a good reason for him painting himself.

  113. whew! nice post!

  114. Beautiful shots 🙂 Seems like an inspirational journey.

  115. Amazing!

  116. Great post

  117. Hey, beautiful beautiful pictures… remind me of how much love of life can be in everyday life, in the streets, etc. And of how much I love India…
    I’m grateful to have stumbled across your blog

  118. These photos are so lively and colorful; even though I’ve never been to Mumbai, they really seem to capture the energy of the area. I love photographs that tell as story, and these do that perfectly. Great job!

  119. welcome to India Man !!!
    there is more to see more than poverty in India. Capture amazing India in your Camera…and show it to the world..
    nice photographs!!!!which camera you are using?

    take care of your foot.

    bye ashish’

  120. Wow, absolutely LOVE your photos. I had the great privilege of visiting India for a month to raise awareness of the sex trafficking/child labor camps this past summer. Wish I would’ve been able to take as many photos/as amazing as you! Props.

  121. Amazing captures Jacob…Too good to explain the life of Mumbai..and well you covered the darkness of the life also..About Bana (means Arrow) Ganga (Ganga Tank) , it was Ram (Rama – You can know more about him in the epic of Ramayana), not Shiva, who shot the arrow into the earth . Its a fresh water tank, despite the proximity to the sea.

  122. Your photos are wonderful. Everyone tells a story. One can really get a sense of the country from your blog. You seem to be a knowledgeable photographer! Perhaps I shall learn from you!

  123. that is crazy rain indeed!

    The food looks delicious

  124. hey! i stumbled across this and i was really inspired by your shots! they are really beautiful and somehow, they say alot :D!

  125. I am just now reading “Shantaram”. Prabaker just died last night…..I wept and wept… moving I would find your post today!

  126. Lucky guy, nice pictures;)

  127. Absolutely amazing photos. I’ve always dreamed of going to India and you’ve certainly reinforced that desire. I loved Shantaram and you met Prabaker’s brother! Fantastic!

  128. As a long time traveler to India, I wish to point out that your very evocative photos, though touching, show a one-sided view of India. A true and real one, for sure. But India has many facets. I hope that you eventually portray the other ones as well. India is amazing.

  129. wonderful photos! Thanks for showing such an honest and beautiful part of India. Your pictures are so expressive, and really show us how YOU see Mumbai.

  130. Fantastic photos. You’ve perfectly captured the life and the people in India. It looks like an amazing experience, thank you for sharing.

  131. These photographs are beautiful and powerful. Thank you for sharing.

  132. You have shown me my country. I feel sad about the poverty there.

  133. vivid, real, yet mystic.. nice pictures from India!

  134. what a incredible picture

  135. what amazing photographs!

  136. Amazing photos! I miss my India now!


  137. Shots in the train are great man, the 1.4 really brings them to life.

  138. Good pictures – especially the street staircase turned river.

  139. The west can only see one side of the coin,I really pity them.

  140. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

  141. stunning photos!! india is on my wish list but scares me a little how to manage moving around such huge country.:)

  142. u discovered true india….keep going…XD

  143. a really great showcase. 🙂

  144. The shots are really good. You will enjoy being here.The more you will explore my homeland, the more you will be amazed.

  145. These pictures do not really capture the true picture of India / Mumbai. Mumbai is beautiful. Sorry but you have captured the poverty in India. India is a necklace and Mumbai is the jewel. I would like to tell this to you as an Indian first and then a Mumbaiite. Thanks!

    • i understand where you are coming from, komal. india is profoundly beautiful and rich with culture. this is an unavoidable truth. i see beauty everywhere i look here. but this beauty is punctuated by crippling poverty. how can you say that this isn’t part of the “true india” as well? i have received many comments about how people pay too much attention to the poverty here, but i say that indians don’t pay enough attention. thanks for your comment!

  146. captivating!

  147. […] so many cute kids on the train! my travel buddies. they read my english/hindi phrase book and we talked most of the way. by the end of the trip i shared this compartment with about 15 people. biffed it really hard getting on the train. the thing about india is that everybody stares at foreignors so i had no shortage of help as they pulled me back up to the platform from below the train. sucked. this scene happened about once every 15 minutes. the … Read More […]

  148. Stunning photographs. I love to travel, but Indian intimidates the hell out of me. These are gorgeous images, but still life seems harsh there. I very much enjoyed this collection. Thank you for sharing them.

  149. You have an excellent collection of photographs.
    I often feel embarrassed to take portraits of people, particularly when I’m travelling. Thus, most of my photos end up artsy fartsy shots of buildings and whatnot.
    Excellent photos, excellent blog.

    LinkedIn: KJGarbutt
    Flickr: KJGarbutt

  150. good blog, continue please!

  151. don’t go to India. It oi worse than it appears in these pictures. Filth everywhere. Literally, everywhere.

  152. Jacob, Let’s be friends! You ROCK. I love your pictures and I love stinky cheese. 😉

  153. amazing collection

  154. Truely wonderful pictures – I love India and Mumbai is my favourite city in the whole world!

  155. Very thoughtful clicks Jacob,

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