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Story: The overall feeling of Mumbai is one of fullness; from buildings and people to cultures, beliefs, sounds and smells. In physical terms, constructions of all descriptions snuggle up against each other – homes with corrugated-metal roofs and a curtain over their front door neighbour sleek fashion stores with neon lights skirting their entrance. Every patch of land is filled and accounted for in this bustling, conflicting city.

Minarets of mosques punctuate the ever-present haze. Rosaries hang from the front-view mirror of a taxi; statues of Ganesh decorated with fresh flowers overpower the dashboard of another. The religious beliefs of the people of Mumbai are on constant display. Somehow the atmosphere feels fuller and more vital for it.

Our visit to Mumbai falls during the week of Diwali, commonly known as the Hindu Festival of Lights. Paper lanterns and fairy lights hang from buildings and trees across the city. Drawn to a lantern shop with a particularly beautiful range of designs on a street north of Crawford Market in south Mumbai, we gather supplies and return to the raucousness. The throng of the crowd and illuminated sky overpowers the usual chorus of beeping horns.

We send our fireworks into the inky sky – which tonight looks particularly full.


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