Mumbai at Midnight

By Leon Kaye | February 17, 2013 | India

After a 15 1/2 hour flight marked by sensory deprivation, the senses become alive again after the airplane door opens and you walk onto the jetway and into Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport. The musty humidity is ridden with wafts of urine, aromatic spices and the sweat of the thousands who work and file through the airport. Advertisements bombard eyes already tired from staring at a little video screen during that long transoceanic flight.

I arrived tonight in Mumbai, completely sleep deprived, after 30+ hours of travel since early yesterday morning. Ten of us will report on children’s health and survival issues in India until February 27.

We were greeted quickly by the hotel staff after we sailed through immigration and customs. After filing into the hotel cars, the adventure began, though in fairness Mumbai on a late Sunday night is relatively catatonic. The fun began; traffic is light at this hour so red lights are mere suggestions, not a signal to stop; tuk-tuks flail between lanes, one of which somehow fit five young men in the back; and the din of horns kept drivers on their toes instead of smashed into the car in front of them. And even at this time of the week, the sidewalks were still crowded with people and shops were still open. Buses, like the one pictured here, was filled to capacity.

The hotel ride was quick; only about 15 or 20 minutes. The introduction to India’s most populous city was certainly a fascinating one; and the work begins in just a few hours . . .

Leon Kaye is traveling to India in 2013 with the International Reporting Project. He is the founder and editor of, where this post originally appeared.

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