a city next to a body of water

There’s an almost endless array of words you could use to describe Mumbai, but “empty” has never been one of them. The city is bustling, vibrant and full of life at every turn, from the opulent shores of Marine Drive to dense centers of Dharavi.

In a world grappling with unprecedented health concerns however, Mumbai is now practically a ghost town, and a film crew from Mumbai Live was invited to document the surreal look at life in one of the world’s busiest cities, without any of the busy.

No cricket, no selfies outside the Gateway of India, no jogs along Marine Drive, no buses chock full of people- is this India?

This is perhaps a once in a lifetime, or even many lifetime look at a city in a way it will perhaps never be seen again. Is it sad? Absolutely. Is it beautiful? Absolutely, yes it is. There’s never been a time in modern history where the streets of a city home to over 18 million people have looked anything like this.

There’s something remarkable about immaculately clean streets, but there’s something harrowing about the lack of buzz. After all, it’s the people of Mumbai which make it unlike anywhere else.

a city next to a body of waterMumbai is, and will remain one of the most fascinating and worthwhile destinations to explore, and is the perfect jumping off point for any trip further into India. For those who consider food as life, you can’t miss a chance to tour the city’s incredible, aromatic, centuries old spice markets.

Ideally, a quick cooking less to follow never hurts either.

Despite the immense struggle and existential threat to global tourism posed by current world health concerns, there’s a silver lining in the positive effects experienced in nature. Coral reefs are regaining life, Canals in Venice are clearing, beaches around the world are clearing.

The world will be a better place when Mumbai looks like a city without enough room for anyone to move an inch, but until that day comes, and even when it does, this reminder of what could be, and what once was will remain surreal.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks for sharing Gilbert! Even though I’m based in the US, I grew up in Mumbai and have a ton of family and friends there including my wife and young daughter who are stranded there with family while I’m home in the US. The video brought a lot of memories to life. I have been making 10-12 round trips to Mumbai every year from the US for the past 5 years (people call me crazy) for business and to see family. This year, I flew 65,000 miles in the first 2.5 months. It feels a little unreal to not be able to make those trips anymore and see the people I love. I miss being on planes. People are struggling to make ends meet in Mumbai but everyone I’ve spoken to is very supportive of the plan to battle COVID-19. I hope this crisis ends soon.

    1. PM1, Pleasure. Surreal to see. One of my favorite places to go and I can’t quite believe my eyes as I watch it, either. Wishing health and happiness to your family here and abroad, and that we’re back in the skies again soon. Best, Gilbert

  2. As a frequent visitor over more than a decade with many friends in the city, once again thank you for sharing.

    (but when this is over I’ll still choose anyone but uncle Alex to take me there as I want the service sold not an “enhanced” option repleat with filthy cabins, broken screens and missing catering)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *