A Bird´s eye view

Written & Photographed by Gloria Silva

I arrived in India wrapped in cotton wool. It was past midnight when I landed in Mumbai. Arnaud, Enrico and Nikhil were waiting for me. It wasn’t too crowded, so I didn’t feel that first chaotic impact everybody talks about. My friend Arnaud had rented a modest apartment in Aarey Milk Colony, a small town on the east side of Gore Gaon. Nikhil lived in the same building. We convinced a taxi driver to let the four of us get into his car and we headed home. 

My new home consisted of a living-room with three mattresses on the floor, a tiny kitchen and a bathroom. I looked through the window. It was dark, so I couldn’t see anything, but I had a feeling that a wonderful landscape was hiding behind those black silhouettes. We were all very tired, so I didn’t think about it for too long. The next thing I remember is opening my eyes with the first rays of sun, looking out the window and finding the beautiful view I had imagined the night before. Our building, named Picadilly III, was in the middle of the jungle and on top of a mountain from where you could just see, far away, snippets of Gore Gaon. 

My friends’ warnings about the city scared me quite a bit. They filled my head with fears that I didn’t have before; not just about my adaptation to a new culture. Above all, I should never go anywhere alone. So I spent the first few days looking out the window, trying to assimilate the hugeness of the city standing right before my eyes. I just sat there thinking of how to escape from that apartment. And then, while I was wandering around the building, I found the rooftop terrace. 

That rooftop terrace became my room, the place where I spent most of my time. And that’s how I began to discover India, lying among the clouds, fifteen floors from the ground and from a weird angle. So far all I could see was a world of shadows. Each tick-tock was a powerful instant that announced the end of a story and the beginning of a new one. Hands, arms and torsos described infinite spaces with their movements and revealed our inner space, the one where our thoughts and our imagination live. Days passed while my life consisted of observing theirs. I lost track of time, until one day, without knowing exactly how, I decided to set foot on that unknown land. 

It wasn’t an easy ride, but, slowly but surely, the barriers started to fade away. Those barriers, which I probably erected myself, hid a wonderful country that didn’t look so hostile anymore. I started building my own vision of the people there, taking mental portraits of them. But my goal wasn’t to capture truthful images. I just wanted to reflect my own view of that unique moment I had in front of my eyes; an instant that shows a fragment of life, as true as I witnessed it, through the filter of my own personal experiences and prejudices. 

And that’s how I became more adventurous, visiting places and talking to as many people as I could. As days passed, I got more and more surprised by them –they wanted to know me as much as I wanted to know them. Time flied, and after three months I managed to get around the city perfectly. I am currently still immersed in India’s essence, continuing my adventure, very far from that window in Picadilly III. •