The traffic is overwhelming, the heat all-encompassing, the sounds enveloping. We have arrived, embraced by Bombay’s golden glow.

From the hustle and bustle of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station, the city’s main lifeline, we make our way to what can only be considered the true heart of Bombay: its cricket maidans. The large open fields are heralded in a city that’s increasingly struggling for space; they are home to the country’s number one sport and open to everyone. They’re an equalizer and a place where dreams come true.

The sun is unrelenting, beating down on the budding cricketers who are kicking up dust in the city’s iconic Oval Maidan. The setting is unlike any other, and the energy is unpalpable. Against a backdrop of Bombay’s High Court and Rajabai Clock Tower – two architectural highlights that make up the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Bombay – we can’t help but notice the stark contrast of the crispness of the Cricket Whites against the dry, deep orange pitch.

As we try to make out who’s playing in which game – there seem to be 100 going on at once – a group of spectators dance along to a celebratory drumbeat of a winning match. We feel like we’ve unlocked the magic of the city; the organized chaos of it all is what gives Bombay its pulse.

We take refuge at Cafe Universal, one of Bombay’s famous Parsi restaurants dating back to 1921. The fans creak overhead as the sun’s warm glow streams through the stained glass windows; we take a seat at a wooden booth and take a sip of our chai tea. Time seems to slow down, and we can finally catch our breath.

Bombay, you really are something.

Oval Maidan
The true heart of Bombay: its cricket Maidans. Open to everyone. They’re an equalizer. A place where dreams come true.

The iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station
The iconic business district of Ballard Estate. The area that's infamous for turning into a 'ghost town' after office hours.
Cafe Universal, one of Bombay’s famous Parsi restaurants from 1921.
Dhanyavaad, Bombay.