Mumbai is always buzzing, day or night. During the day, the streets are packed with traffic and pedestrians, rushing about. The suburban railway stations are crowded with commuters at all hours. The footpaths are taken over by hawkers and their customers.
At night too, the city is on the move, even if traffic is somewhat less. Night shift workers commute back home by train and bus. Not surprising, therefore, that Bombay is often known as the city that does not sleep.
The lockdown has transformed those busy streets. The concourse of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the starting point of central railway suburb trains, is empty. The inner streets have not a soul to be seen. The Marine Drive promenade, the city’s favourite place to walk and enjoy the breeze and the sea, is without its walkers and romantic couples. It is an abnormal sight.
Award-winning photographer Sudharak Olwe, known for his images of cityscapes and marginalised workers and communities, set out to shoot the bare streets of Mumbai and also visit the slums, where groceries and other essential items do not reach. In Dharavi, people queued up to collect their rations. In the densely packed slums, social distancing is not always possible, but municipal workers and policemen were at hand to ensure there was order.