Photographer Martin Mae captures families, fashion models, and rickshaw drivers in the beautifully cacophonous city.

Recently, photographer Martin Mae traveled through Mumbai, documenting the everyday attire of couples, tourists, and families she met in India’s most populous city. With the help of creative director Kshitij Kankaria, Mae sought to capture the brilliance and singularity of Mumbai street style. “India is, to me, a very spiritual place. I’d love to think that fashion—ideally, sometime soon—will get reconnected to a higher purpose,” Mae said of the experience. “It should be a play where you can express freely your personality, and express your unicity, instead of trying to mimic someone. I think that people in India are wearing clothes more this way.”

Several of the people she photographed spoke about their experience of the city, from the ever evolving landscape to the drive Mumbai instills within them. “Mumbai makes me feel different every day,” said Yvonne Monteiro, a model and stylist who has lived in the city all her life. “The changing landscapes, the people, the rush to succeed, to know more, to feel more. The injustice and the kindness, all mixed up. It drives me mad at times and happy [at others].” Kangkan Rabha, a student from Guwahati, Assam in northeastern India, juggles school work with a career as a model. “Bombay is [said to be] the place for dreamers and achievers, and the city that never sleeps, and [never lets] anyone sleep,” he said. “Coming all the way from Assam, I also look forward to being able to say, ‘It’s been one hell of a ride.’”

After Mae returned home to London, she sent an email to Shweta Sharma, who appears appears in a red dress, standing next to a male companion. She responded with a poem of sorts about her relationship to India’s singular, sensory City of Dreams:

The birds are very loud, especially the crows. That’s how I wake up most days. The city has a steady commuter rhythm, palpable thoughts, tactile emotions wading through traffic all day, every day. The city breathes and heaves and sighs all at once. I do, too, with it. In this urban cacophony, everything on display, the skyscrapers, the slums, suited people in chauffeur-driven cars, passengers stuffed in local trains, lovers tasting the forbidden fruit in public parks. There is a paradox and no filter. A common rush that runs through everyone once they get on the sea link, rolling the windows down and letting the moist wind slap their faces, to get a few moments of calm until the city hits them again with full force. Bombay is a sensory phenom. Although, the birds are very pushy, they probably belong in New York.

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