The sky is the deepest blue, the sea dizzyingly shiny. The flags fluttering on the boats make me want to paint (not that I have any skills in that department).
How different it is, from my week in Greece by the sea!
The beach at Greece is dotted with umbrellas, beckoning tourists. The catch is arranged attractively in waterfront tavernas, where hundreds of tourists walk around. In fact, large parts of Crete seem to be designed specifically for tourists. Come holiday here, says Crete! We have the sun! We have the sea!
In contrast, here in Mumbai, living by the sea is gritty and real. The boats are small, almost defiantly colourful. The day's catch is dried on terraces blazing in the sun. Or it is loaded in simple baskets, and the women carry it to market. There are no visiting hordes, clicking away with cameras.
It is even more surreal to see the old British Worli Fort, sitting incongruously among the shanties.
The Worli Fort is more than 300 years old, and it is on top of a little hill. It was built by the British in 1675, overlooking Mahim Bay. It was used as a lookout for enemy ships and pirates. And if you look at this map of Bombay, you can see how strategically the fort is positioned, and why the British picked this spot.
For the British, the threat from "pirates" was real - and the most feared of them all was the dashing Kanhoji Angre.
The growth of the Maratha power under Shivaji in 1674 was accompanied by the formation of a formidable naval fleet which controlled the coast of the Konkan. In 1698 Kanhoji Angre succeeded to the command of the Maratha navy. With his strong navy, Kanhoji became the undisputed master of the whole Western coast, from Bombay to Vingorla.
He sought to protect Maratha interests against the British, Dutch and Portuguese, and inflicted heavy damage on their ships. He captured several trading vessels of the East India company, held hostages, and received hefty sums in ransom. Several expeditions were mounted against him, to no avail. He remained, until his death in 1729, the uncrowned king of the western coast.