Early Morning in a Great City
Wordsworth, in one of his sonnets, gives a fine description of the beauty of the scene presented by the city of London in the early morning, when the rising sun in his first splendour illumines the towers, temples, and palaces “all clear and glittering in the smokeless air.” A scene of similar beauty may be enjoyed on most mornings by anyone who takes the trouble to climb to the top of the Rajabai Tower, from which Mumbai in all the beauty of its public buildings and encircling sea may be seen spread out below like a map. At first, all is cold and grey in the early morning, until the glow of dawn warms the sky above the eastern mountains, the morning star begins to pale, and at last a spot of golden light, too bright to be contemplated steadily by any human eye, darts the first rays of the rising sun on the highest pinnacle of the Rajabai Tower, and then in succession on the tops of other less lofty structures.
Immediately, with the rapidity that characterizes a tropical sunrise, everything is bathed in a flood of living light, and the great city rouses herself for the labours of a new day. The rich rise from their luxurious couches, the poor from their humble pallets or from the hard earth on the side of the roads, where they have been sleeping through the night, wrap up from head to foot in long pieces of cloth like the sheeted dead. But indeed for many the labours of the day have already commenced, and there are even some who have at this early hour done their work, and now get rest from their toil. The policemen, who have been watching all night to protect the city and its houses, now retire to rest. For some hours trains and country, carts have been hurrying into the city in order to provide the markets with country produce enough for millions of human beings. The fishermen have been out long before sunrise, and at an early hour of the day, the fish they have caught are ready for sale in the fish market. The streets quickly become crowded with operatives hurrying to the mills and all kinds of labourers proceeding to their various places of work.
The more well-to-do members of society, whose work does not begin before ten o’clock, go out in the early morning to breathe the cool air and refresh themselves for the work they will have presently to do. If they are living in the Fort, they have Marine Drive, a long promenade by the seashore, with its breezes fresh from the Arabian Sea, as they ride or walk along the path from Chowpatty to Colaba, they look on the right cross Nariman Point to Malabar Hill, bright in the rays of the rising sun, and on their left they see the castellated and colourful row of buildings, all in modern style, in one long majestic sweep from Nariman Point to Chowpatty. And it is no wonder if, impressed by the beauties of nature and art by which they are surrounded, they think with pride that Mumbai is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.