Sketching Mumbai: Stepping Back in Time

The main reason for my trip to India was a one week workshop in Mumbai that I co-taught with urban sketcher Zainab. I love Mumbai. It is a city of contrasts, one that holds many different worlds within it. Right in the middle of one of the poshest neighborhoods in the city, Malabar Hill, flanked by modern skyscrapers, is an ancient water tank built around AD 1127. What is wonderful about this (and many other ancient sites in India, really) is that this isn’t a place frozen in time. It’s a living community with homes, temples and even a large open-air laundry surrounding the tank.

Here are the steps of that tank, where loud, honking geese hold court.

Sitting on the steps, I sketched this religious ceremony while drinking my chai. One day I might learn that dirty water next to a cup of chai is a disaster waiting to happen. This was not that day. My chai needed to be replaced soon after I took this first shot.

This first sketch was my solution to dealing with a super-complex looking scene at the open-air laundry, with clothes drying above and bundles of them on the ground below. I basically sandwiched the view between these two layers and sketched it, adding some details to the laundry later.

And this last sketch is probably what I love drawing the most: people at work. The man in the front washes a striped shirt on a washboard over an old bathtub. Behind him, another man works a hand-cranked wringer.

More sketches from India coming soon. If you missed them, here are the earlier posts in this series:
• Kite flying in Gujarat
My great, great grandparents home and more sketches from Surat

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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3 Responses to Sketching Mumbai: Stepping Back in Time

  1. Wonderful sketches Suhita! And yes, I think many of us have dipped our brushes in our drinks.😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joaquim says:

    Hello suhita, how are you? I’m just curious about how you manage to sketch and colour within a short span of time. Do you have to take pictures or as is directly?…cause I’ve noticed many a times people move… I mostly do heads and bit of poses not colour only in black line and crosshatch

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most of these sketches are a half hour to 40 minutes,so they are not super quick . I know it’s possible to get there with practice, because within the week, my workshop participants were finishing their pieces in that time frame too.


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