Think of Mumbai and what comes to your mind? Crowds, torrential rain every monsoon, crowded local trains and a people always in a hurry to get somewhere? But Mumbai is so much more than a business and commercial hub. Its lanes and by lanes are filled with the stories, foods and culture of all the communities, from Bohris and Parsis to East Indians, Kolis and even Jews, that have made this city their home over many decades and even centuries. It is their stories that the city-based experiential travel company, No Footprints, wants to share with the rest of the world with their walking tours.
Apart from the walking tours, No Footprints also organises workshops and group events. But the walking tours are the mainstay. The community and their stories lie at the heart of each curated tour, from migration patterns, economics, history, culture and trade to architecture and pop culture. The tours are truly unique and show the city in a completely new and intimate style. Tours range in subject from architecture, heritage, religion, art and Bollywood to food.
The Mumbai By Dawn is a popular tour. The walk starts early in the morning at the chaotic docks and guests get to hear the story of the city’s original residents, the Koli fishing community, and also get to witness the arrival, grading and auction of 25 tonnes of fish! Guests get to see a city wake up, witnessing first hand activities like the sorting of newspapers, the markets getting stocked up with fresh produce that reaches the city every single morning and the daily delivery process of every item you can imagine from milk to freshly baked bread.
No Footprints’ food walks are equally interesting. The ‘Khau Gully’ walk is focuseed on Mumbai’s rightly famous ‘veg’ street food. You get to savour many interesting tales along with the food, like how the odd hours of of the thousands of textile mill workers resulted in a street food revolution and contributed to the creation of the Pav Bhaji. The ‘Kabab and Curry’ walk takes you to the nervecentre of the non-vegetarian street food—Mohammad Ali Road and Bohri Mohulla. Along with tales of the Bohra Muslim business community, you get to taste quintessential Bohri dishes like the 12 pot curry, sherbets, Chana Batata, Boti Kebab and Seekh Kebab. You will get to visit hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are more famous than some Michelin starred restaurants! You will also be able to taste a myriad sweets, along with the numerous meat delicacies. These tours are truly a feast for the senses.
No Footprints is also very conscious of preserving, protecting and promoting the traditions, practices or built heritage of the community that they explore with their tours and are committed to Responsible Tourism principles. A recent tour called A Queer Day Out, offered an insight into the history and lives of the queer community in Mumbai and tours like this are a way of mainstreaming conversation about the queer community in tourism. The tour was designed and led by queer individuals.
Similarly the team organises tours that bring to the fore community practices that are slowly diminishing. For instance, a walk down Mathrpacady during Christmas not only takes you through an unknown area of Mumbai, but also brings to light the problems that the East Indian community faces due to the real estate lobby. Through this tour No Footprints brought to the mainstream conversation around preservation of the heritage homes of the people who have been staying here for centuries. Another example is the celebration of Narali Purnima, which is practically an unknown festival. The tour throws light on the festival and the community, with an emphasis on sustainable fishing by the community.
Price: Rs 4,000 per person for a minimum of two people in a group. Taxes are extra
Read more: https://www.nfpexplore.com/
No Footprints’ work is centred around stories from communities. The team works directly with communities to promote the idea of experiencing life as it is. Tours that bring focus on or support under-stress communities are also organised. For instance, all the money earned from the Mathrpacady walk was donated to the association that was fighting against the real estate lobby to ensure that they continue to live in their heritage homes. No Footprints also generates employment opportunities for home makers in communities through their home cooking workshops and meal experiences. They are against promotion of poverty tourism and their Dharavi tour does not take tourists to the residential spaces unlike other tours where people's private lives are put on show. No Footprints is an inclusive employer and walk leaders represent a diverse group of individuals across age, gender, sexual orientation, class and caste.