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Mumbai (the Unbelievable Five-Photo Post)

March 17, 2011

Any of you who are aware of my track-record with technology shouldn’t be at all surprised by the fact that my year-old camera started going on the fritz towards the end of our trip. There were no cups of beer, holes in pockets, or toilets involved in this misadventure; I think it had simply been subjected to some extreme conditions. Anyway, it decided to go more-or-less off duty in Mumbai, so here are all five of the pictures I was able to get away with:

european style architecture in the churchgate district

same same

cricket tourney in churchgate (thankfully we had wayne in tow to explain all the intricacies!)

the gateway of india on day two

taj mahal hotel in the colaba district

If I haven’t completely lost track of the India schedule, I believe we arrived in Mumbai early on a Saturday and left late on Sunday for Jaipur. Our first impressions weren’t great. Definitely passed through some smelly, slummy areas on our way in. After being dropped off got into a taxi asking 500 rupee for a ride to the Bandra district, whence we would depart for Jaipur and therefore where we wished to stay.  An older Indian woman appeared out of nowhere and started berating our driver; she informed us in perfect English that on the meter it wouldn’t cost more than 100 rupee to get to Bandra, and that he was trying to rip us off. We weren’t surprised, but greatly appreciated her intervention– except we had to drive around to about six different hotels before finding a suitable one, and by that time the meter had reached 600 rupee. And we weren’t at all happy about spending another 1200 on the hotel room the three of us shared. Looking back it’s a bit laughable that we’d gotten so bent out of shape about a grand total of $45 (split three ways!), but I think that just speaks for the scale on which we’d gotten used to operating.

One of the best Indian meals we were to ever enjoy raised our spirits at lunch. As did this little episode: our waiter was having a hard time understanding what we said to him. A kind man at the table next to ours leaned over and said, “Let me help. What did you want to know?” “Oh thanks! How many blah blah blah are in the blah blah blah?” Kind-man-at-neighboring-table turned to the waiter and said, “How many blah blah blah are in the blah blah blah?” In English! I guess it was just our crazy American/Canadian/South African accents that threw him off.

The same man recommended Churchgate as a nice place to spend our afternoon. We took the train (with its separate “Ladies Only” car, which I believe Laura ended up checking out because the rest was so crowded) and indeed it was nice. Definitely a different side of India than we’d seen before, which seemed to be the name of the game we were playing at each successive stop. Checked out the architecture, watched some cricket, got some ice cream, and headed home.

Our goals for Mumbai were to catch one of the famed Bollywood productions (our fingers were actually crossed that we’d be invited to participate in the filming of a movie as extras, as allegedly happens to foreigners fairly frequently… no dice!) and drink some Bombay Sapphire (despite an acute distaste on my part for gin), and we thought our one night in town would be the perfect time to do both. Instead we did neither. Bombay Sapphire was nowhere to be found, and the theater the hotel employees sent us to was not playing Bollywood. Alas!

The next day was dedicated to meandering and shopping in Colaba, an affluent, tourist-friendly district in the south of Mumbai where the Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Hotel are located. First we had to drop off our luggage in the storage room (read: “parcel office,” since there was no storage room, though we’d been told on multiple occasions that EVERY train station in India has a storage/cloak room) at the West Bandra train station, which left us in a considerably less affluent area (video courtesy of Laura MacKinnon):

We enjoyed the day and the sunshine before making ourselves comfy on a nearly 24-hour train-ride to Jaipur– the penultimate stop of the journey.

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