Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mumbai Memories


I really didn't like Mumbai.
It's hot, dusty, smelly, dirty, filthy, dirty, filthy. I know there's a reason for some of this namely poverty and being India's largest city people will migrate to it in the hope of making money or breaking free of the cycle of poverty - I admire them for that. But there was stuff that just made me shake my head. There'd be people squatting on the street and there'd be a toilet maybe 20-30 metres away from them (now I have never been in a public toilet in India and I feel that was probably a wise move!).

It really was a culture shock for me. I was confronted on an almost daily basis on the contrasts between the haves and the have-nots and just how people survive. I was miserable and I think I made your father miserable too! You also have the insanity of the Mumbai commuter trains. It's fun to watch (in hindsight) how intimidated tourists are to try to get on one of these trains. They are packed to the absolute brim with people still hanging out the edges and there seems to be some form of coordination to the chaos that took your father and myself a couple of trains to work out - we basically just took the plunge and jumped on the train. We were trying to get tickets to Delhi as that was the next place your father and I wanted to go to. This is where we met the next part of what I found to be really frustrating about Mumbai - everyone is out to scam you or alternatively there are just so many layers of bureaucracy it's crazy. So we were told that we had to go to a certain station to get tickets for the Rajdhani Express. So we go to that station - stand in a line to get a token, to then stand in another line to get to a ticket window to be informed we have to a different station (foreign national ticket office) to repeat the process... rinse, lather, repeat.

So we buy the tickets to Delhi. Your father wanted to go first class as the Rajdhani Express is meant to be quite an experience in first class. We ended up in Second Class as tickets are booked out months and months ahead for first class and there's only so many allocated to foreign nationals.

I will be honest and admit at this point that I love Indian Food, I especially love Indian Food in India (although I know it's not referred to as Indian Food). But it's so good, the thalis, the masalas, the sambar, the poha, the wedu... etc ;) I would get fat living in India! There was also a rather interesting restaurant that was attached to our hotel called Out of the Blue that did fusion foods. So a blend of western & Indian cooking - that was so good! I can still remember it a penne served with a creamy green chilli masala. Blew me away!

We did some of the typical touristy stuff before we left for Delhi - checked out Mumbai, the Elphanata Caves. India has such a sense of history that most places in the world can't come near and there's something very spiritual and humbling about it all.

We were in Mumbai for 3 days before heading off to Delhi. There was something else I was going to say I have completely forgotten now!