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The roller coaster ride begins

Mumbai, India


After very little sleep in a 48 hour period, Glen and I arrived into Mumbai at 10pm. What awaited us outisde the airport was our first shock in India. Hundreds of people were crammed up against barriers outside the airport, waiting for friends and family to arrive, climbing over each other to get a closer look.

We made our way to the pre paid taxi stand, and got in our designated taxi. Our driver had trouble understanding and locating the hotel we wanted to go to. After a little discussion, we were on our way. Shortly after the taxi had left the airport however, he stopped in a dark alley, and without a word, got out of the taxi. Glen and I looked at each other nervously, not knowing what was coming next. Luckily he was just getting better directions, and soon we were on our way, our nerves barely in tact.

The drive from the airport to our hotel made its work on the last of our nerves. We drove through slums where people lived in houses with cardboard roofs. We drove past parking lots which were crowded with women in beautiful saris, sleeping on the ground, and men and their sons drinking. We saw two story slum houses which seemed as if they would collapse with the slightest breeze.

What struck me most was the rubble and rubbish everywhere. There are no bins on the street, so it is no wonder that there is rubbish everywhere. But adding to that, it seems that when a house is teared (or falls) down, the remains are not cleared away. They simply build on top or around the rubble. The streets are lined with piles of dirt and concrete. Coming straight from pristine Singapore, this was a shock. We endured 40 mins of this before we got to our hotel, and were relieved to find we weren't being dropped at one of the two story shanty houses we saw. During this time Glen and I barely spoke a word to each other. There were no words that could describe how we felt, or comfort us.

We were glad to get a night's sleep. In the morning we were surprised to find that we were ready and excited to explore. I can see why people often hide in their rooms for the first day, but we were not going to be those people. We spent the day walking the streets, practicing our bartering skills but buying nothing. The only thing I picked up was a kurta and some churidar to wear. Despite being very decently clothed, the amount of stares I get is hilarious. Every man who walks past me stares at my chest. I don't mind too much. I don't feel threatened or in danger at all. It's pretty funny really. One man was walking behind us, and as he over took us craned his neck right around to stare at me. I caught him looking, and he took a moment longer to linger, then went on his way. I'm surprised he didn't walk into anything in his efforts.

Our hotel is basic but nice. There is a balcony from which we can watch the street below. We've braved two breakfasts (mostly eggs, omelet pancake things and lassi! mmmm lassi) and one dinner so far. No delhi belly yet. Picked up water and bananas to keep us going. The food has been surprisingly good, and at less than 3 dollars to feed two people for dinner, we certainly can't complain.

It was a bit of a mission to find the train station, and we were dubious of touts trying to sell us false tickets. Once we found the correct area to buy a ticket (after being wrongly told to take a bus across town, which we thankfully ignored) we kept being told to go upstairs to window 52. Eventually, after many people had told us the same thing, we realised we were being too untrusting, and went upstairs. We got overnight tickets to Udaipur, and we leave today.

Happy New Year's Eve everyone (or New Year your time). We will be spending New Year in a foreign land with floating castles!

xo

Margaret

permalink written by  Capto on December 30, 2009 from Mumbai, India
from the travel blog: Two months in Limbo
tagged MumbaiFirstDay

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WOW. Above and beyond the culture shock, it all sounds amazing. So so jealous. Please look after my boy. Make sure he comes back in one piece. Look after each other.

permalink written by  Glenn Dransfield on December 31, 2009


Oh so glad you are writing a blog! Hope you both have an amazing trip :)

permalink written by  Michael Steele on December 31, 2009


great to hear you are adjusting - we are at karekare still heading north

permalink written by  mark on January 2, 2010

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