Four days in Mumbai, four days too many.

Mumbai Travel Blog

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Aside from the throat burning smog, incredibly traffic conjested streets, mounds of trash, claustrophobic crowds, filthy/garment strewn ocean and armies of crow-like birds and stray dogs, Mumbai wasn't so bad. Our flight from Rome was exactly 35 minutes late, just in time to miss the gate closing for our Mumbai flight (nice going British Airways, shoulda seen that one coming). Luckily they set us up in a swish Heathrow hotel (transport via hotel HOPPA --> awesome name). It was kinda cool to stay in a sweet hotel but it made the transition to our $7 a night hotel in Mumbai slightly more painful. Our room, a quaint prison cell, had a fan louder than a farmall tractor and dirty, yellowing sheets. Luckily, we had plenty of fresh putrid air through the 4 windows overlooking abbandoned shanties. Not to mention the incredible racket from the city and other babbling guests. Also notable were the bathrooms which doubled as bird coops. An unforgettable experience of sunken holes and no toilet paper, one must use the little nearby faucet and flush with the watering can. Lonliness was never a problem as there were always a few pigeons in the rafters above to keep you company while you washed up.

In the adjacent restaurant we met some great people though, a couple from Iceland who had just started there 7 month trip around the world.  Hotel New Bengal was their first stop and needless to say they were a little horror struck with the place as well. We banded together pretty quickly and went to see the Elephanta caves on the second day. It was quite a fun boat ride through the brown polluted water and to watch the city scape fade within 10 feet from the shore because of the airpollution. The caves were beautiful and the cheeky monkeys on the way up were also pretty amusing. Kurt made the big mistake of pulling out a cracker to snack on and about 5 of them materialized out of nowhere demanding lunch with razor sharp fangs.

We also went to see the Prince of Wales museum, with a hodgepodge of artifacts from Europe, Africa, China, Japan and....oh yeah and a few Indian things thrown in as well. The free audio guide was unintentionally hilarious with a stereotypical Indian accent and a ridiculous introduction: "just press the number on your keypad and I will pop up like a message genie..."

One thing I won't forget is my introduction to the incredible food, so far the favorites are the falooda, an amazing milk shake with rose syrup and vermicelli noodles, as well as the gulab jamuns, basically fried pancake balls soaking in honey and rosewater...delectable. Adding to the flavor for life in India are the prices...the genoese in me purrs with delight when kurt and I get the bill for dinner: two courses with deserts and drinks for 250 rupees or about $6.

Tomorrow I leave for Aurangabad to see the caves of Ellora and Ajanta, should be a rollicking frollicking good time.

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photo by: vvicy1