Gateway to India
It was a simple train journey down from Daman to arrive in at Andheri station in north Mumbai. As seems to be customary, the tuk-tuk drivers first tried to rip me off for the fare to the hostel (one wanted INR 150, when the true fare is 30!!), and then couldn't find the address. India has a terrible address system, there's almost no logic to it, no wonder people can't find places! After calling Joseph at Anjali Inn, he directed the driver and I was able to check in. It was a nice friendly welcome, and I was transported to the 'appartment' accomodation about 5 minutes away as that's where the dorm accommodation was.
By the time I had got there and settled in, it was late afternoon and too late to do any more than get a late lunch and take it easy - so that's exactly what I did! I got chatting to Maria (Scotland) at the hostel over dinner in the evening and we decided to head out sightseeing the next day. I was panicking a bit as my Indian Premier League cricket tickets still hadn't turned up (I'd arranged for them to be delievered to Anjali Inn) and the first match was in two days time. I tried to forget about it for a day as Maria and I took in the sights with Anna and Tabatha, two German girls we'd befriended that morning at the hostel.
Taj Mahal hotel
They had all just arrived in India, so it was total culture shock when we went to get the urban train into the city. Andheri is 25km from the centre, so not the greatest location for a hostel, but the family feel and facilities made up for it.
We got our 2nd class tickets (INR 8/10p/15c) and found platform 5. A train pulled in and I pointed out the 'Ladies Only' carriage and said the girls may be better off getting in there as the normal carriages are usually jammed packed. As our train arrived, they started towards the carriage and I jumped (or rather was shoved) into the normal crowded carriage. The locals were helpful and made sure I got inside! However, as we pulled away, I noticed the girls still standing on the platform - what had happened?!? I couldn't gte off as I was stuck between about 10 locals. I got to the last stop, Churchgate, and waited. About 10 minutes later, through the crowds I spotted them and somehow we were reunited - phew! A relief for me as Maria had the only map between us! So we set off exploring the Colaba area - Maria and I were excited as we'd both just read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts which is set in this part of Mumbai.
We headed down the Gateway of India, which is very similar to India Gate in Delhi (and thus the Arc de Triomphe) - could no-one come up with an original design here!! Nearby was the Taj Mahal hotel. Colaba is a lot more open than I had expected and Mumbai is a much nicer place to walk round than a lot of other Indian cities, such as Delhi. We strolled around Colaba and found Leopald's - the most famous cafe in Mumbai and half expected to find Didier himself still sitting there, drinking himself stupid. But no, the book was set in 1984, so no surprise that he wasn't there! We had a rather expensive lunch (god, Mumbai is generally just an expensive place, about 3 times as much as everywhere else in India!) before walking up through the fort area and to the Victoria Terminus station - a bit of a letdown I have to say, not particularly interesting or great to look at.
Maria and I consoled ourselves with a few Kingfishers at the station pub (well, the closest thing to the station pub) - the local men finding it hilarious that Maria was drinking beer in what was clearly a male only domain!
Lunch at Leopald's!
My next day was spent on a wild goose chase i.e. trying to track down my cricket tickets. I managed to find out which courier company were meant to be delivering them, but by now it was the day of the match, so I was out of hope. Then I managed to get through to them and they told me they had a letter for me and that it would be delievered by 12pm - a bit tight, i thought, but I could still get to the game! Result! Errmm, not so fast, sunny Jim. 12pm came and went and after a few frantic phone calls it appeared that the courier could not find the address - oh bloody hell, not another one! I eventually went to the Blue Dart courier office to try and get the letter with my tickets inside.
I had a go at the manager, with a typical British complaining style, and he found someone who would take me to where the courier was. Oh dear, this turned out to be a complete farce - we drove round for an hour while matey tried to find the guy on the road with the parcels. The match start time had long since passed by this time and I was livid - complete incompetence by both the Ticket company and the courier company had denied me my chance to see the first match of the 2010 Indian Premier League. We eventually found the courier at 4pm, an hour after the match had started. It was too late to get to the stadium, which was right in the middle of the city - bugger it! I had to resort to watching the remainder on TV.
View as I flew out
I was so dejected and p*ssed off that I barely moved the next day - I didn't make it further than the Domino's round the corner! However, despite the ticket fiasco, the kindness of Anur and Joseph at the hostel in trying to help me out meant that I left Mumbai with found memories.
At least I had a ticket for a match in Bangalore, so i set off, determined to finally see some live cricket!
View of the Mumbai coast as I flew out