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Boombastic Moombastic

Mumbai Travel Blog

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I have never driven a sports car. I have come close though. This closeness took the form of the Nissan 350Z. For the unenlightened, the 350Z is a 2 seater front wheel drive coupe with enough horses under the bonnet to replace the engine powering the Bhopal Shatabdi Express.

The 350Z is an interesting motorcar which left me with a seemingly paradoxical experience. From the moment I opened the door and stepped inside, my ride can be described as:
"Uncomfortable, hard, jarring, loud, difficult, noisy, overwhelming, oppressive, polluted and busy!" in summary, bloody fantastic and this is precisely the experience I had today in Mumbai.

An apparent contradiction, yet a globally intoxicating experience, the individual parts of which would have little appeal on their own.
Anna, Jax, JC, Debbie, Emma and Tracy
Mumbai is a city of frantic mélange. From the cacophony of horns of the traffic to the tranquility of airconditioned luxury in the Taj Mahal Hotel, this city propositions a spectrum of offering so wide, that you would not be faulted for thinking that you perhaps crossed the border into other countries.

A group of us eagerly rolled down the ship’s gangway this morning. The combination of heat and humidity would have been perfectly suitable for a home sauna, but certainly not a day of city exploring. It was at this time when I realized a white or black shirt may have been more suitable attire (mental note to self) and this would not be for cultural reasons. We saw many passengers falling prey to the extortion of the taxi drivers just along the ship. Outside the harbour we negotiated a price 7 times below the asking price only 250 meters back.
Playing in the traffic


What struck me first, aside from the beggars’ hands, were the incomprehensible amount of people. Like a sea of bodies in the road, people seemed to be oozing out of everywhere. Perhaps that’s the effect of the arrival of ignorant Westerners with “superfluous” cash is what I first thought, but the amount of people just seemed to increase. Considering Mumbai has more inhabitants than the whole of Australia and is only a fraction of the size, the above observation starts making a lot of sense.

So we set sail into this ocean of people in our compact black and yellow Suzuki taxi. Our first stop was Victoria station terminus. We did not actually stop, but merely drove through and soaked up the thick, warm, urine stained air of the backstreets of the station.
Hanging Gardens
Yes, this is Mumbai in all its glory. From octogenarians washing themselves on the side of the road to cows strolling down congested streets, no sight seems too strange or too bizarre.

Our next port of call was a mosque, followed by the Hanging Gardens, where a local had fallen off a small bridge. The “medics” seemed to be performing an odd back massaging ritual on him. It is precisely for these reasons why I’d rather not get involved in medical issues in other countries…

A short trip to an outdoor bathing area, known as Tank something or other was quite disturbing. Young children were bathing in what appeared to be polluted water. I felt nauseous, we luckily did not spend much more time there and moved along. Our taxi took us to Dobi Ghat, which can only be described as a fantastic spectacle of the world's largest outdoor laundry.
The tank!
Traditional washerfolk provide a service of washing (and collecting) laundry in outdoor washing pens. One of the nurses remarked "How do they get their whites so white? they must be using Ariel!".

Gateway of India was the following stop. This building was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay (Mumbai's previous name). So it was with some surprise that the items on sale around the Gateway were either giant peanut shaped balloons or hashish. Perhaps the balloons were more enjoyable after consuming some hashish or was that possibly the other way around? The Taj Mahal hotel situated directly opposite stood in grotesque contrast in that it offers nothing but pure opulence and luxury, compared to the candid squalor just across the road.
Gateway to India
Some other crew members had lunch there for $200 (US) for 2 people, so we decided to move on again, not before using their restrooms though :)

The last hour was somewhat of a blur. Not as a result of any items purchased at the Gateway, but due to lack of time and trying to tick off an unfinished “to do” list.
I managed to find a delicious vegetarian spicy rice dish at a street vendor, as well as some freshly squeezed mango juice; at least that’s what it tasted like. All for under a dollar (US)!

The taxi driver started renegotiating the fare on the way back, which was rather irritating, seeing that we had agreed on a price beforehand. I did not renege, at least not initially and decided to add a 5 dollar tip, which was well worth his effort. Even though we probably were ripped off again.
Apparently the Gastro levels always increase after the ship has been in India. So I better get some rest before tomorrow!
gafen says:
GREAT STORIES, GREAT PICTURES, Keep up the good work!!!
Posted on: Jun 11, 2010
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Anna, Jax, JC, Debbie, Emma and Tr…
Anna, Jax, JC, Debbie, Emma and T…
Playing in the traffic
Playing in the traffic
Hanging Gardens
Hanging Gardens
The tank!
The tank!
Gateway to India
Gateway to India
Hashish Balloons
Hashish Balloons
Great Food!
Great Food!
Mumbai Central
Mumbai Central
Fancy a Lemonade?
Fancy a Lemonade?
Safe from McDonalds
Safe from McDonalds
Outdoor Laundry
Outdoor Laundry
I dont see any Ariel around...
I don't see any Ariel around...
Laundry
Laundry
Taj Mahal Hotel
Taj Mahal Hotel
Mango Juice?
Mango Juice?
Mumbai
photo by: vvicy1