Mumbai Travel Blog› entry 6 of 19 › view all entries
June 10th, 2010 – by: bigdaddymac
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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