I'm posting these straight from the e-mails that I had sent to my little sister back in March, 2009, when I was visiting India with my neighbors... hence the conversational style of these next few posts!
Mumbai has been a real study in contrasts and I'm enjoying it-- after my e-mail last night, we even had fireworks that we were able to see from the flat. I'm staying at Aunt Kay's mother's flat, which is beautiful and has really nice views of the Arabian sea and the city-- I was jet-lagged and woke up in enough time to see the sun rising over the city (which really never sleeps).
And this morning, Aunt Kay and I had breakfast on the veranda overlooking the city.
This morning we went to see the Haji Ali mosque, which is out in the Arabian sea, with a causeway that gets covered during high tide so that the
mosque becomes an island. We didn't go all the way inside of the mosque because, after a point, you have to take off your shoes and neither I nor Aunt Kay
were interested in doing that. Same with the Malalakshmi Hindu temple-- we were
content seeing it from the outside (when we go to the larger temples/mosques on our itinerary, we're planning on bringing socks! Apparently, the Taj Mahal got smart, though, and offers shoe covers, so that's one place we won't have to worry about). It's a Hindu festival today in Mumbai, and the place was so busy and colorful-- so many women and men and children in beautiful saris and suits, flowers and bright lights everywhere.
Contrasts this morning-- the beggar children and adults lined along the causeway that you just have to ignore, the trash around the base of the Haji Ali, on the rocks and floating in the because people just throw it there. The crazy traffic-- the city is still growing at such an incredible pace and doesn't have the infrastructure yet to handle all of the cars. We have a driver, which at least means parking is less of a challenge.
And nope, haven't seen any cows in the road! Three on the sidewalk, though, two
of which were dressed up for the holiday!
We did a little bit of shopping before lunch and then we headed to Uncle Nosh's place down the street for lunch. SO MUCH FOOD TODAY! You certainly don't have
to worry about me not eating enough, as it is I'll have to be rolled onto the
plane at the end of the trip. But really good food... and for dessert at lunch we had this dish that is supposed to be made only for special occasions... so between the fireworks and the dessert, I'm feeling very special. Uncle Nosh's family has been so nice and welcoming, as well.
It's hot and humid and my hair absolutely loves it-- it's so alive and curly here, while it's just tired and limp in our dry winter weather. (I know, totally random, but it is hot!)
After lunch and a rest, we went to see... I'm going to mutilate the name here... Banghanga Tank, where the Hindu funerals are usually held (though there were none today)... it's as if you took a stadium and, instead of filling it with grass, you fill the playing area with water and have steps rising up from it for a while. It was interesting to see, though I found the little village that had grown around it even more interesting-- and bustling, again, with the festival and people in all of the little temples along the narrow road (a car shouldn't go there, but we saw one brave soul who did). This was another contrast-- we went from big city to this small village right in the middle of it. You go from multi-lane roads to a narrow road where the local kids are playing cricket and construction narrowed a part down to one lane. I even got to see the local flour mill.
And each temple has its own god, with a different ambience and personality to it-- again, from the outside, since we all liked wearing our shoes.
And after that, we went to see the sun setting from a point in the Queen's necklace (that's what they call the U-shaped area on the waterfront that sparkles at night, like a necklace). This was the last big contrast here-- from big city, to little village, to peaceful, busy-but-not-so-busy spot. I've never seen the sun so red as it lowered over the horizon, into the water.
This was also the location of the Oberoi hotel (where some of the attacks took place), and we went inside-- it's a 5-star hotel and it's luxury contrasts so much with what we saw, for example, on the way to the mosque this morning.
Oh, and at the same place, I saw a lady in a sari and sneakers, powerwalking with her ipod.
And then dinner and now, too full to move, I'm ready to pass out!
Tommorrow, we're going to see the Karla Caves and going to the farm, so I'll check in when I get a chance.