Mumbai (Bombay), India
25.12.2007 - 29.12.2007 29 °C
In Mumbai right now. We had taken a train from Pune to Mumbai on Christmas Day and were picked up from the train station by Raj's (Ellen's friend in Chicago)dad, Mr. Pai. That night we had a late Christmas dinner, another delicious Indian meal, finished with something Mrs Pai, called "Christmas cake." They're the sweetest couple ever. Their own kids have been out of the house for a while and I think they just like taking care of kids again and are treating Ellen and I like their daughters... so cute. Mr. Pai likes details and explains things very thoroughly, step by step, how to turn the key in the door, how to turn on the hot water, how to pronounce Durga stop to tell the bus conductor when we need to get off. It's so cute. It's nice to be pampered especially after months of being on our own.
This city is world's away from all the other Indian cities we've been in. For the most part, the other ones fit the horror stories and descriptions we've heard... the pollution, the aggressive men, the rude people, the cows in the street. Mumbai seems like another bustling city like any other... still dirty, lots of traffic, only a couple of cows.... but the people seem nicer. I think we're also having a better experience having come out of that camp and being a little more optimistic and also because we've been spoiled by this wonderful family and Raj's friends.
We watched another Bollywood movie... not in a big theatre with a rowdy audience that dances and hoots, but in a regular movie theatre. We saw Om Shanti Om, supposedly Bollywood's biggest blockbuster. It was very entertaining... overly dramatic and overacted like most Bollywood movies, but because of this it was easy to understand despite it being in Hindi. The music is actually getting to be really catchy and last night, we bought the Om Shanti Om soundtrack hehehe. That night Yogesh, Raj's friend, had taken us out to Aryan, a cute little lounge that easily could've been somewhere out of Miami. We enjoyed some great cocktails, food and conversation. We met a few people who were in the film industry, mostly working on its business aspect, rather than being actors. But it was just a completely different world from the healthcare field that it was refreshing and interesting. We also met a girl, Tuli, who grew up in Mundelein, Illinois where my parents live. Small world. We'll definitely have to hook up back in Chicago.
Here's a picture of us at Aryan... Muhammad, Naima, Ellen, myself, Yogesh and Tuli.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early to go to Elephanta, another World Heritage site. It's a series of caves built on this island with several carvings of Shiva, in different forms. Very interesting, but the journey took longer to get there and back than it did to actually visit the place.
The Pais and I on Elephanta.
Here are some other of Mumbai's famous sites. The Gate of India... another Arc de Triumph type monument that marks India's independence from Britain.
The Gate of India and the famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel... a super posh landmark hotel where we enjoyed some snacks...
The Christmas tree in the lobby of the Taj Hotel... crazy, sometimes being away, you just forget it's the holidays until you're reminded when you see some decorations.
That night, we hung out with Priya, another of Raj's friends. She owns an art gallery in the Worli area. What a crazy life she lives... always on the run, meeting artists, buyers, working the logistics of her business. And she took time to hang out with us and go shopping a little bit. So sweet. We ended up going to an art display opening for a while, drank some wine, looked at some art I didn't quite understand, and just enjoying... Then we went shopping in Colaba at the night market where we bought some shawls for gifts and of course, our prized Om Shanti Om soundtrack.
In the Bombay Times, we were mentioned in an article of the art show Priya had taken us to. It said, "...Priyasri Patodia, who has brought along a couple of friends from Chicago who were amazed by the exuberance in the Mumbai art scene..." So funny... we stop by for a few minutes to an art show in Mumbai and we're immortalized in their newspaper. Haha. Though anonymous, we know it's us.
We woke up this morning to go on a walk with Mr Pai at the jog park and run some errands. Such a sweet guy. He bought us groceries to take on our train ride to Goa tomorrow.
Then Ellen and I went on a mission to buy more shawls. It was quite an effort, an hour bus ride, hoping we don't get ripped off, negotiating prices. We celebrated with a coffee at Barista. It was another one of those places that made you forget you were India and you could have easily been sitting in Chicago somewhere people watching, reading the paper (unfortunately, about the assassination of Pakistan's Benzanir Bhutto... how tragic), and sipping on a skim mocha.