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Mumbai (Bombay): Photos

The 'Gateway To India' circa 1911
January 1, 2006:

Flight to Mumbai uneventful and of course we were served another meal. I continue to be impressed by how quickly they can get drinks and food out and picked up in less than an hour. We are now on the Jet Airways. What a difference! We decided to eat a veggie meal. It was great. I love Jet Airways. It is a private upstart airlines and they copied the book from Jet Blue. Because there has been a terrorist attack in Bangalore all the airlines are on even higher security. You get frisked at least twice before getting on an airplane.

Mumbai has a dramatically different feel than Delhi and a real cultural shift from the last ten days in Rajasthan. We drive by all the great British-era buildings that are crumbling, but still remain dignified. Staying in the heritage wing in the Taj Mahal Hotel. Gorgeous and very cosmopolitan. Indian teenagers in jeans and tight sleeveless tops with bra straps showing. Chic tourists in designer clothes. Stunning Indian women in VERY expensive saris and Punjabi's. French designer shops in the lobby, multi million dollar diamonds for sale. Toto, we aren't in Rajasthan anymore.....

Lunch by the pool a the hotel which is a must. You really get a feel of what it must have felt like during the British period.

Took a public boat out to the Elephanta caves. It was New Years day and a big mistake to go to the caves that day. It is an hour ride. I happened to ask the guide about life preservers. She pointed to the tires on the side of the boat (that are nailed to the side of the boat as bumpers). Oh well....too late. Great view of Mumbai harbor. May be my last view of anything.....

It is horribly hot and the crowds at the Elephanta caves are almost indescribable. Another Shiva Lingum. All domestic tourists--shoulder to shoulder. You need to walk up a long pier and then hundreds of steps to get to the caves. It is interesting, but I would never do on a holiday. I feel hot and filthy for the first time in India.

A really funny thing happened on the way back to the boat. A British woman was walking with her husband and was dangling a bottle of coke between her fingers as she walked. Our guide suddenly said "there goes the coke!" A baby monkey casually walked up to her, grabbed the coke and ran back to a tree where she opened the bottle and leaned back and drank the coke. Would be a great ad for Coca Cola. See her for yourself:

Back down the steps, back down the pier. We are now wilting. Walk across five boats to get to the outside boat. Posted sign: Maximum 40 persons. Actual persons on boat: 100. Life preservers: 0 Landed safely and all is well. Need a shower bad.

I have no pictures of the Elephanta caves except for that bad baby monkey. They are caves with Budda and a Shiva Lingum. Just use your imagination.

Our guide is Jewish and a terrific guide. I only mention her religion as she is one of the only 4500 Jews left in Bombay (which is the largest Jewish enclave in India). Very interesting conversations about being Jewish in India.

January 2nd:

Today we did a Bombay city tour. Decided to continue skipping temples and rather spend more time "feeling" the city and driving around this massive city. Drove to the high rent district where $1 million gets you a tiny flat. Saw the Parsi park in the middle of the city where their dead are left at the top of towers to be taken away by vultures. Visited the famous famous dhobi-wallahs (washer men/women) where they do laundry everyday for thousands of residents of Bombay. I have no idea how they keep everything straight, but they do. I have great pictures of this incredible operation. Just click the link above.

We decided to do some shopping where east meets west and went to a high end store called "Melange" It is almost impossible to find this shop, but I bought a fabulous "crinkled silk" skirt that will be perfect to wear when I'm home. They altered it and had it delivered to my hotel that evening. You can get lots of cheap stuff in Rajasthan, but it is difficult to wear in the US. In Bombay and Delhi they have great "Indian inspired" western wear that is perfect for when you are back in the US.

We have decided to stay in Bombay an extra day and skip one of the cave days in Arangubad (we are getting a bit "caved-out" as well)

We go to "Indigo," a terrific restaurant in Bombay, for dinner. It is right out the back door of the Taj Mahal. We put on high heeled shoes and dress up. It was fun. . Food was spectacular. We continue to have Cosmopolitan martinis every night (our regular habit in India ;-) along with Kingfisher beer (which is really good, light beer). I had their famous Lobster risotto and it was fabulous. Appetizers, Cosmos, wine, dinner and dessert came to around $85 for two of us. Expensive for India, but it was worth it. We sat on the rooftop patio and the night breezes were wonderful.

As we left Indigo, the street level floor was filled with gorgous 20 somethings in low rider jeans and tank tops. You would think you were in LA.
Permalink | Posted by Patricia Pomerleau on Sunday, January 22, 2006