Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mumbai cont.

So, let's see here....where did I stop last. Oh yeah, so we stayed the night in the shoddy Salvation Army hostel...which was quite a trip...Literally, right after I wrote the last post I was trying to pay for my hour of internet and ended up getting in a fight with the internet operator from our hostel. He wanted me to show him my passport, but all he needed was the number. So I kept trying to tell him my number, but he wouldn't accept it. When I told him that it was locked in our locker and my roommate was out with the key, he just threw the book at me and said, "fine, but next time no passport, no internet!" Anyhoo getting on with the rest of our trip...We were so tired from the travelling that we fell asleep kind of early. Our night was filled with endless dogs barking outside the window. It's funny because in India the dogs are nocturnal. They literally sleep in the street and on the sidewalks all day long, then when night arrives they all seem to wake up. They stand on the street barking and attacking anything/anyone who dares to walk by their precious plot of concrete. Then to counteract the attack from the dogs, the cars and auto-rickshaws honk incessantly; so pretty much, sleep in Mumbai is a wee bit difficult.

We had read about a big market north of Colaba (where we were staying), and in the morning we decided to try and walk there. On the LP (Lonely Planet) map it only looked to be about 3km or so. We started walking and got completely turned around at our first roundabout. Only about 1/5 of the streets are actually labelled with a street name, so it makes it pretty difficult to get around. We kept asking people where MG Road is (one of the MAIN roads that runs in this part of town), and no one seemed to know. When people would ask where we were going they would say "oh no, too far walk...must take taxi...too far." Kate is reading 'The White Tiger' by Aravind Adiga right now (a book that takes place in India) and when we read this excerpt after our excursion it seemed to sum it up perfectly:

"And then another thing. Every road in Delhi has a name, like Aurangazeb Road, or Humayun Road, or Archbishop Road. And no one, masters or servants, knows the name of the road. You ask someone, 'Where's Nikolai Marg?' And he could be a man who lived on Nikolai Marg his whole life, and he'll open his mouth and say 'huh'?"

So after the third person we asked for directions told us that it was too far to walk we decided to finally get in a taxi. The driver must have taken us about 5 blocks further down the same road we had been walking on for 45 minutes. Literally, his meter didn't move from the starting off price of 14 rupees (about 30 cents)! Ha...

We walked around the streets in awe. Unfortunately it wasn't the fun markets filled with sarongs, scarves and jewellry, but it was more of a local market with everything from electronics to tools to chai. The street were filled with so much life that we were just walking through in awe. Men and women alike were carrying loads 5 times their size on their heads! I have some great pics that I will figure out how to upload onto here soon! Unfortunately it's not always kosher to snap photos of people, so we had to do a lot of sneaky shots. But I was just wishing that I could have an hour there of free photo time where I could take pictures of anyone/thing; it was a beautifully ugly sort of place if that makes sense. The people have so much beauty and stories in their face and dress, that I just want to capture it all on camera, but I'm trying to not step over the boundary of being rude.

After that market we walked over to another market where a guy wouldn't let us inside because there was a sign that said foreigners had to pay someone to take them through the market. Instead we walked down 30 feet and walked in on our own. The market was beautiful, filled with fruits and vegetables, and teas. The weirdest thing we saw there were little puppies in cages....lord knows what the plan was for those cute little guys!

Our walk back consisted of your average walk down an Indian street: Non-stop hassling, dodging cars, and honking horns. All you hear is "excuse me miss", "Hello miss", "very good price", "where you from"...then a few will even reach out and grab you. Especially the children. It's so sad because they are so dirty and living on the street. I saw a baby girl standing next to a wash basin and she grabbed a pair of wet dirty undies out and started sucking on them. A few blocks later there was a little boy taking a poo in the street drain. It's really hard to see. And the kids are the most persistent with the begging. They grab you, and will follow you a whole block just tugging at your arm then pointing to their mouths. It's super sad! The saddest part about it too, is that any money you give them just goes to someone else. It's a bad situation.

Once we got back to Colaba all was good, except that we got followed for half a block by a religious guy who kept pestering us, then finally he got me by saying that we was a Hare Krishna and wanted NO I got suckered into a minute long prayere that, of course, ended in a plea for a donation. When I said no, he got super upset and mean and wouldn't leave us alone for another block. It's pretty crazy. You really want to just trust everyone and talk to everyone, but there are so many alterior motives that it's difficult. Even when you go to buy something, you ask for a price, then they say something too high, so you say how much you want to pay and they say no, but when you start to walk away they ok, that they'll give it to you at that price. Typical haggling right? Almost, except when you go to pay them for the item, they guilt trip you saying, oh pay me more i make no's a little weird; you either get ripped off or guilt tripped. haha.

Anyhoo...we ended up meeting up with Kate's cousin's girlfriend and her friend and got some good advice about travelling and odd things like never pay more than 10 rs (25 cents) for 4 bananas, and watch out for people that will come onto buses or trains and tell you it's your stop, then you get outside and they say its a 500 rs taxi ride that they will take you on... always gotta be on your a game here.

So, after an attempt at ripping us off from the taxi driver, we ended up getting onto our bus ready for our 15 hour bus ride, and we were shocked at what we found. First, we had each paid 800 rupees ($18), for two sleeper class bunks. When we got there every Indian had their own bunk, but what the driver said was ours was one bunk about 2 1/5 feet by just 6 feet...smaller than a twin size bed, for 15 hours for two people! We thought that for sure we got taken! All we could do was laugh at how naive we are...but then an Indian passenger assured us that the bunks were for two people. Then we realized how fortunate we were that we were travelling together, bc those are too close of quarters to be with anyone that you aren't very close to. After the shock had settled, we ended up making a pretty cozy little area for ourselves, with a comfy bed comprised of all our sarongs and a sleeping bag. With the help of some pills, we ended up having the best sleep we had had the whole trip on that ride; and by the end we fell in love with our new little home. (It's the little things when you travel).

I'll write more tomorrow about what we found when we arrived in Goa! I would love to get into it now, but it is such an adventure filled with crazy people that I will wait till tomorrow when I am motivated to keep typing. Somehow everytime I try to write about one day it ends up being a novel!

So, I hope you all are enjoying the craziness that India has brought to us so far, and keep checking back for more stories from the road!


  1. WOW!! India sounds like such a wild adventure already! I feel like I'm there with you girls! Keep up the vivid writing!

  2. "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."
    Thanks for the awesome blog of the beginning of this amazing adventure! Shantaram is fresh in my mind, so this is adding to the imagination! xo