Notes From Mumbai
Today – a nice day, full of sunshine with brief, very brief periods of rainfall. After all, it is monsoon season. Nevertheless, it might as well have been one of the nicest days I’ve seen here since arriving in India. I got up relatively early, perhaps it was the damp, mildew-y sheets that woke me, but I couldn’t fall back asleep. It was only 0830.
At around 1100, Paulina and I headed out – our goal being to find some decent breakfast around here that did not consist of masala. At around 1130, Paulina and I found ourselves sitting back in our hotel room, ordering room service for some plain omelettes that wouldn’t even fulfill a starving child here in India, plus some untoasted toast with jam that tastes much like Bubblicious gum.
1230 – The Hindi word for bridge sounds something like “ceiling” – Paulina and I discover this as the taxi driver today, much like the guy yesterday, kept repeating the word and looking over to well, a bridge. Rather than sitting in the god-awful traffic that is India, we pay an extra 50 rupees to cross the bridge, in hopes that the traffic might be less severe. It was. But it still takes us an hour to get to the Gateway of India.
1300 – The Gateway of India is quite a site… not so much the monument itself, but the people around it, the sea that surrounds it, the Taj Mahal Palace, the pigeons, the horse-drawn carriages. Much like the rest of India, none of it really fits with each other, and none of it really makes sense, but somehow when they all come together in this place, it miraculously works… the people feed the birds, the pigeons come and go with the people, they fly towards the Taj Mahal Palace and appear as a shadow depending on the angle of the sun. The horse-drawn carriages are quite flamboyantly decorated with heart-shaped balloons all around, but I’ve only seen groups of Indian men ride on them together. The sea, afloat with everything from Sprite bottles to plastic bags to other garbage, is festooned with colorful boats of blue and red, blue and orange, and dark swimming children. The people… tourists and locals… take pictures of each other. Paulina and I joke that we’re local celebrities here – if we had a penny for every picture that has been taken of us, we would have enough money to buy our own islands and build a castle on it.
1330 – After much hustling and pictures by many people, Paulina and I board the boat to Elephanta Island. On the boat, I must have had three dozen photos taken of me… sometimes the men try to be discreet, but even when they try, they’re not. Nevertheless, they’re almost always polite, even when they’re drunk at eleven o’clock in the morning.
1530 – Arrival at Elephanta Island – Paulina gets attacked by a monkey. That’s all.
1730 – We meet Vivica… she lived in China for 3.5 years teaching English – incredible!!! Oh also, not the parts of China you would think… but the village-y areas… rural, totally rural.