Notes from Mumbai

April 7, 2010

~Mumbai’s intesnse hustle and bustle, yet manageable flow.
~So many diverse faces and shades of brown; Indians from all over the country.
~Grabbing a very expensive watermelon juice at Leopold’s. recommended reading for everyone: Shantaram.
~Ordering lots of food (paneer tikka masala, mix veg curry, pani puri, veg biryani, masala puratha, jaljeera juice- i.e. cumin, lemon, salt, water– ewww but good for digestion!) for Danielle’s last dinner before sending her off to Holland. Tear!
~Walking the streets of Mumbai for 5 hours. Arriving at the most beautiful Victorian style train station I’ve ever seen. Being exhausted, and then revived by fresh squeezed mint-sugar cane juice. Ooh, I want some now.
~Meeting Radhika (one of my fave yoga teachers from DC) in Bandra, a Mumbai suburb that I’d say is akin to DC’s Mount Pleasant or NYC’s Brooklyn. Taking her roof-top yoga class and catching up over a long Chinese food dinner. With her bro and a couple of his friends, she’s running an awesome social venture. Check it out:
~Ridinggggg the local train (I missed my stop and came to the last station. Lucky for me all I had to do was stay on while it simply reversed its route) to see: Haji-Ali Mosque- becomes an island at high tide; & Dobhi Ghat- huge clothes washing area of thousands of colors.
~Mango juice so tasty my eyes popped at the first sip.
~My first Charras offering, curbside (regretfully, I declined).
~Fresh chapatis with mix veg in a spinach ‘gravy’ and lots of yummy condiments. Eat that while being watched by every staff member of the restaurant– “mam, we noticed you like to take the hot chili coconut sauce with your food. That is very different from other foreigners.” 🙂
~Returning the next night and ordering what the waiter recommended: spicy chapatis and spicy mix veg in a spinach gravy; needless to say, I didn’t need the condiments.
~Pleasantly surprised by Mumbai’s cleanliness
~Peeing in the swanky Taj Hotel bathroom. Getting in trouble for taking a picture of a menu. ummm hellloooo!! 400 rupees for idly or dosas? Yeah, that’s about 20 more expensive than what it should be (we’re essentially talking rice flour dough here). Watching the very rich drink god-knows-how-expensive coconuts, pool-side. Stepping out the door and across the street, the familiar ache of nausea and repulsion arise;extreme inequality is dependable for that. Too many hungry mothers and children, whom the Taj coconut probably have fed for a month.
~Speaking of Poverty. Never ceases to be truly hard to fully comprehend. And there’s nothing you can do, especially as a tourist, aside from giving food here and there. Even then I feel uncomfortable sometimes, mainly for the fear that in some way I might be reinforcing some terrible system that uses children as beggars for economic benefit (a la Slum Dog Millionaire)– thus even the food I give I make sure is open so it can’t be resold, and I just hope that child eats it.
~Reading a newly found philosopher, Krishnamurti. Contemplating my place in this crazy world, my role to do something (or nothing), how and where and for how long, in a way that is appropriaten and does no harm (a matter that must be considered whilst intending to do good).
~Admittedly, getting annoyed by those (especially overly enthusiastic teenagers) that talk (or try to sell) too much
~Fascinating, beautiful, hot, diverse, exhausting, difficult, delicious, contradictory…

3 Responses to “Notes from Mumbai”

  1. Margaret Woodside Says:

    There used to a summer cook atRowe who lived in Mumbai for the rest of the year. She’s a yankee from Massachusetts who loves to travel and has found a way to live on the beach in Mumbai. She does massage! She loves it there. Has a shelter, cooks on an open fire and lives very simply. It always sounded scary to me. Your blog makes it a clearer that she could actually do this. I think she lives near a bunch of Europeans, too.
    Anyway, I’m glad you posted to your blog. I’ve been missing hearing about your adventure. Love. Margaret

  2. Hilary Says:

    wow– that is amazing. Super impressive go there alone and make a new home,with a very simple lifestyle. I’m not surprised she’s happy doing it at all, but it certainly takes a special soul! And massage would be a good thing to do pretty much anywhere in India (I have to admit, doing a massage course has already crossed my mind…but one thing at a time!) Thanks for all of your comments, they make me so happy to read! I will post more ASAP– hard to find the time, energy and a proper computer. Next will have to be Udaipur, New Dehli, Agra (the Taj Mahal) and, starting tonight, Himachal Pradesh (the Himalayas!). Though, I really owe blog postings that are dedicated solely to the food and the train rides….Lots of love, Hilary

  3. Chorizo Says:

    Booboo! I got your post card and loved it!!! I can’t believe its already been so long.

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