Continued from Mumbai Day 1.
First of all, over 5000 hits on this blog since this current journey started. Nice. I know I’ve inspired one reader enough so that when she visits India for the first time for work, she’s looking to extend her trip to sight see in India as well. I hope that this blog will inspire others to travel more as well.
The Canadian girls in Varanasi had been to Mumbai already when I met them and spoke highly of the stone cave carvings in Elephanta Island. Elephanta had already been on my list of things to see in Mumbai, so I’ll push that up on the priority list.
Back at the Gateway of India area. I got dropped off from the taxi, and looked for a ferry ticket booth. Of course, as I was looking confused, a friendly Indian guy came up to me and asked if I was looking for the ferry ticket booth. I told him yes, and he pointed me to the little shack with the blue sign. I knew something was up already, but I still followed him just because I was going to head towards those booths anyway. He brought me literally up to the booth and pointed out to me how much the tickets were and the timetable.
I made a judgement of the ticket booth and it looks legit. So, I decided to buy a ticket, and it was at this moment the helpful Indian man pulled out a ticket and was going to sell me the ticket. Woah woah woah! I told him that I’ll buy it from the counter and not from him, and turned to face the counter. Then I heard him cuss something in Hindi as he walked away. I wonder what kind of scam he was running. Why was he trying to sell me a ferry ticket right in front of the real ferry ticket booth? Was his ticket fake? Was it already used? It didn’t look like it had been used already though. Anyhow, something funny was going on…
The best chocolate muffin. It’s called a muffin but really it is a cup cake. And by cup cake, it really tastes like regular cake. And by regular cake, it really tastes like an Asian sponge cake. The best Asian chocolate sponge cake.
During lunch, there was a group of Indian girls sitting at the table next to me. They were all privileged and educated. They all spoke English, and only English to each other. They had decent command of the language, but spoke with a heavy Indian accent so you know English is not their native language. I’ve seen this often in India, and only with girls. I wonder why they don’t speak to each other in their native language? Perhaps they spoke different native languages? Do they do it to practice English? Do they do it because it’s in vogue to speak English? It’s always groups of girls who do this, never the guys.
I was told by the ticket counter to look for launch number 4. That’s very helpful except for the fact that none of the launches are numbered. I went to this long line, and asked if this was the line for Elephanta Island. Nope, this wasn’t it. They pointed me in another direction.
As I stood around, looking like a confused tourist, two Indian girls(at the foreground of this photo), unsolicited, came up to me and asked if I needed some help. Yes, in fact, I do. Which line do I wait in for Elephanta Island? They told me to just stand in line with them because they were headed for the same place. Girls are the best.
I never trust Indian men, especially the ones that come up to me unsolicited, but I always trust Indian women. In fact, whenever I need to ask for directions, I’ve learned to look for a woman to ask because she’ll usually give me detailed and accurate directions instead of blowing me off like the men. Indian men fucks me, and Indian women loves me. There, I’ve just summed up my relationship with the two different sexes in India.
It was an hour long ride to Elephanta Island, so I had plenty of time to observe my fellow passengers. There were some people here with their families. Some were here with their friends. Very few none Indian tourists though. I think I was the only non-Indian aboard this boat. Then there were the couples here on dates. Mumbai is more liberal and open than all the other Indian cities…or is it?
Remember how I had observed many Indian men who hold hands, but are “straight”? Remember how it’s typically not socially acceptable for a man and a woman to hold hands in public, but totally socially acceptable for two guys to hold hands?
Let’s not lie to ourselves. I am pretty sure a great percentage of those men are gay. But yet, ultra conservative Indian society is in total denial. Fuck that! I am going to start referring to these men as “Openly Closet”. The reason why I brought up this topic is because there were two openly closet couples sitting right across from me.
Sidenote. I am blogging here in the hotel lobby and the pianist is playing My Heart Will Go On. I wonder if I can put in a request…A request for him to stop playing it right now mid song.
While walking up, I ran into a British guy with the exact same shoes as me!! I’ve never seen anyone with the same shoes as me, not even in the States. Here I am in India, and I meet a guy with my shoes. Nice. In retrospect, I wish I had taken a photo of our shoes.
I went to the counter and paid for my 250 rupee ticket. The guy took 200, and gave me my 50 back. Eh? He said that I am good, and for me to donate the 50. What? Is he trying to scam me? I was really unsure, but he waved me through. I guess I’ll make an one dollar donation in his name, somewhere, to some poor person.
I saw this guy wearing a Texas Longhorns hat. I gave him a Hook’Em sign and said so as well. He was totally confused and had no idea what I was doing…He and his wife spoke some English, so I told him that it’s my alma mater, to which he replied, “what country is it in?”…I wonder how he came to acquire the hat? Did some Texas tourist lose it in India, and did this man buy it from some second hand store? Did he find it on the ground one day?
I am now closer to the smoke that I thought were caused by geothermal events. Well, it’s not geothermal. It’s a fire, because I saw flames. The whole mountain is on fire, and I don’t see a single soul fighting it. It does seem to be burning very slowly though. Still! The mountain, and therefore, the whole island is on fire and no one cares! Only in India.
I am thirsty and a little hungry. I’ve decided on a place to go around here. It’s right behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
Yes, there were indeed some tourists, but mostly locals. Lonely Planet spoke disparagingly of this place because it is such a known tourist hangout. Oh, the ironies. Lonely Planet, the great creator of tourist hangouts is putting a place down because it’s a tourist hangout.
As I sat next to the wall, I saw a couple customers come up to a picture frame in the wall, rotates it, showing a hole behind it.
I was curious, and I took this photo as I left Leopold Cafe. It was just a normal hole, what’s the big deal? I came back to my hotel and had emailed my friend CS that I just came back from Leopold Cafe. She asked if I saw the bullet holes from the terrorist attack. It all makes sense now. I looked it up and Leopold had bullets fired into the restaurant during the same terrorist attack that bombed Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This hole behind the picture frame was one of many bullet holes from that event. I am glad I stumbled upon this little bit of history and got a photo of it. Then CS said that when she was at Leopold Cafe with her friends, her friend ordered the beef burger and got sick from it…Fuck me!
I left Leopold with a nice buzz. All the physical activities today also made me feel great. I thought Elephanta Caves were just ok, but I feel settled and content today, and that’s all what really matters.
I asked my driver about the column mounted shifter. He even let me try shifting it for myself. From the passenger seat look towards the side of the steering column, first gear is top right, second bottom right, third top center, fourth bottom center, reverse bottom left.
Blogged and blogged, then eventually got hungry again. I don’t really want to pay $40 to have a full sized dinner though.
I just did some research on Wiki about the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. I kept on talking about Taj Mahal Palace Hotel being the site of the terrorist bombings. Well, it turned out that Oberoi Trident, my hotel, was also part of that same terrorist attack. The Oberoi Trident was also bombed and 32 staff members and hostages were killed in my hotel.
Now I feel all odd. On one hand, it’s weird to think about how I am sleeping above the very place where so many were held hostage and killed. But on the other hand, I feel more intimate and one with Mumbai because I am so close to a significant event of the city.
To be continued at Mumbai Day 3 Part 1.