Continued from Mumbai Day 2.
I had a nightmare last night. Can’t remember what it was about, but I am sure the whole discovery of terrorist bombing in my hotel had something to do with it. Otherwise, I slept well since I was so physically exhausted from the hot and humid hike at Elephanta Island.
It took a lot of self talk to get myself out of the door today. I just felt lazy. It was nearly noon by the time I left my hotel room.
This is my best shot. There is no more room to back up for a wider shot. The building is magnificent and imposing today. Imagine looking at this behemoth back in 1888 when it was completed. It must have seem out of this world. The building looks fuzzy because the smog, fog, dust, whatnot is so heavy here today in Mumbai that everything looks fuzzy from this distance.
I had asked my taxi driver to wait for me while I snapped photos of Victoria Terminus. When I got back in the car, I told him of my next destination. First I told him to go to Dhobi Ghat, but then quickly changed my mind and asked him to drop me off at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum first, because it was closer.
Flora Fountain….wait a minute….this looks familiar! I was here two days ago, and this means we are headed the wrong way! I told the driver that we are going the wrong way and that we need to head North and not South. He can’t read the map, so he just assumed that I wanted to go to Prince of Wales Museum…sigh. He apologized and turned the car around. I told him to just drop me off at Dhobi Ghat because he seems to know its location without looking at a map.
Remember the big field with all the cricket players from two days ago? Well, there were about 10 times more people there playing cricket today. I think a tournament is going on because I saw many cricket players staying at my hotel.
I stuck my camera out to take a random photo of traffic and caught this disfigured man begging for money. This happens at red lights about as often as a homeless person begging for money in Austin. I am always approached first because I am the foreigner.
Dhobi Ghat. Open air human powered laundromat. Many hotels get their laundry done here. I wonder if my sheets from my hotel are washed here? Somehow, I doubt it. I bet there’s an industrial sized washer/dryer in the basement somewhere.
When my driver dropped me off at Dhobi ghat, the meter read 146 rupees. I gave him 150, and he gave me 50 back. He said that the 50 is not needed because he had gone the wrong way earlier. I am floored! He’s only not trying to cheat me, but instead is going the other way around!!! Nice people still exist, just in small quantities. I gave him the 50 anyway as a tip, and was happy to do so.
The only book I brought with me on this trip is Maximum City by Suketu Mehta. It is a book about Mumbai and in it these red gas cylinders are mentioned. I believe the state monopoly sets up a quota system for these, and not everyone can get them easily. The author of the book had to go through a loophole by getting a gas cylinder for commercial uses just to be able to get gas for his kitchen.
I kept on walking and I couldn’t find my way to the museum. There was always a fence or building of some sort preventing me from getting to where I wanted to go. Then I saw this in the photo above, and it made sense to me. This is a train station, and where I want to go is on the other side of the railroad. I had no choice but to walk parallel to the railroad until there’s a crossing…somewhere.
These are slums right by the railroad and these are homes. Each stall has a lower section and a upper section that’s only reached by exterior stairs. The downstairs is maybe standing height if you are short, and upstairs it’s probably barely higher than sitting height. I think upstairs is for sleeping and downstairs for living area.
Wait, I was trying to be romantic and talk about the railroad being the natural boundary separating the haves and have nots. I forgot that it’s dirty and noisy on both sides of the railroad, so it’s not exactly Beverly Hills on this side either.
I’ve never seen so many onions before in my life. All small round red onions. All the fruits and vegetables in India are typically much smaller in size than what we are used to seeing in the US. Poor farming practices? Weather? Lack of genetic engineering? All the above?
Small and a little past their prime. This is very typical of a street side stand here in India. As much as people argue for keeping it local, and saving the mom and pop shops, the reality isn’t as heartwarming. Because mom and pop shops aren’t coordinated, and because they are not as efficient, a much higher percentage of food spoils before it reaches the consumers. India suffers from this problem acutely because they’ve been fighting tooth and nail against letting in supermarkets into the city centers. So instead, all this food just spoils due to the inefficiencies.
To be continued at Mumbai Day 3 Part 2.