Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mumbai Jumbo

Note: The photos on this blog are not all sized yet but you can click on most of them if you want full screen...and none are cropped or color's enough the blog is here. Disregard the stories if only to afford the time to take a quick look through all the pages of the photos as there are some really cool images here. To flip pages you have to click on "older posts" at the bottom of each page to continue on.
Also...what tales and amusing anecdotes I have put down are from my view.
I hope Lynne gets some time to add hers. -Bav

Lynne Cook and Mark Bava in India - Prologue:
When we finally decided to go to India, we were headed to Kerala to meet friends with our own huge itinerary to follow. From there, with only a one month trip we were going to attempt to see some of both the north and the south and we were going to try to hit Goa, Kerala, Hampi, Elora and Ajunta, Varanasi, Rishikesh, maybe Dharmsala, and back through Rajastan to Mumbai.
Its not like we were naive to the fact that this was completely insane, but regardless of how it went, Mumbai seemed to be the somewhat logical fly-in point.
We didn't use a travel agent and you sort of need to pre-book a lot of the train tickets and hotels that would be sold-out otherwise. Its tricky getting available tickets in the class you want without being committed to a hard itinerary.... having the freedom to wander as you wish can also get you stuck somewhere or without a place to go. Learning to use the India train timetables is another trick in itself.

All this took weeks of bookings, cancellations and re-bookings. Add that to Lynne and my decision making process and both our addiction to possibilities, and it was some kind of miracle...equal to manifesting ashes or flowers from thin air, that we even made it to the SF airport let alone to India. Plus it wasn't like we were 100% sure about the trip anyway. For weeks previous one of us would occasionally look at the other and simply say "India? ....really?" We knew India was changing and it was maybe now or never. I also sort of felt I should have gone in my 20's when everyone else I knew had gone. Plus every single.. everyone reminded us that we would get sick.."everyone gets sick" I heard, "make sure to only eat cooked meat, no ice cream, forget salads... especially tomatoes and eat only fruit you can peel and maybe you'll get lucky".

To make the decision, it was just a matter to buy a non refundable airline ticket. There was non-duality for ya...the decision was no longer in our hands.

And the of course... there were those damn $300 malaria pills... once again...the same ones we took when we went to Nicaragua and didn't need. I mean if you don't get malaria, you can still get dengue fever which there is nothing for. Who knows what taking malaria pills does on your system?...better to just not get bit and as they have cures for malaria, we decided we wanted to take the pills back...however, there is some things you can't take back to Costco; used malaria pills would be one.
A lot of decisions were beginning to be made for us. The Power was at work.

In the end, our friends couldn't go to India and we were left with these plane tickets and a trip for ourselves.
It was better this way...we are headed in a whirlwind of too many places plus Lynne and I have a propensity for looking for trouble.
If we ever were to need lawyers, guns or money, the less the better right?

Trip to Elephanta
Island and Mumbai

We came upon this art show in cars? Giant welded steel figures?

ala Burning Man?

Mumbai Overview

We had arrived a day later in India than was printed on our itinerary and because we had bought the train ticket to Goa in advance from the States based on that, we only had one day in Mumbai instead of two. I don't know how I didn't catch the fact we could never arrive within the same date we left.

With the day we did have, we went out to Elephanta Island, came back and ran around Colaba and looked at shops and stalls along the bazzar, the Museum of Contemporary Art, had a beer at Leopolds and ended dinner at the Taj...but the wrong restaurant at the Taj so we had an oh-so-wonderful Thai dinner for like $70 US. That's like a month of meals in Indian meals.

Its a shame we didn't get another day in Mumbai. We had just started to explore and had found a maze of old backstreets the north end of Colaba where we found some trippy Bhajan thing happening...more the likes of Indiana Jones/snakecharmer territiory.

We had also originally planned to quickly run to Ganeshpuri to check out if Gurumayi is really off shopping or what but we would have to leave this for when we returned... we now had to get to our first train station.
The Mumbai train station is among one of the busiest in the world and a couple of tourist fresh off the boat emerging from a cab there. probably looks like Ozzy and Harriet arriving at CBGBs.
There's no way you are going to look seasoned for this and everyone swarms in.
We had read about these porters at the train stations being worth their asking price. We took the first guy among those surrounding us. Good thing too, without this guy, in a hundred years we would have never figured out our situation. For one thing, I could only buy a "wait list" train ticket from the U.S. for this particular train to Goa as its always fully booked. Its not a hard copy ticket, its basicaly only a copy of your transaction. With this you have to go find if you have actually been ticketed and where you are if so. Our porter whisked us away and crowded up to a station window to get this info (and this redefines anyones definition of "crowding"), then ran us to one of hundreds of platforms, looked up our names on the list and got us in our train car and at our berth. For the 150 rupees he wanted... I would have given him 150 dollars at that moment in time and it would have still been worth it.

So we were in. ...ready to start our trip...and to discover that we had been double booked, two to one bunk for this overnight 12 hour ride.

In the end, somehow...with Lynne's feet at one end, on my head and vice versa, we sort of slept like sardined pretzels amongst a snoring neighborhood with chai vendors coming down the aisle yelling "chai,chai,chai" all night long. What the hell makes them think anyone wants chai at 3 o'clock in the morning I'll never know.

Being awake at least half the time, there was plenty of time for photos...

Ain't Goin' to Goa

When you get to the bottom of these many pages, you have to hit the "Older Posts" link at the bottom here on the right. When you flip to the next page, please click on the link at the top right that say "Ain't Goin to Goa" for the soundtrack to go with the photos.

Thank you....please continue.......

Friday, March 7, 2008


Did you click to the right on "Ain't Goin to Goa"? Is it playin'?

Many people told us it was a bit of a waste to go to Goa...go to India to go to the beach? What?...did we want to go party? If we wanted beach, why not go to Mexico or something and parties are almost constant in San Francisco, no need to go to India for that.
Their points were all well taken, but we also wanted a vacation on top cultural experiences and wanted to ease into India. My hardcore on-the-road traveler days are a bit over. Besides we were canceling Kerala which was the main place we had planned to go, so Goa was a compromise, killing many birds with one stone. Plus as artists sculptors, I thought Hampi would be a great place for us to visit and Goa was one of the jumping off points for getting there.
In the end...well.....I cannot be one to ever attest to how uncool going to Goa is. All I can say is;
don't go to Goa then.
The following photos should convince anyone to not go there.

"How much? for your women? How much for the Karnataka women?"
They're the gypsy women and of very trippy dress.

Our neighbor and resident philosopher - Phillip

The village........ a southern secret
for maybe a minute longer.

Oh help....[yawn]...... help...... get me out of here.........

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Our Goa wheels...a classic Royal Enfield.....

Craziest cat...Dereck, 12 year resident of his house.

The sign says GOSLOW.
We thought it was a town called GOSLOW. Its Go Slow.
Holy Cow placing order.....

Medicine Man...
Satsong with Osho masta'

Oh, help, ow, I can't take much more of Goa.....