Saturday, March 8, 2008

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...

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