We made it to India! After a four hour flight, we touched down in Mumbai at around 5:00 p.m. on January 24th
. Getting through customs was hassle free, although we found out that India requires you to provide a significantly greater amount of detail about your stay than the other countries we’ve visited. Baggage claim was a rather chaotic introduction to the “every man for himself” attitude that many Indians possess when it comes to waiting in lines. Even before there were any bags on the conveyor belt, everyone was pushing and shoving to get a good spot. When our bags finally came around, we had to fight our way to the inside just to grab them! When we had our things and were ready to go, we hired a prepaid taxi, which we’d been recommended to do since it’s the cheaper option. Unfortunately, our driver didn’t speak English and couldn’t figure out the way to Scott’s cousin Tara’s apartment (she lives in Mumbai and was kind enough to share her apartment with us for a few days) AND it was rush hour, which was insane. It ended up taking us almost two hours to get there after our driver stopped
for directions twice. We made it eventually, though!
We spent our first night hanging out with Tara and her friends, and she had some amazing Indian food delivered – I officially want to live somewhere where authentic, delicious Indian food can be brought to my doorstep. Than again, that may not be a wonderful idea… Anyway, we slept in the next morning, then ventured out to get some bagels at a shop near the apartment. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and planning our travels through India. We also passed the time by watching the crazy kites (a type of raptor) swoop dangerously close to Tara’s 12th
story window. Sometimes they would sit on the windowsill and stare you down…freaky. For dinner, we walked along the Pali Hill promenade, a seaside walkway in Tara’s neighborhood in Bandra West, until we reached some street food stands. There we ordered some momo’s, which are veggie/meat filled steamed dumplings, and a masala dosa, basically a giant crispy crepe filled with potatoes and spices. We finished our meal with some frozen yogurt – something I’ve been missing greatly for the past few months!
After a few days in Bandra West,
enjoying the quiet neighborhood atmosphere, we moved on to Colaba, the tourist district where much of Mumbai’s sightseeing is located. We happened to be there on Republic Day, so there were tons of people on the Causeway where most of the street vendors set up shop. We booked three nights in the Sea Shore Guesthouse, located right near the famous Gateway to India monument with a fantastic view of the Arabian Sea. We had a nice big corner room that was a little dingy, but not too bad. We made the mistake of sending out some of our laundry to be washed, though, which turned out to be a bit of a fiasco. Whoever washed our clothes drew black lines inside of them with permanent marker, supposedly as a way to distinguish them from other people’s laundry, but we weren’t a huge fan of this system. When we complained and asked for our money back, the staff were defensive, rude and unaccommodating. You win some, you lose some I guess.
On a more positive note, we saw some very interesting sights during our few days in Colaba. We visited the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum, formerly the Prince
of Wales Museum of Western India, which contained a variety of Indian artwork, as well as many religious and historical items. We also ate at a few awesome vegetarian places where I tried thalis and authentic masala tea (chai). For my birthday lunch, we ate at an Iranian restaurant, where a nice old man who worked there told us that we were “a good boy and girl together” and asked us to send his regards to Mrs. Hillary Clinton. We spent the rest of my birthday going to see Life of Pi in 3D, buying tickets to Goa at the hot, noisy and inefficient train station, getting stopped on the sidewalk and asked if we’d like to be in a Bollywood film (to which Scott sadly said no), and going to dinner at a fancy place called Trishna, where we ate amazing king crab legs covered in butter, garlic and pepper along with some paneer tawa and naan – yum! We topped it off with some fro yo for dessert, then hung out at Starbucks for awhile, where the barista joked with me in Marathi (I still have no idea what he said) and Scott took advantage of the free
wi-fi. All in all, it was a pretty sweet birthday. J Scott even bought me two nice pashmina scarves as a birthday present.
The next day, our last in Mumbai, we met up with Tara for lunch at a nice fusion restaurant where we had the most interesting and delicious boneless chicken wings EVER – they were chopped up and shaped into cubes, then fried and served with an amazing sauce…so good! We also had an array of other yummy tapas, and Tara kindly treated us! After lunch, we walked to the Gateway to India arch, where, surprisingly, I was bombarded by people who, for some reason, wanted to have their pictures taken with me. I thought maybe they mistook me for a celebrity, but Tara informed me that they were just from small villages and had never seen white people before. It was a bit strange but fun, and now I know how celebrities feel! We said goodbye to Tara and headed back to the hotel where I gave Scott a haircut – yes, ME, and I did a pretty awesome job for my first haircut ever, if I do say so myself! Afterward, we got some dinner,
packed and prepared to wake up early for our 6:55 a.m. train to Arambol Beach in Goa.
I absolutely love this country so far – the food, the culture, the people, and even the misadventures (which you’ll hear more about soon! I’m a bit behind in my blogging…). I’m looking forward to see what India has in store for us. I’m sure it will be amazing!
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