Published: January 15th 2012January 15th 2012
Second update from the land of diversity.
Some new discoveries:
- we love ladoos (Indian sweets, the ones we love with Sesame)
- too short jeans shorts and hole in 'the area of the bootay' might be fround upon (at least it attracts some intrigued eyes)
- argue with taxi driver over 10 Rs (= 14 cents) might not be worth the trouble (especially not in unknown dodgy area)
- Chalo [tschello]
is the best word ever.
- love the areas Colaba, Churchgate, Fort, Bandra, Kalbadevi and Kala Ghala.
Since our last entry we've basically had an overdose of impressions. On Saturday we had a full day of guided tours, first in Mumbai in the morning, and then on Elephanta Island in the afternoon. On our city tour we had an amazing guide called Dilip who was great at answering all our 1000 questions. What we saw was everything from Malabar Hills, a very rich area where the governor of Maharashtra lives, among other politicians and rich people, to the beautiful ocean view from Marine Drive, to the Hanging Gardens and the Tower of Silence and so on and so on.. One thing which we especially noticed was the overwhelming impact which the British had when India was under British rule. Signs, buildings, left-sided traffic, street and house names, a lot of them based on the influence of the British.
After our amazing tour which lasted for 3 hours we arrived at the Gateway of India, where we took a boat to Elephanta Island, a one-hour trip from Mumbai. When we arrived we were immediately approached by the sweetest local (whos name we CANNOT spell btw) who took us for a tour around the island. The island has approx. 1 500 inhabitants, generally living of tourism in different forms. Not included in the 1 500 inhabitants are the monkeys, cows, goats, dogs etc etc etc walking around, some more aggressive than other (Catharina said "Na du Fetti" (What's up fatty) to one of the cows which got VERY upset with her, to say the least..) Except wandering around in the mesmerizing Elephanta Caves, which unfortunately were destroyed by the British (or was it the Portuguese?), we saw monkeys doing some serious product placement drinking Fanta and Sprite while chilling in a tree, we learned some new words in Hindi - our favourite one being "Chalo" (='Let's go'), and also helpful ones like "Namaste" (mostly meaning Hello, but used for Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening too) and "Dhanyavaad" meaning 'thank you'. Leaving Elephanta Island we saw the most amazing sunset (yes yes - pics will be here shortly) - what an amazing way to finish an amazing day!
Not over yet though. As the naive Europeans that we are, we figured that we would arrive at the Gateway of India where we departed from. This was not the case. We arrived in something which looked like a warehouse for boats, PRETTY far away from Colaba where we are staying...! It was completely dark and the cabs that we could see were rapidly taken by other boat passengers going towards Mumbai. We found one available taxi where the driver agreed on 60 Rs to Colaba, but wanted to make a stop at a Kashmir store on the way. And, based on the heads-up which we had gotten from our lovely local (whos name we still cannot spell) who said that the cab drivers are going to rip us off when we get to Mumbai - we said:
- 'No No No Mister - 60 Rs directly to Colaba'.
(My, are we good negotiators or what!)
- 'Ok, but then 300 Rs, non-stop.'
This was not a deal which we would want to settle for. So we decided to start walking... The further we got, the lesser the people and the more the unbelievable smell of garbage, urine and everything else under that category. And this in complete darkness. We pretty soon understood that we're not in the greatest area to be in when it's dark and there not are that many people around.
Soon we got to a security booth, who helped us to stop a bus which was passing by which took us to the nearest main road. From there we took a taxi towards Colaba, all good - so we thought. After having a pretty uncomfortable dispute with the taxi driver over 10 Rs - we dropped our "good negotiators'-act and agreed on the price, arriving in Colaba - happy to go to bed.
Today we were in a different area of Mumbai, close to Khar Road, in the Bandra district. We absolutely loved the atmosphere, but were somehow so tired that we basically just asked a Ricksaw driver to take us to the nearest cafe on Linking Road (a big shopping street) where we stayed all afternoon, reading and drinking water.
Tomorrow we are continuing our journey towards the City of Light - Varanasi. We are going to travel by train for 30 hours, so we believe that we will have some interesting stories when we get access to Internet again. We are very excited about our upcoming journey and stay in Varanasi - so stay tuned.
Love - A & C