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Published: June 10th 2008
I thought i had experienced India's monsoon back in 2006, but now I'm not so sure. I've never seen India quite like this. It rains, hard, night and day, and when it stops you find yourself looking at the sky and thinking, 'something's not quite right here.' Then the clouds come again, and all's right with the world. Most of the things i own are drenched, and we are often in cabs that conk out in the puddles, but Mumbai has never been so charismatic in my eyes. In our two days here, we've been busy. The Mumbaikers are mad for this monsoon weather, and people at the Gateway of India were deliberately standing right by the sea wall so that the massive waves would drench them. Why not, eh? We walked out to the Haj Ali Dargah, an Islamic shrine that's out at sea. You reach it by walking along a causeway that's consumed by the ocean at high tide. I tried paan again (a digestive that makes your spit purple) and remembered i don't much like eating things wrapped in leaves. A large crowd gathered to watch me spit it out. It happens. We spent a dusk evening at
the Banganga tank, whilst temple bells rang and a small man fed a large group of slightly frightening geese. There were frogs hopping about on the steps and kids playing by the waterside. I'd just visited the Mahalaxmi Shrine down the road, and whilst I'm not religious, it felt enchanting to stand in front of the goddess with the sound of the waves nearby and the smell of lilies in the air. Our Saturday night started at half seven in Cafe Ideal, singing 'Tere Bin' and 'Kya Muhje Pyaar Hai' along with the regulars, then moved onto the Club Lounge at Juhu Marriot (dead - football on - atmosphere like an airport lounge), swung by Vie Lounge (Seth likes it's beachside location), went on to Aurus (cool but quiet), took a turn for the seedier side at Love Bird (men throwing money at dancing girls), and ended up with some dancing at Poison and Bling. Back in bed around 5am. Hungover to hell when Seth forced me to get up three hours later. I was feeling pretty delicate for the rest of the day, which is no state to explore Crawford Market in. If you can imagine being in the
pouring rain, in a huge muddy market full of caged birds, raw meat, watermelons and pineapples, stepping on dead chicken feet by mistake now and then, with a head full of nails, you're with me. It's not a place for flip flops. There were so many things getting inbetween my toes, i didn't want to look down. People were very curious and friendly, but when we saw people weighing up piles of bones (think ribcages, pelvises, hooves, etc.) whilst rats scuttled by, and found ourselves in a soaking wet room full of puddles of blood and meat hooks, i was really needing an alka seltzer and to get the hell out. We did laugh about it and discuss the fantastic intensity of the market when we got back to our hotel an hour later, but only after we'd disinfected our feet.
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