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Published: March 22nd 2011
Tuesday March 22nd, 2011
Today we have seen the complete spectrum of Indian life. I thought Bangkok Harbor was busy, but it is nothing compared to what I witnessed this morning. We left the ship early this morning and headed out into the city of Mumbai before most shops had opened. Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai is the most densely populated city in India. Eighteen million people are crammed into this jumble of Historic Colonial buildings, modern skyscrapers and slums. The streets were crowded, but traffic was still moving at a brisk pace. We made our way to the famous “Gate of India” on the waterfront. This large stone monument was built in British times to be used as an entrance way and landing dock for dignitaries coming to India. It was here that we boarded a ferry boat bound for Elephanta Island. It was a pleasant one hour cruise out to the island. After stepping out onto a very long stone landing pier we rode a small train to the shore. It was there that we began the climb to the caves. One hundred and twenty stone steps, plus many feet of walkway,
would bring us to the top and the entrance. I think all 1000 inhabitants were there along this pathway to greet us. They had numerous tables and shelves along the way with every conceivable trinket for sale. There were even many young men with chairs strapped to bamboo poles that would carry you “Maharajah Style” to the top for 450 rupees. The caves had been carved out of the solid rock in the sixth century and decorated with many statues of all the major Hindu Gods. No longer a “living” temple we did not have to remove our shoes to enter and look around. The site was really wonderful and everyone was so busy gawking that two different people tripped and fell down as we wandered around the uneven stone floor. One older gentleman cut his head open and Jane helped him until the official first aid team arrived.
The ride back across the harbor was appalling. The tide had shifted and was running out to sea at full force. I have never seen so much flotsam and jetsam (floating trash) in my life. I saw the deck hands on our boat eating potato chips and throwing the empty bags
over the transom. I don’t think the people here even think about the trash. The power plant was on one of the other harbor islands. The amount of air pollution coming out of the plant and subsequent smog hanging over the city was unbelievable. It was obvious that there are very different emission standards in India. We passed by a fortified island bunker in the harbor complete with machine guns and anti-aircraft artillery. You can see our cruise ship in the background behind the bunker. Military guards and Navy gunboats were everywhere we went today. But, all of the people were very friendly and did not seem intimidated by the military presence. Even the military men themselves were smiling and waving. When we got back to the Gate of India to unload on the mainland there were so many ferry boats tied up that we had to walk thru five other boats to reach the wharf. We passed some pretty rough areas on the way back to the ship and the last picture is typical of the many alleys that we saw. All in all it was a very fun day and I would have to say that Mumbai lived
up to the hype. Just double click on any picture to see a larger version.
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