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the 4th and Final Phase - India...

Written on: Tuesday February 24th, 2009

A journal entry from: Trails in 2008

Mumbai

After a jaw clenching taxi ride from the airport through the sunday evening mayhem we retreat to our hotel, which was carefully selected to avoid the buzz of and dinn of the city, but when this city has 15 million people (and 60,000 taxis) we were a little naive to think we could escape anything!     In our suburb of Mumbai (which must have had at least half a million people) we are the only foreigners which is quite cool because people are very friendly but not cool because we are a beacon to the children, adults and pensioners alike who live on the streets and see us as an easy way to get some rupees for a meal. 

We were prepared for a complete culture shock so were pleasantly surprised when we found the city was just as manic as somewhere like La Paz in Bolivia - horns honking, traffic in every direction.  But if this was our first stop on our travels I think we would still be huddled up in our hotel taking refuge till we had to get back on the plane - its dirty, polluted and manically busy. 

Our major challenge was avoiding the commuter rush to get the train into the city (only 10p for 30 minutes).  The rush hour in London will NEVER be the same again!  We got onto the platform and our jaws dropped to the filthy floor when we saw the wrestle to get on a carriage.  People clawing over each other to get a hold of something before the train starts moving.  There are no doors so bodies spill out like a bubble, hanging on to the smallest part of the rim of the door.  Luckily there are womens carriages so I avoid the jungle but push Al into the throng of male commuters and hope to see him at the other end!  I wish I had taken a photo but I was in shock.

The tea is very milky and sweet, but the curries are great - particularly our lunches - called a 'thali' which is a round silver tray piled with rice, different flat breads and 5 little bowls with a selection of curries that keep getting refilled by attentive waiters as you eat.  We try our best to eat Indian-style, which is to keep your left hand down in your lap (being the 'dirty' hand) and eat with your right hand.  We are eating in nice restaurants rather than subjecting our stomachs to street food straight away, but its still cheap - our thalis cost around $6NZ.