March 1, 2010

First of all, Happy Birthdays to mom and Mark!! Wish I could be there to celebrate with you!!!

Secondly, Bombay.

(to the left, a man in a horse drawn metal horse drawn carriage, waiting in traffic)

On Thursday morning I bought a flight to Bombay, time to get out of Yelahanka. I left Friday morning, after Surgam set me up with her taxi driver. At 9:30 I waited, drinking chai on the curb outside school. Chai here is 4rps compared to lovely Coffee Day’s 20rsp cup.  I waited, watching people slowly make their way to class.

Once in the cab, I worried about time-thanks to my dad, and watched out the window. I had one little backpack which was half empty, and I was on my way. For some reason, anxious, to be traveling alone. Silly, considering I have flown alone from Peru and again all the way to India. I have been flying alone since my 9th grade summer camp at UCLA, but what would travel be with out a little anxiety?

I arrived and was charged 300 rps, a normal fair to the airport, and a large man in uniform and a machine gun greeted me, looking at my passport, my face, and attempting to pronounce my name. Upon approval, he smiled, I passed. Searching the overhead for my airlines, I was again, greeted and very efficiently given my boarding pass and a free voucher for coffee at Coffee Day. I indulged before entering the security check point.

A sign read “ladies”, and I became immediately aware of the divide. About five lines were open to the men, and only one for the women. This was no problem, for the ladies line was not too long. The men went through the metal detector and were wanded down in public, where as the women were provided the privacty of a closed off room. Only women worked this sector, and the women in line had attitude, ready to fight each other for cutting line, for taking too long setting down their bags, for not wanting to set their bag down before directly entering the metal detector.

I explored the airport, checking out the cafes, the book stores, the perfumes and expensive clothes. Still not too expensive, I can’t allow myself to buy much at the airport just off of principle (and price). I did buy a magazine about technology and inventions for the trip, and sat down to read while I waited to board.

The plane, medium in size, welcomed very few passengers this morning, allowing each the luxury of his or her own row. The flight was short, I had to give in and buy food since I hadn’t eaten, but was graced with a delicious veggie sandwhich-also which came by means of coffee day-ON THE PLANE- I am fairly confident they own at least a large chunk of the world.

I arrived in Bombay and called Diya, who told me to meet her at Bandra Road. As soon as I took my first step off the plane and inhaled, I could smell the ocean. I took another expensive auto-which broke down- and was completely distracted with everything I passed. A new landscape, still an urban one, but very different. People everywhere, sleeping everywhere, begging everywhere. There were groups of people sleeping on the side of the highway-how-I have no idea, but this was no rare occasion. I passed an auto graveyard, and street vendors of all sorts. The auto turned the corner, and there was the ocean-and the smell of dead fish.

Diya and I sat down for some food- a REAL paratha. I thought the ones in the mess were good but this was incredible! It is a chipati of sorts with potato inside it. We went to a number of markets, yet I found myself paralyzed and unable to buy simply based on the overwhelming quantity of products. We stopped for a “million dollar brownie” at theobroma, and eventually found ourselves on the terrace of the Strand Hotel, looking out on the ocean. From the roof of the hotel, and in the closing of the day, the ocean looked nice, somewhere I would love to swim. Diya reassured me that this was not the case, and that I should wait until daytime, then re-evaluate. She was right.

We met her friends and went to a restaurant called Koyla. Walking past a handicap bicycle peddled by a hand device by a man with legs unsuitable for walking, we rode the elevator up to the top floor, and settled down in a beautiful rooftop restaurant. White sand floors, low lighting, large hookahs, and low couches presented themselves in the diminished daylight. A view of the city, the ocean.

We spent a lot of time up there, and eventually returned to the street level of

Bombay. The street level of crowds, of dogs, of people and autos. We stepped into a beautiful air conditioned car with a driver who took a bunch of us girls to a beautiful apartment. Huge, four bedrooms, bathrooms in each, a large kitchen, many balconies, and a beautiful view of the ocean. We had chocolates before leaving with Diya’s sister and her boyfriend. We took the sealink and talked in the car before returning to her sister’s beautiful apartment, where we stayed up talking before falling fast asleep

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March 3, 2010. Tags: . Uncategorized.

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