Mumbai - City of Contrasts - and SmogFebruary 18 in India ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C
We have just finished two exciting days in Mumbai, seeing the sights and, with some expat help, getting just a little bit off the beaten tourist track.
It is certainly a city of contrasts. Designer boutiques and upmarket restaurants sit alongside street food sellers. Autorickshaws fight with Jaguars and Maseratis for a share of the road. We saw multi, multi-million dollar houses just a block away from the most appalling looking slums. Security is everywhere, bags are x-rayed at hotels yet motorcycle helmets are apparently optional and seatbelts are only compulsory in the front seat of a car.
And it is certainly polluted, with brown smog ever present, although as India first timers we aren’t yet smog experts.
On the tourist front, we took a (long) boat ride to Elephanta Island, then a (long) walk up the hill to the eponymous cave, dodging cows and palanquins, monkeys and sleeping dogs. A Hindu Temple, it was full of carvings of various Vishnus and Shivas and Ramas. Our guide gave an informed and passionate commentary about the detail in the panels, most of which went over our heads.
We looked in at Dhobi Ghat, an absolutely enormous outdoor laundry washing by hand some thousands of bedsheets and other clothing each day. We took a quick snap of the Victoria Terminus railway station and walked briefly through the Hanging Gardens.
Ghandi’s residence - part museum, part memorial, part library - was interesting and rather moving, the tumultuous recent history of India and his part in it quite well depicted.
We met Steve’s mate John, and a fellow expat called Anil, for a great dinner then spent the following day with them, looking at some of the construction projects they had been involved in and generally exploring to the north of the city.
For dinner, back near our digs, we went to Cafe Mondegar, very atmospheric and with a largely local clientele. The food and drink was delicious and inexpensive (and, as of the time of writing, safe and hygienic).
We were very lucky to have stayed in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, on the water right next to the Gateway of India and in the news in2008 when it was attacked by terrorists. It was great to take in the atmosphere of this grand old building and pretend for a few days that we could afford to do it all the time.
Today we move on to Varanasi and a new chapter begins.Read more