in india day one

So I’m now in Mumbai, India after two flights of around 8 hours back to back. It’s coming up for 10:30 on Sunday here, so midnight back home (going to have to post this later though because my room doesn’t seem to have web access). The flights were excruciatingly boring but that’s probably what you want in a long flight, all things considered. Toby was very good about saying goodbye – we’d primed him a bit on the fact that I was going away and he waved and didn’t cry when I left, although he did say he wanted to come too. Oh yeah, worst bit about the flights, apart from 16 hours in coach class – the movie “Monster in Law” with Jennifer Lopez. Just dreck.

When I arrived in Mumbai, off the plane and through the rather dilapidated airport past lots of uniformed and mustachioed officials. In fact so far most things (apart from my hotel) seem rather dilapidated on the outside which I guess is a combination of the type of building material used, the climate and the fact that this is an old city. So far the city certainly feels quite chaotic in some ways, although the officials’ attitude to who does what and when seems very strict – they seem quite teachery and bossy towards people.

The ride from the airport, through the dark city, was crazy. Fortunately a driver from the hotel was there to meet me which was a big relief. He was a nice guy too and saved me more than once from being hit by a bike or mini-taxi between the terminal and the car (no multi-story parking lot, just out of the terminal and you’re going past stray dogs and palm trees to your car). The airport actually seemed to be in a quiet run-down area, lots of falling-down types of store fronts and little corner stores, quite a few people around, and we had to swerve a couple of times because of stray dogs. First impressions: enormous city, felt like London in some ways due to its size and general mish-mash of buildings. Lots of people and it seems that when a pair of guys is walking down the street it’s the done thing for one to have his arm around the other. Also a lot of people, including children, sleeping on the sidewalks. Slightly surreal was when the driver asked if I�d mind if he played music � of course not I said, thinking maybe some Indian music, something clubby maybe. But no, crappy American rap which was a bizarre contrast to what I was seeing outside.

Breakfast just arrived – be right back. Although I should note that I feel like a total cheapskate because I don’t have any Indian cash so can’t tip anyone. Hrrmmm. And they’re incredibly polite here so really deserve it.

Back – pretty decent breakfast and good coffee which is just what I needed. Lots of things I’ve read and people I’ve spoken to tell me about being careful with food here, but I would assume that a highly reputable hotel like here would be OK. Arriving at the hotel was a little traumatic. After the very over-stimulating car ride I was quite dazed and when we got to the main entrance of the hotel there were tons of people around all dressed to the nines. There’s a nightclub downstairs here so lots of Mumbai’s wealthy young things hanging around, making me feel totally underdressed in my
shirt, shorts and sandals. Also the commissionaire guys were way indimidating – both well over six feet tall in long coats and turbans and massive mustaches. However I made it in and checked in no prob. My room is on the 19th floor of the tower (can still hear lots of car horns honking from up here) and I have an amazing view of the city, even though it’s hazy this morning. In one direction there are endless tower blocks, with some church-type buildings and domes. In the other is the harbor with cranes galore and around 7 naval-looking ships moored. Plenty of trees too, lots of palm trees near the hotel.

The guy just came to take away my breakfast tray and I’m a cheapskate still.

This afternoon the hotel have arranged for me to go on a five-hour tour of the city which I think I’m looking forward to. The whole place is kind of intimidating to be honest, but I’m sure I’ll be just fine, especially in m’chauffered car with a guide. Then tonight at around 8 I’m flying to Bangalore and have work to look forward to tomorrow morning.

One Response to “in india day one”

  1. [...] It’s not pleasant to read about, and seems quite immediate, especially considering that the first time I went to India I stayed in the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, so I can picture the locations where at [...]

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