Mumbai claims to be one of the top 5 cities on earth though a quick look on Google and I can’t find anything to confirm that, also having spent a couple of days here I can’t see it either. It also claims to have some of the most expensive real estate in the world – Which I can believe.
In Modern Mumbai women dress in Levi’s, everyone flies round in Porsches and there isn’t a street beggar in sight – Did you get the sarcasm? Women dress just like they do everywhere in India, the best car I’ve seen so far is a Nissan; women have their own carriages on trains and own queues and the streets are littered with beggars who are mostly young children.
For instance we walked past this young boy about 4 years old begging crouched down this morning at 9am, at 8.30 tonight he was still there in the same spot.
In Mumbai gone are the Rickshaws replaced by Lada taxis (black cabs) It is illegal for them to refuse a fare yet every time we have tried to get one they have refused us. It is the law to use their meter yet everyone we have asked has given us some ridiculous price and claimed their meter is broken. The reality is that rather than give you a fair price by using the meter they would rather not take you. It is in Indian taxi driver’s blood to rip off westerners and they really are the bane of India.
Since no taxi would take us anywhere I figured out how to use the buses and trains. Basically the bus charges you per sector, so you pay the same whatever your distance. They are ridiculously difficult to figure out since none have anything written in English on them and the bus number is at the back of the bus so by the time youve seen it its gone.
The train system is easier; it’s also dirt cheap, amazingly each carriage is certified to carry up to half a million passengers and believe me we have had some fun with that 😉
So day one we went to the Gate of India, basically a huge gate looking monument on the harbour, not as impressive as id imagined and completely outshone by the simply stunning Taj Hotel opposite it.
The rest of the day the monsoon turned up, as if the already 90% humidity and 34 degree heat wasn’t enough the rain came. It brought with it rain so heavy the roads came to a standstill and the streets flooded. The thunder was so loud I could feel my coat vibrate. The kids loved it and I stood watching them play in the rain until I saw a bolt of lightning hit the building behind them, and then it was day over and good night.
The second day and we hit Mumbai’s biggest mall, in orbit is in Madal and about 40km north of where we are. We got the train and of course got lost. Eventually we got there and struggled to get a taxi as per usual and so walked until I managed to find a Rickshaw. The mall is big and my food radar kicked in and before long we were sat watching the pathetic excuse of a football team England claim to have play Algeria in Nando’s.
After that we went to the cinema and watched Karate Kid, the kids absolutely loved it and it was good. But for me you will never beat the original and it is basically a cheesed up kiddy-fied version.
The whole idea of the mall was to replace some of the kid’s clothes. Delhi really ruined their stuff, the city was so dirty that their clothes have it ground in and stained. I bought Abi a couple of dresses and Charlie some tops.
So far Mumbai hasn’t really lived up to my expectations and I hope it picks up because we were really looking forward to it.
I had planned to go to the slums to visit and see what it is like, but having already experienced poverty on this trip I thought better of it, our visit would be nothing other than a self gratifying perhaps patronising visit to see humans in absolute suffering.
Probably the only exciting thing we have seen in Mumbai was McDonalds, because Beef isn’t big on Indian menus, in fact I’ve yet to see it anywhere their big Mac is called Maharaja Mac, it is chicken and let me tell you gorgeous! In terms of what meat is typically on Indian menus it is Chicken, Mutton and Goat. No pork either, I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing since India is full of Hindu’s and Muslims it caters for both. Additionally I have it on very good authority that meat in India is dodgy. As such we have been joining huge parts of the country in being so far (well up until Nandos and Mcd’s) vegetarians and its fine. We usually eat Indian food and whilst it blows all our heads off we are loving it. I would love to know what some of the things we have eaten are though!
Here is to Elephant island tomorrow and Mumbai actually having something special about it.