A place of contasts
25.08.2009 - 26.08.2009
Got into in Mumbai in the middle of the night, which is the trade off for the cheaper flights. I loved Singapore Airlines, good food, you almost think that they are fattening you up for something, and thanks to the digital age everyone on the plane can watch a different in-flight movie. I knocked off three.
After clearing customs I was told by just about everyone, to take the safer option was a taxi into town. I decided on a cheaper way, by taking a 3 wheeled auto rickshaw to the closest train station and then a commuter train into downtown Mumbai. It was a good choice. Although it can be a little tough when you don’t speak Hindi and no one speaks English.
I started the day with breakfast at “Leopold’s’ the place where the Aussie writer/gangster of “Shantaram” fame used to hang out. You wouldn’t go there for the food. Then, off to the barbers for a shave. There is nothing like having someone give you a shave. although I’ve found that you tend to be on your best behaviour when they get to you neck area.
Walked through part of a large slum and contrary to popular opinion, they are thriving communities. Lots of small businesses, kids everywhere and lots of woman carrying water on their heads, who suddenly disappear down small alleys, (less than a metre wide), that lead deeper into the slum. Claustrophobia is not an option!
On my way back something unusual happened to me. I’m gawking at who knows what, when a guy says to me there’s something in your ear, I’m thinking it’s a tick or something, and let him take a small metal paddle to get it out. He proceeds to produce a paddle coated in wax, and mixed in with it, is a small black, waxy core. I am starting to think my personal hygiene needs a huge rethink. It’s around this time he produces his medical qualifications and the prices he charges for removing these dastardly black cores. It’s around R500 or $NZ15 a throw. He wants to look at the other ear; but I smell a rat, and tell him to fuck off, as I realize he is palming the stuff onto the metal stick. He then says he will take a lesser amount and I counter with what part of fuck off he does not understand and in good Indian tradition split the scene. He follows me for a while and I’m thinking I might have to give him a bit of kiwi.
I finish the day by meeting Raj, from Rajastan, (He speaks good English.), who tries to sell me a packet of postcards. You know the ones, printed last century with dodgy colours. As it is late in the day I say all I want is a beer, so instead we have a beer together. He also helps me find some toilet paper, which is about as hard to find as the proverbial rocking horse shite.. My budget hotel does not stretch to paper in the toilets. Hotel Lawrence is clean and cheap and that’s about it.
Anyway Raj is meeting me tomorrow to help me purchase a train ticket to Varanasi and help me buy am Indian shirt so I don’t look like a rich tourist. I wish! It will provide me with a cloak of “invisibility” to guys who want to clean my ears and then extort money out of me.
Well that’s about it.
A special hello to my lovely granddaughter Olive. Make sure you have lots of fun on your trip to Australia.
Regards to everyone
PS: The big Tside OB would impress over here…. and I have bought a phase book.