LANDING IN MUMBAI 11/24/12 - 11/26/12
I wasn’t that excited about this trip in the days leading up to it because the packing, planning, and organizing was very stressful and I still didn’t have a lot of things figured out. However, once I made it through security and was on my own, I felt the rush of another adventure wash over me, and it made me suddenly just so happy. I’ve come to realize that I only feel fully alive when I’m traveling, There’s just nothing else that brings a smile to my face in quite the same way.
My first impression of Mumbai was that it is a city of busy madness. I thought that NYC was a busy city but it seems like a calm, easy-going place compared to the mad rush of Mumbai. I soon realized that traffic laws here are more like guidelines. On the way from the airport to the city, the taxi driver continuously weaved through the other cars, mopeds, and auto-rickshaws. Once we got off the highway, the local roads only got crazier, as pedestrians ran across the streets through traffic everywhere and red lights didn’t seem to mean anything but “speed up!” The fact that we were driving on the left side of the road just added to my confusion. When we walked around the city Sunday night, I found that I really needed to look both ways before crossing the street because my instinct was to cross after looking the wrong way.
Our tour around Mumbai really illustrated the massive range of wealth and poverty prevalent in India. Dhobi Ghat is a place where generations of poor have washed clothes for the rich for a couple dollars a day. What is crazy about this is that millionaire’s high rise apartments look right down on it. Then we ate at one of the fanciest restaurants in the city, at the top of the Taj hotel, where a courtyard with a pool was an oasis of luxury in a sea of madness. And not 200 feet from the entrance to the hotel are people sleeping on the ground and kids with no clothes running around while their parents try to earn a few rupees selling stuff to tourists. Meeting Joe’s family was a different experience altogether. Going to Sam and Beena’s apartment and meeting their kids was such a wonderful experience, as was meeting Sebastian’s family. Sitting in their living room, playing games with the kids, and talking with them about life and culture is to me so much more rewarding that a visit to any landmark.