My journeys are continuing and I’m appreciating each one. I recently spent a whirlwind three days in India. I flew into Mumbai and was overwhelmed with the fast pace of the country and the conditions. Even still, it was a rewarding experience.
As I rode in the taxi and escaped death many times, I gazed out of the window and saw rows of people sleeping on the streets. Many slept in the same spot that they worked. Some even had beds pulled out on the sidewalk for sleeping. The streets were lined with shop after shop of produce stands, hot food stands, clothing stores, barber shops and many other types of shops. Housing conditions are difficult to explain. They remind me of some projects in the US but much worse. There are tall structures coated with dirt and clean clothes hanging out to dry. Garbage lined the streets and the air was thick with pollution. The smell of sewage lasted about 15 minutes on the ride to the hotel. The taxi driver didn’t speak English so it was a challenge to get to the correct place but I was happy when I finally arrived to the hotel.
Before I continue, I must say that while I took in the level of poverty, filth, and lack of appropriate sanitation, I am not judging. I was happy to be a guest in a country of people who were very welcoming. Living in Doha, I have come in contact with many people from India and I was excited to see their country. The experience is one I will never forget.
I stayed at the which is attached to an amazing mall with many high end stores. Leaving the conditions that lie just beyond the drive of the hotel, I felt odd going into such luxury. The hotel itself is beautiful. The grand staircase welcomes you as you exit the lift. The modern furniture was beautiful and comfortable. It truly is a five star hotel and the service was impeccable from the moment the taxi door opened. The room was rich with character and spotless. There wasn’t an amenity that I missed while staying there.
My arrival was at 0300 so I needed a little sleep. After waking up, I decided to take the ferry over to Elephant Island to explore the ancient caves. Hopping in a taxi, I headed to the Gateway of India, where the last British soldiers left after occupying the country. The Gateway courtyard is lively! It’s packed with people, many of them natives. I found this to be very different from other countries I’ve visited. Most places, the tourist sites are packed with foreigners but that wasn’t the case in India. Almost immediately, the response from the local people were to ask to take my picture and to take pictures with them. I did and it brought back memories of my experience in China. I’m sure I took close to 20 photos with people.
Trying to figure out how to purchase a ferry ticket and get on the ferry wasn’t the most straight-forward process but I managed. On the ferry, the people were lovely and chatty. There was a young couple with the cutest baby. They wanted pictures and they asked lots of questions. It was awesome.
There was quite a walk to the caves. Along the way, I encountered cows and monkeys. Several cows and monkeys. Them I began to realize the sanitation issues. The animals live amongst the people. They drink from the same rivers and they wade and bathe in the same waters. It was quite interesting.
As I trucked along the path to the caves, the walkway was lined with souvenir and jewelry shops. I managed to purchase a couple of things for a great price. I spent time at the caves and learned a lot.
Catching the ferry back was an adventure too. The boats are lined up side by side and you actually walk across each boat to get to the next one. I held my breath each time they tossed a kid to the next boat. I was praying no one fell between the boats. I got lots of smiles and stares on that boat ride; mostly from the women. I was later told not to be offended, they just don’t see many black foreigners. What’s most interesting is that I too admired many of them. I find that Indian people are beautiful people and their hair is amazing!
I made my way back to the hotel and prepared for a fantastic five star dining experience at Japanese restaurant. Every morsel I put in my mouth was spectacular! I had broiled edamame, shrimp tempura roll, vegetable stuffed pancake that was astonishingly good, duck breast with apples and sea bass. I accompanied it with a bottle of Indian wine. It was an incredible meal with incredible service. The place is located on the 38th floor so the views are great. It’s an intimate setting as well.
From there, I headed to the rooftop bar, Asilo, which was lined with white furniture. It has a clean look and great views. It’s a nice place to just relax. They have amazing cocktails. Between Yuuka and Asilo, I had a great time. I wish I would have had more time to explore the dining option at the hotel.
Day 1 was action packed.
Living life…and it’s good!