Thursday, January 14, 2016

Mumbai Meanderings

Mumbai - Bombay - whatever the name... it is a city of many wonders and sights.  We had a FULL, FULL day of sightseeing in the city.

The day started at 4:30AM with the "Mumbai at Dawn" tour.  A unique tour that shows you the city waking up and all of the commerce and activity that occurs before the sun rises.  First, the fish markets to see the fish coming in fresh from the sea. No photographs are allowed down there because that was the landing spot for the 2008 terrorists (they came ashore on rubber dinghys from Pakistan).  So there's now heightened security along that stretch of water.

Then to an area of Mumbai where the newspaper delivery boys sort the newspapers.  Something you’ve probably never thought about:  India has more than 4,000 different newspapers in over 100 languages, most households subscribe to 2 or more papers and the delivery boys are illiterate.  So they memorize (by sight only) which homes take which papers and stack them accordingly on their bicycles for early morning delivery.  No lists, no notes, just memorization. Fascinating.

Next up: tea from a street vendor chai walla. The current president of India (Modi) came from a very modest background. In fact his first job was as a chai walla in a train station.  Could this man one day run the country?

On to the markets: vegetable markets, spice markets, flower markets.  The colors and smells are so powerful.

We got garlands for the girls' hair at the flower market

Next up: the poultrymarket and an opportunity to see the chickens being unpacked from the trucks and brought (dozens at a time) into the market area.

How about an entire row of open air barber booths?  Each barber / stylist has less than 3 feet of sidewalk space for their entire shop and the customer actually sits on a chair ON the sidewalk.

An opportunity to watch – and try – cricket

The kids also tried their hand at a traditional rope climbing exercise at a local community center

This arch is made up of thousands of Ganesh statues (Ganesh is the half man / half elephant Hindu god).  Every statue is unique and slightly different than the other.

Then a tour Gandhi’s house where he lived, wrote and did some of his most famous activist works.

My favorite Gandhi quote: 

The group spent the afternoon touring the Dharavi slum.  Our guide was a 24 year old engineering student who has lived his whole life in the slum.  Dharavi is home to over 1 million people in a 500 acre area.  That works to about 5,000 people per acre.  We toured both the commercial side (where the industries are housed) as well as the residential areas. Dharavi is bordered on one side by the railway line. The cottage industries generate over $500 Million US per year.

This is one of the slum's tanneries where the leather is cured and dyed and hung up to dry.

Last tour stop:  to try some deep-fried street food

We leave Mumbai tonight and fly to Aurangabad.  Tomorrow we visit the Ajanta caves, an all day excursion.


Unknown said...

It amazes me how these boys who cant read or write can memorize how to deliver newspapers and lunch with no notations.

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