Thursday, 11 February 2016

India Again!–well why not?

After a plane ride from Heathrow on Sunday,  we arrived at 11 o’ clock in the morning in Mumbai. After travelling for miles and miles on trains, in Tuktuks and taxis, we arrived at our hotel at 2 in the afternoon. Mumbai is a BIG place and home to 16.5 million people.


This first few pics are of the area where our hotel was situated. Our train journey from the airport highlighted for us some facts about rail travel. The train carriages are divided into ‘women only’ / ‘First Class’ / ‘disabled and those with cancer’ (there’s a Tata story behind this one) / ‘all others’. The trains don’t wait at the platforms very long either – having to squeeze onto a very crowded First Class section, James just managed to get one case on, then half the other one, before the train pulled away. He was then unceromoniously hauled in by two kind passengers as he ran along the platform! Doug was already safely on board of course!


Wonderful fresh fruit and vegetable stalls line the streets in our neghbourhood.


Although everywhere is terribley run down there’s an air of industry and business wherever we went. We (James particularly) got stared at constantly. We were literally the only ‘white faces’ to be seen and, with James towering above everyone else, we stuck out a mile! That said, everyone was extremely friendly and helpfull.


A row of woodworking sheds close to the hotel with metal working businesses across the street.


Ox carts still seem to have a place on the very busy streets.


A couple of Holy men walking down our street in the morning.


On Tuesday we took the train from Mubai Central Station down to the south of the city. This is the entrance hall – as big as Grand Central in New York but not quite as grand.


The southern part of the city (towards the bay) seems to have most of the fine old Victorian buildings erected by the British in the late 19th century. This lady sells balls of animal feed which you then feed to her cows. Clever bit of trading!


The south part of the city is much more open with grand buildings and terrifying amounts of traffic.


They’ve had good attempt at making a red London bus but it looks a bit as if “Fred” made it in his back yard!


The beautiful Gateway to India however, was not made in anyone’s back yard. It’s huge bulk stands proudly alone, at the head of the bay, and it seems to do exactly what its name suggests.


Lying back on the opposite side of the enormous plaza from the the “Gateway” is another huge bulk. That of the Taj Palace (Taj Mahal Hotel). Showing nothing of it’s recent tragic past the building is both magnificent and quite beautiful.


After veiwing the Gateway and Taj it was time for breakfast: Three cheese toasties and two cups of coffee – just £1.10! All the shade of a Banyan tree.


We took a taxi around some of the more interesting sights to be seen in Mumbai. As we didn’t know the city, and as it’s so huge, the taxi was a good idea and the driver very helpful to us during the three hour tour. First stop was Fishermans Village.


Poor it definitely was – men and dogs sleep on the floatation bags.


The fisherman and their families live in the most basic of housing while luxury flats rise behind them.


A pretty harbour scene very much hides the desperate poverty and hard work for the people who exist here.


A child and his dog sleep in the sunshine.


Fish meat drying in the sunshine.


The Victoria Railway Station was by far the most stunning building we saw during the day. Superlatives fail!



Just a couple more very proud structures, kept clean and in prestine condition.


Getting down to Marine Drive and the waterfront of the Bay. Everything being so huge and vast, and with the combination of heat haze and the city atmosphere ……..


…….. we could only just make out the limits of the bay itself.


A truly awesome privilege was to visit “Mani Bhavan”, Ghandi’s residence from 1917 to 1934.


James especially is a great fan of M K Ghandi – a truly humble but great human being who’s strenuous efforts eventually lead the Indian people to indendence. To be able to walk where this great man walked was a very special experience.


Photographs of the fifteen items which were Ghandi’s soul posessions.


The room in Mani Bhavan where Ghandi lived and worked (when he wasn’t living in a tent in the garden!)


A photo for posterity.


Next we saw the Hanging Gardens. So named because there is a huge groundwater reservoir beneath which the root of the trees “hang” down into.


Beyond the Hanging Gardens is an area of jungle, tended by people who live in these dwellings. The area is used for “air burials” – where the bodies of the dead are placed in the open for the birds of prey to pick the flesh from the bones.


Large numbers of eagles and kite circled overhead above the “air burial” ground.


Hundreds of very well behaved school children having their lunch in the Hanging Gardens.


From the Hanging Gardens you get a great view of Bombay’s “Bay”.


Our last place to visit was one of Mumbai’s biggest laundries. Probably the querkiest of things to visit it almost left us speachless! The taxi driver said he’d take us to see it but we had no idea what was in store for us.


Men work almost waste deep in concrete wash baths with little or no shelter from the sun.


This is obviously the Denim Section!


It was an amazing day we had in Mumbai, seeing many things we didn’t expect to see (including a “ladies only” train would you believe!). It’s the biggest and busiest place we’ve ever experienced. Truly amazing are the sights, sounds and smells of a city, home to 16.5 million people.

Well, eleven hours on the overnight train to Goa awaits us. And another unique experience no doubt!

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