Not knowing Mumbai very well and not sure where I should get off I had bought my bus ticket for "Central Mumbai" - thinking that would put me in the heart of the city and, from there, I would be able to figure out where I was and where I would go from there.
A little past 8:30 am we stopped and the driver indicated this was my stop. It didn't look like the heart of downtown. After I was off the bus I chatted with a guy on the street who, when I asked him where the central train station was, pointed and said down the street one block on your right side. I guess I was in the right place after-all. When I got to the train station I realized it wasn't the city center station though, rather it was the metro, or suburban train station for the Sion station...about a half hour, by train, from Victoria Station, in the heart of the city. Mumbai is roughly broken into three large sections - North, Center & South. I had been dropped off in the middle of "Center Mumbai" My bad.
Because it was Sunday, I was told, the train wouldn't be too bad for crowds. I would hate to see a rush hour weekday train crowd if this wasn't too busy. I ended up waiting for three trains to go by before attempting to get onto one. I'd seen this on TV so I was half-expecting it - but every train car was stuffed with people inside and hanging out the open doors. I'm still not sure exactly how I got onto the car with my pack on but I did. Thankfully the crowds started to thin out a bit two or three stops down the line.
I got a tiny room at a hotel right across from the main train station which was wide enough for the single bed and a small nightstand and long enough (just) for the same single bed. You couldn't really fit more than one person in the room at any given time, but the bellboy tried to get in there with me and my bags. For this I paid much more than the nice place I had just left in Goa and most of the other places I had been to in India.
Most of the day I spent over on Elephanta Island...I did get to the famous Gateway of India, where most boats leave from and an active place for tourists , locals and touts come to check out the harbour. It was nice, unfortunately scaffolding covered much of the next door Taj Hotel, said to be one of the top ten places to see in Mumbai.
The small part of Mumbai I did see, for the short time, was fascinating. The city is huge and so is the disparity between rich and poor. When I flew out the next morning to Chennai, on my way to Singapore, right beside the airport was a shanty-town that seemed to be visible forever. It was incredible to see and a large contrast to some of the other images of the city I saw the day before.
Leaving the hippies behind...time to make my mark in Bollywood! After a twelve hour bus ride, of course.