Mumbai!

Trip Start Feb 04, 2008
1
7
14
Trip End Mar 31, 2008


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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So... Now in Mumbai, or Bombay as it used to be called. It's good! Before I get into that, though, my favourite story about Arambol, the backpacker/hippy beach village where I was before here:

[Backgrounder: I had taken the overnight bus - a nightmare that deserves it's own entry, probably - from Hampi to Goa with a fellow traveller, an Austrian girl named Sonia. She had gone on to Arambol, which is a couple of hours away, and I had stayed for a few hours in Panjim, which is the Goan capital, to look around at the pretty Portuguese architecture, before moving on to Arambol as well. We met on the beach and she said she was staying in a certain collection of huts that I later tried to find.]

The village is really just a collection of huts along the beach with mainly unlit dusty paths running through them, which means that in rainy season it would be a real mud bowl. I rounded a corner, looking for a certain set of tourist huts and, as I did, heard a mother and son arguing about something or other. I"ve been here long enough to not be bothered by that so I continued into the yard and saw that they were arguing while he was pissing, junk in hand, into what would have been considered their front yard, the urine mixing with the dust to make pissy mud. With me there he got slightly embarassed - not as much as me, no doubt - and put on some underwear. So I asked him if my friend was staying in one of his huts with him wearing this ratty old pair of underwear. Never did track her down, with is just as well I suppose, as I left early the next morning.

My summary of Arambol: Lord Of The Flies meets The Beach.

So, to recap: since the last update, I"ve gone from Hampi, which was very cool but too touristy (you can tell the locals conspire to overcharge on absolutely everything, which often involves a fair amount of lying, which gets tiring), to Goa (the cities Old Goa and Panjim were both very pretty but Arambol was awful, full of slack backpackers, fat old hippy men, and that "we-hate-you-but-give-us-your-money-then-fuck-off" attitude from the locals which you get in any touristy but rural part of India, it seems) to Mumbai.

Mumbai is good! Definitely my favourite place so far. I'm tempted to stay right up until I leave, actually, though that's kind of crazy. The city's population is half as large as all of Canada, and 55% of those people live in shantytowns with often nothing in the way of what we expect a city to provide: roads, water, sewers, electricity, etc... The ones that don't, however, are filthy rich by Indian standards, which makes it kind of like the NYC of Asia.

So, for example, I could probably get some good rye bread, quality butter and a sharp cheddar (all imported, of course) if I liked, and have my traditional morning toast routine. It would most likely cost less than in Canada, but would be a king's ransom to your average Indian. Many people will pay around 25 cents for breakfast.

You can see English movies, buy lots of English books and magazines, etc - Indians, but specifically wealthy, big-city Indians, love to practice their English.

Food-wise, this city is, again,  NYC-like: lots of restaurants serving pretty much whatever you want. I had a veggie burger yesterday, for example, which would have been alien to most in Kerala or Tamil Nadu, but hey, this is a city of 16.7 million people, so you can find pretty much anything.

On the other hand, I had a thali for lunch today and it was definitely less soupy than those I had in the south. No less delicious, though! Not sure if they are all-you-can-eat here, though...

Currently suffering from a bout of gastritis, so not really indulging like in other places. Going to see a doctor to sort that out tomorrow, but until then, lots of bland food, eating lots of small meals instead of 3 large ones. Luckily in Mumbai you can find tasty food to fit all nutritional needs!

Anyways, let's see some pics:
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