She's Not a Bloody Monkey

Trip Start Jul 27, 2004
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35
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Trip End Dec 21, 2004


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Flag of India  ,
Sunday, November 21, 2004

According to the guide book & press we've read, Mumbai is the premiere city of India. It's the financial power-house, the home of Bollywood with its rich & famous actors. God knows where these people actually live & spend their money because it wasn't in the parts of Mumbai we saw. All we managed to see & smell were the homeless, the beggars, the hustlers, hasslers & the touts.

Perhaps you can tell that our time in India hasn't got off to the best of starts. We arrived at 1am Tuesday & after clearing the 4 (count 'em) security checks in the airport we were greeted by every single one of the 1 billion people of India. It was like Picadilly Circus at rush hour. Being the organised travellers that we are we hadn't bothered to book any accommodation. What to do? Why bother getting ripped off by a scummy person when you can get ripped off by the governmment? So we decided to use the the government hotel booking agency who told us one price for a room & then when it came to checking out the room rate had actually doubled!! Hurrah!! The tourist slogan for India should be "Welcome to India! We'll do our best to screw you for all you're worth."

The 'hotel' we eventually settled in was like something from a Dostoyevsky novel, though we did have our own bathroom - it was the other side of the hotel but it was ours.

Mumbai was very draining. Street sellers were constantly hassling, there were hustlers selling everything from balloons to cocaine & Kerry couldn't walk down the street without being stared at or touched up in some way; there was nothing Paul could do, these blokes were well practiced at a sly touch. The other very bizarre thing is the amount of photo's that we have been asked to pose for, with babies, small children and teenage boys (just Kerry). Some people do it subtly whilst pretending to take a picture of the landscape. others just ask. Paul gets a bit touchy when it is men asking for Kerry's photo (i think he wants to be photographed).

The beggars were everywhere & persitent, particularly the kids. We felt like baddies from Oliver Twist not giving them cash but you can't give to all of them. They've obviously been tutored in how to pierce the western conscience, they say things like "I need rice.", "I need sweets.", "I'm very hungry." or the ones carrying around a baby would say "Please sir/madam my baby brother needs food, please help." Heart breaking - at first. They follow you around, tugging at your sleeves/trousers & after the 50th time in 10 mins it gets annoying. And, although these kids can speak English well enough there are certain words they don't understand; principally "NO!" & any word usually associated with "...OFF!" We also got the impression that they'd soon as spit on you & rob you. Paul caught a girl who couldn't have been more than 5 years old attempting to pick pocket him.

Did some sight seeing - Gateway of India & Elephanta Island which were OK but not great. Went to see a Bollywood film which was great. Obviously it was in Hindi so we couldn't understand what was being said but the actiing & music were so OTT that we got the gist. During the interval (this thing was a 3 hours+ epic) some kind people (there were one or two) approached us & explained waht had been happening. Just watching the audience was as entertaining as the film; they really got into it, cheering, applauding & whislting at important parts of the film.

The highlight of Mumbai was arriving at the train station ready to get our train to Goa!
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