Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 4 - Mumbai

Feeling a little more rested this morning, but could still use some more sleep. I crashed early last night - while Ang was still Instagrammimg - but we both woke up at 1am to pee and couldn't go back to sleep again! Ugh. 

Alarm went off at 7:30. We hopped up (well, I did. I had to wake Angie up, haha) and got ready to go for the day. It was monsooning again outside. I think we made that word up? Maybe not. When it rains here, it really rains. And then it just stops and it's semi-cool -- with extra extra humidity. :)

So anyways, we had to be at the Churchgate train station at 9am, and it was like three stops down. The guys we're staying with said maybe to just take a cab there since rush hour on the trains can be a little maddening. We wanted to get breakfast first, but that didn't happen since we were a little slow moving. Thank goodness for my giant (and dwindling) bag of food! I had a granola bar and a banana I brought with me from Newark. 

I feel like I'm in my pajamas all day in these clothes!

We set out around 8:30 and the streets were much more crazy (if you could imagine that) than they were on Sunday. Cab drivers were clamoring to get us, so we just got in. Asked how much, he said 100 rupees, and we said fine. That's like less than $2 for a 15 minute can ride. Apparently that is WAY too much because he made this ridiculous face and then they all tarted laughing, haha. We really need to start bartering on cab rides I guess. 

So many people were out this morning. Like, SO many. Lots of kids going to school. The lucky ones anyways. Walking through mud and piles of trash or four of them riding on a motorcycle... I just can't imagine. 

Our guy dropped us off on a corner a little ways away from the actual train station, and we realized we were really close to where we were yesterday. Starbucks was just a few blocks away! We walked in to a cafe and couldn't find anything to eat, so went to a different one, Cafe coffee Day, and had coffee (Ang) and two croissants (me). Breakfast must not be a big deal around here. 

Angie: THIS is the biggest coffee they have here?!

Walked across the street to the train station. Had to ask for directions because I was a little turned around. Had to walk under the street. I needed to use the bathroom, and of course there wasn't one at the coffee shop. So I had to use a nasty one that you had to PAY for at the train station. I think if you have to pay it should at least be clean. It wasn't. 

WHY didn't I go number two back at the house with the Western toilet?! No toilet paper or soap or anything here. Thank goodness for my 18 packets of Kleenex and 6 bottles of hand sanitizer I brought with me. ;)

We were looking for a book store inside the station to meet at. It wasn't hard to find since there were 6 other white people standing there, haha. Our guide showed up on time but we had to wait awhile for some other people. I already had sweat running down my back and some serious boob sweat going on. And we were INside. 

Around 9:30, our guide handed us two train tickets and we followed him on to the train that had just pulled up. I  not exaggerating when I say that we didn't see one female by off. Just hundreds (thousands?) of men. Staring. It's almost creepy the lack of women we have seen here. The bus was ... we'll say a little run down to be nice. At least it was empty now (Churchgate was the end of the line.) Old hard seats and just filthy. We're going to be on this for FIVE HOURS on Thursday?? No way. Not happening. 

20 minutes and several stops later, we got off at Mahim train station. (At Mumbai central station men literally came running on to get a spot and we couldn't even move it was so packed!)

Of course it was monsooning again when we got off the train to start the slum tour. We were paired up with a couple: a super bitchy girl from Canada (who didn't want to be there at all) and her boyfriend from London. They were so unprepared. Canvas tennis shoes, a little tight white tshirt, leather purse, and no umbrella. Come on. 

We decided to just go anyways - hoping the rain would end soon. (It didn't really) The tour of Dharavi slum - the second largest in Asia next to Karachi Pakistan) is one of those things you just can't really put in to words. And no pictures were allowed! About the only one I got was on the bridge in to the slum...

It was actually pretty similar to the slum I went in in Rio. I mean it's like it's own little working city. They are the second largest producer of leather goods in all of India. Tons of recycling and embroidering and clothes making, pottery making...a market and hospitals and even a bank. They steal electricity from the government, have open sewage running down the streets (that we were walking through when the monsoon rain brought it down), little tunnels to walk through with ladders leading up to their one room houses. It's all just crazy. Crazy. We went all through both he industrial side and the residential side. I don't remember the statistics the guy said, but a large percentage of Mumbais population live in the slums.  

Towards the end of the tour (soaking wet and filthy), we went to a community center that the tour group we went with runs. 80% of the profits they make off the tour to to help the community. Pretty cool! There was a class going on upstairs - steep stairs - for older kids, and I totally disrupted the class of little kids downstairs by handing out stickers. :) So many of the good pics are on Angie's phone, but these will do for now. 


Our guide got us a taxi once the tour was over because we wanted to go to the open air laundry facility at Dhobi Ghat. Pretty much all of mumbais laundry goes to this place where men beat it against stone compartments and hang it to dry. The taxi was taking forever and traffic wasn't moving, so we decided to just get out and walk. Luckily we were really close.  It was pretty wild how many things were hung up there. Two little very cute and very persistent girls would not leave me alone, so I bought three little jeweled bags and three little elephant figurines from them so they would go away, haha. But not before I had them get in a picture with Angie and I! That's on her camera too, but here is Dhobi Ghat. 

We were feeling more confident about the trains now so we decided to get on at the station right next to Dhobi ghat and ride to one closer to chowpatty beach to find some food. When the train pulled up, we ran to a car that looked pretty empty - not were packed with men - and hopped on. Only to realize that it was the handicapped car! Whoops! The two old people on there told us that was what it was (Ang saw the sign as we were jumping on) but that it was okay for us to stay. We were only going down a few stops anyways. We got off at the stop before Churchgate (the last one on the line) and walked up and over the tracks in the rain twice before figuring out where we needed to go. Everything is so confusing here!

Angie was dead set on trying these food stall street vendors for lunch. I was starving and took her in to the first restaurant I saw that looked really fancy, but we ended up at the street vendors on the beach after about a 5 minute walk. The food was suspect. Nothing looked clean and we had no idea what we ordered, but hey, we had a decent lunch under a tarp for under $2 total! Now here's praying it doesn't come out the other end in the form of liquid fire...

The guy "washing" the little plastic dishes was dunking them in a bucket of dirty water and then putting them back up top for the cool to use. Sick. I had some sort of rice with peas, tomatoes and cheese on it (bhelpuri) and Angie had pav bhaji. Neither were that great, but I think that counts as our authentic Indian meal. 

We were right on Chowpatty beach, so we wandered around down there for a little bit before deciding to get some ice cream. We've really lucked out with the weather. Although its rained on and off a lot, that has held the sun at bay!

Ice Cream Works was just across the street. If only crossing the street were that easy. I swear it is a serious threat to your life trying to get across any street here. I don't know how more people don't die from it. Or maybe they do and we just don know about it. Drivers just don't care and they are everywhere!!

We sampled some different flavors, and I ended up with an orange, lemon, ginger kind. It was so refreshing! And I thought a little cool milky ice cream might calm my stomach from the stuff I just ate for lunch. 

It was around 3pm, so with some time to kill, we decided we would try and walk to the chor bazaar. I hadn't heard about it but Angie had. And It didn't look too far on the map. Wrong. It took us forever to get there. And I've never been stared at so much in my life. It's funny when Angie walks first be wise they look at her, trying to figure out what she is. Is she Indian? She has the darker skin, and dark hair and eyes, but is taller and doesn't wear the Indian clothes. And then by see ME behind her, and they know I'm not normal, haha. It's like they've never seen light hair/skin/eyes before. We obviously weren't in a touristy area. We didn't see one other tourist that whole time (walking to, through, and back from the bazaar). 

Anyways, we finally found that stupid chor bazaar after a looooong walk and lots of stopping to ask for directions, and we were both disappointed. It was like a bunch of junk. Used tools and car parts, some clothes, antiques. Just not that interesting. 

However...we heard some loud music and saw a group of people standing outside a building. So we went over there and looked in, and saw a giant group of people forming a circle around some people dancing. They saw me watching, and a couple of them waived me in. Heck yes I will dance with you! I told Ang to get the video camera on. I was going in, haha. Some old ladies took my water bottle for me, and once I got in the circle, everyone wen nuts cheering and clapping, and taking pictures. Hahaha... It was just hilarious. Ang got out there too, and we just kind of shuffled around, not sure what was appropriate. But those grandmas were gettin down. For real. I was shocked! Every time a song ended and we tried to leave, they Ll cheered, "One more! One more!" We eventually jut forced our way out, but what a crazy experience. Still have no idea what was going on. Can't wait to see that video!

Traffic was still awful (is it ever not in this city?) so we decided to try and find our own way and just walk back to the apartment. It took is awhile, but we found it. 

We were both mentally and physically worn out. We pretty much walked all day. And all the people and commotion and filth and honking (constant honking) are just exhausting. And the AC felt glorious. I am one hot muddy mess right now. 

We were just too worn out from the day to clean up and get back out there for dinner. After some debate, we drudged down the stairs and into the honking. Went across the street to a restaurant and we just weren't too sure about the place. Walked by some street vendors and had no idea what food they were even making with their dirty hands. So we said forget it. Came back up to the room, sat on the floor, and had a three day old pbj I made before I left, a bean salad I bought in Newark, and some beef jerky and granola bars. What a dinner! We wanted to go out to a nice place or be more adventurous, but decided one street stall was enough for today. Didn't want to push our luck. (And neither of us got sick from that - yet - by the way!)

We showered (so much for thinking I wouldn't have to shower that much) and re-packed up and are going to go to bed early tonight. Have to get up and out the door by 7am to catch our 9am flight to the other side of India for the well dedication!

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