Saturday, December 12, 2009

Absolutely Mumbai

If I had to describe Mumbai in simple terms, it's not the "Maximum City", but the "Extreme City". There's nothing in moderation as it rises from poverty to luxury, from pollution to green consciousness, as well as my own emotional roller coaster. The other night, my husband and I took a cab into downtown area by the Gateway of India. We always do this. It's a touristy spot, but it's fun and always reminds us that we've arrived in this city.

Delight: Seeing all the sidewalk stalls and picking up silk scarves for $1.50 each (easily $25 in US). The earrings and jewelry made my mouth drop.

Disappointment: my husband pulling me away.

Anger: Walking into the Taj Hotel and remembering how one year ago terrorists walked through its halls gunning down people as they wished. "26/11" is still on everyone's minds when you walk through the metal detectors and security.

Awe: Seeing Tulsi Pipe Road wall where people painted and expressed their pride and strength in the city in the Wall Project. It's not just one block of wall - it's a serious wall of length with intricate work. It raises street art and graffiti to the next level of community expression and pride. This is the voice of Mumbai - not anyone else's. By the way, I love the murals all over Philadelphia and it changes the way the city is perceived.

Pride: Speaking of art, we went into Jehangir Art gallery and strolled through Art Plaza. We love the Indian artists and we always pick up a few pieces. The Indian art market has been on the rise. Not only are the new artists getting recognized, but digging out the old artists from 1920's at Phillips Antiques. My husband priced the two 6" wooden sculptures of pink raging beasts that would guard a doorway at a mere 1.2 million rupees. We just don't have the space for it, you know.

Gut-wrenching pain: walking past a child sitting on the sidewalk with her arm extended, too weak to raise her head. How many children will go to sleep hungry tonight and wake up hungry - no one knows. We dropped a coin in her hand and we walked in silence.

Homesickness: Going into Cafe Mondegar. My husband was surprised I wanted to go there for coffee since it's a fairly dark pub/cafe. However, I heard the Black Eyed Peas and felt terribly homesick. We had a really good espresso and latte while listening to Def Leppard.

Knowing You're Not at Home: (Don't know what the opposite of homesick is): Looking out the window at Cafe Mondegar and seeing 5-6 motorcycles lined up for McDelivery for McDonalds. Yes, for those times when you need your Maharaja Mac or McVeggie in 30 minutes or less. I can't tell you enough about how much I love the delivery services in this country. You want ice cream or bottle of gin, you just make a phone call and someone brings it over.

Frustration: We needed to take an air conditioned bus back home. Sounds simple? We walked at least 20-30 min in circles trying to find the bus stop, calling family, asking strangers, policemen, and bus people. You just have to "know" these things. Fortunately, we finally found the stop and as we were walking towards it, the bus came. We ran for it!

Life Threatening Perilious Adventures: Also known as "crossing the street". (New post to come on that!!)


J.Doe said...

Sounds fun. I used to wear scarves until my daugther discovered that she could pull them - not a good feeling if they are wrapped around your neck.
The part about the hungry girl is so sad. A everyone showers family and friends with holiday gifts and toys that they do not need it is especially sad that some people don't have their basic needs met.

J.Doe said...

P.S. don't be too homesick. We( Somerset NJ) got 10 minches of snow but I heard the Philly got 23.