Not Done with India Just Yet

Even though we really didn't do much touristy stuff in Mumbai (a reason to go back someday, right?) there was still much to experience. Unlike trips to a different city in the U.S., or even Europe, where you can relax and return to "normal" routines when you get to your hotel, in India you are still traveling even walking down the hotel hallway. Arrivng to our room at the Taj we were introduced to our butler, Sanjay. I don't think we really had any idea what to ask of him, but if there's one thing India has, it's human capital. Lots of people to help you, everywhere. One morning, while Jason was clearly prepared to snooze for hours longer, I slipped out of our room to head downstairs for breakfast.

I have no idea where he came from, but there was Sanjay, "Good morning, mum. How are you?" I was already used to the very British, "mum" address, but what followed was the utmost in diplomatic courtesy, "Is Sir still sleeping?" Sanjay inquired. Yes, "Sir" (hahahaha! hahahhahaha!) was still sleeping. No matter, Sanjay walked with me to the elevator making conversation. He kindly pushed the down button for me. I was ready to say goodbye at this point, but he stepped inside the elevator with me and pushed the button to take me down to breakfast, holding open the doors for me and wishing me well when we arrived.

Jason and I joked that we would return to America and stand helplessly in front of elevators, having forgotten the skill of calling one's own vertical transportation thanks to our time in India. When he delivered our room service the night we were packing for our 2 am flight home Sanjay even offered to help "Sir" pack his luggage. We were totally dumbfounded before being politely able to decline the offer.

Across the street from the Taj is the Gateway of India, so we obviously managed our way over there by ourselves. (Even without Sanjay's help.) Only to be absolutely mobbed by people wanting to take our pictures. Just as we'd experienced at the Amber Fort, young men with cameras and portable printers plead to take your picture and sell it to you. Jason bargained hard for ours, but realized that he should have bargained even harder when our photographer started using me as a model to sell pics to all the Indians who wanted their picture with a tourist. I have no idea how many people's albums I'm in, or what they could possibly say about who I am. I was most obliging with two women who were alone with their children and also took the moment to introduce themselves and ask where I was from.A lot less weird than some of the young men who posed, sometimes even asking Jason to take the picture. "You want ME to take a picture of YOU, with MY WIFE?" he asked at one point, teasing. Of course they were very quickly apologetic and he explained that he was just kidding.

The bigger laugh was running into Swiss tourists, who were just as pale, but jumped in front of us asking for photos, as a shared joke. They'd also found it time consuming to cross to the Gateway. I might now have some sympathy for the celebrities and their exhaustion with the paparazzi; as sweet as this exercise of cultural exchange started out, it became a little hard to extricate ourselves.

In Mumbai, we walked through markets being offered pashminas, bags, perfumes, watches of all brands, and just about everything else you'd want. We also ventured to the Chor Bazaar (aka thieves market), historically known for being a place to find goods looted from wealthy homes. And yes, that's a goat, just hanging out in the street. There were also dogs, cats and birds, all peacefully cohabitating the city streets. Upon hearing of our visit to the bazaar, Dipti & Tushar's parents were a little concerned, but it was among the quietest places we'd visited. (And we paid a taxi driver to wait for us so we could get back home easily.) In one stall a salesman and his industrious children sold us vintage Indian cinema posters. (We had been looking for "The Thug from Delhi" for our friends!) They were about $2-4 each, so we shrugged our shoulders and said, "Why not?" Of course, after stopping at the framers this week, I'm learning the hidden cost will be in the conservation and framing.

After shopping and roaming in the heat (Mumbai was the hottest of anywhere we'd been), we stopped at McDonald's to marvel at the Indian menu (no beef, of course) And then to the pool!Dinner was Morimoto's restaurant in the Taj, the only time I broke the "boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it!" rule to avoid "Delhi belly" in India. (And I was just fine.)I'd devour Morimoto's sushi anywhere in the world!

p.s. I am only slouching to allow Jason to capture both me, the martini and the sushi in one photo. I sat straight back up after the iPhone shutter.


3lennons said...

Love this bedroom!


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