I met a girl from Germany on the airplane from Bangkok, and she doesn't know it, but she made the flight bearable for me by chatting with me and keeping my mind off of how sick I felt, until I fell asleep.
Avinash and Anjali were at the airport to pick me up. They almost literally had to pick me up because I was still feeling so sick. I hadn't eaten anything since the shawarma off the street corner that I had thought looked like a good idea the night before. I had since regretted that spicy treat. It wasn't the shawarma that made me sick, but combining hot chilis with food poisoning is not the best idea. They poured me into a taxi and took me back to their apartment. Anjali had bought me drugs. I swallowed the tablet and washed it down with the re-hydration electrolyte solution and fell asleep. You really know you have friends when you can come to them in that state and they greet you warmly and take care of you. I was feeling much better when I woke and was able to eat a little rice and a banana. Then I went back to sleep. I think I slept for about 16 hours on and off.
|Avinash and Anjali's apartment - they are building a new one right next door.|
|My view from my bedroom window|
|Street market vendors right near the apartment|
The next day I was feeling much better and, after feeding me a giant breakfast and several cups of delicious tea, we went out. We visited so many places I have read about - especially in the book “Shantaram” that I read last summer while I sailed across the ocean.
Mumbai is everything, and nothing that I expected. Sometimes, when you have wanted something for a long time, like seeing the movie release of your favourite book, or finally getting to eat at a famous restaurant, or in this case, visiting India, the initial reaction is disappointment. We often blow things out of proportion in our mind and make them into a magical disney version of themselves in our heads. Reality can never live up to the fantasies we can create. With Mumbai, this was not all bad, since some of the things I had read about such as the terrible smell that assails your nose as you step off the plane, or the rats that scurry down the gutters as you walk by, or the people by the hundreds living on the street, just did not exist. Occasionally, as you drive down a street and pass an open sewer area, you may get a whiff of an uncomfortable smell, and it may stay with you for a block or so if traffic is slow. There are people that live on the streets, or close to it, but not more than any other large third world city. I have seen one cockroach, but no rats. I think that most ideas that people have about far away places, are twenty years out of date. I will admit, the book I read was about events that took place in Mumbai in the 1970’s!
|Some apartments in Mumbai|
|Vendors fill some streets|
|Sweet Pan - this is betel with coconut and fruit. It is sold outside of restaurants and people chew them after eating. The nuts inside still stain your mouth bright red and your teeth black.|
|The effects of betel - it used to be considered beautiful. It has now been proven to cause cancer, but least there are no second-hand betel effects like the western habit of smoking.|
|Yup, just sit right down on the street and get a tattoo. I'm sure it's sanitary.|
|Victoria Railway Station - a Unesco Heritage site|
|Inside Victoria Station|
It turns out that there is a big Trade Mission going on in Mumbai this week, and people people have come from all over to “Invest in India”. There was a big stage set up at Chowpatty beach and another at the Gate of India. On the first night, we missed the performance. Anjali was a little sad that she missed if for me, but I was secretly a little glad because I really wanted to lay down. It turned out that the stage had caught fire so it is probably best that we missed that one. We saw two more shows of India’s culture, dance and music at the gate of India on the next two nights. They were fantastic! What a great introduction for me.
|Gate of India|
|Folk dancing at Elephanta - the Make India Trade Mission Show|
I was able to register with the Royal Bombay Yacht Club and I think Sheri will be able to get me onto a J24 racing crew for the March 12-13 race weekend!
|Yup - got here!|
I do have to admit that I have one complaint about my friend Anjali. Her food is too delicious and she is constantly cooking fresh food for me. I am going to need to buy new bigger clothes to go home in. It has been so nice after five weeks of travelling from hotel to hotel, to come to a home where you feel like family.