Mumbai: from poverty to extravagance

2014-11-09 14.14.34With a small amount of time to discover Mumbai, we went on a tour with a guide, organised by the hotel. As this is India, it wasn’t long into the tour that we discovered that we weren’t undertaking the tour we had proposed, but instead the tour our guide decided we should take.

We started in the slums. I was quite happy to just have a brief visit – I feel a certain uncomfortableness in being the rich white tourist in the lives of incredibly poor Indians, but it is also good to see the reality of where so many people live. I also felt a bit sad for the unhappy goat. Then there were children who built there kite and flew it while we were there. Small joys.

The flower market was lovely to visit – we were told not to sniff the flowers. Apparently the scent of flowers belongs to the gods. OK to look, but not to smell.

2014-11-09 14.48.46We also visited the gigantic outdoor commercial laundry. I’m not sure what happens when it rains.

Next stop was a vegetable market where the number of photos I took was equally reciprocated by the photos taken of me. As one of the Indian staff told me later, blonde white people are still pretty rare and generally seen on television. With Joanna and her blonde curly hair, we were no doubt a completely rare sight.

2014-11-09 15.18.08We visited the Mani Bhavan where Gandhi hung out while in Bombay. It has some great old photos and takes you through his life. We also got in trouble with our guide: we were talking when he wanted to explain something so he told us “Talk on your time, not on my time.” Whoops. Ghandhi remains inspirational.

2014-11-09 15.23.53Joanna with excellent persuasive skills managed to get the guide to take us to FabIndia so we could do some shopping so that was excellent. I bought tablecloths at James’ request. And shirts for all my boy-folk. It was then onwards.

2014-11-09 15.56.25We were lucky with the traffic – being a Sunday there were very few cars on the road and we thus got to cover a lot more ground than we would have any other day of the week.

We ended the tour at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel – site of many visits from world leaders and terrorist shootings. It is a magnificent building.

We got into trouble again with our guide – we were wondering how we could take photos of the bay – his response “Can I talk now?” But we did get some photos.

And after a tour which has taken you from some of the poorest parts of Mumbai to one of the most wealthy? Gin and tonics by the Taj Mahal Palace pool.

2014-11-09 17.25.48 (2)

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