Bye bye Mumbai.
After three months traveling in India, it's time to say, "bye bye Mumbai," and leave the country.
After three months in India, Jaime and I arrived in our final city: Mumbai. It was kind of bittersweet. India was finally starting to grow on me, but, at the same time, I was itching to say, “bye bye Mumbai,” and get out and to be on my own again.
While we were having fun traveling together around this strange country, I think we both knew that even if we hadn’t planned on separating at that point, it was about time to go our separate ways.
We arrived in Mumbai early in the morning, after much confusion when we figured out we were on a bus that didn’t go into the heart of the city (oh India). And so we grabbed a cab and went on search of a hotel.
Mumbai is a big city, and everything there is more expensive than we were used to, but we ended up in a guest house room that was tiny and dirty and had walls that didn’t quite reach the ceiling so we could hear every other room and see their lights flickering above. Jaime said it was smaller than his closet at home…but, for me, it was only a bit smaller than my last bedroom at home.
As we were checking in to the hotel, a man in the “lobby” was recruiting extras for a Bollywood film the next day, so we agreed to the offer, went out for a banana lassi, and then took a much-needed nap (I had gotten no sleep on the freezing and uncomfortable bus the night before).
After resting up a bit we headed out to the Gateway of India and saw the Taj Mahal Palace (a ridiculously expensive hotel where people of status, like Barack Obama, have stayed and that once fell victim to a terrorist attack).
And then we walked around a bit to see some of the very-European architecture and do a little shopping.
The next day Jaime and I spent on set being extras in a Bollywood movie. It didn’t take up the whole day, but we were a little exhausted, so after we just walked through a market and grabbed McFlurries at McDonald’s before heading back to our hotel.
The next day we walked to Victoria Terminal ( a huge and busy train station), walked through fashion street shopping, walked along Marine Drive.
One day we took a tour of a slum. I know it’s a little controversial, but it really was an eye-opening experience. Before that I just thought of slums as these poverty-ridden, ditty, wastelands. But the people who lived there weren’t poor. Most of them had cell phones (from which they took photos of us), many had computers. There was a lot of organized businesses. Things like sorting plastics to recycle, melting down metals to make blender parts. The working conditions weren’t ideal, but they worked. Kind of, at least. I mean things got done but workers were forced to work in hot environments with toxic chemicals.
After that we walked around the Wall Project checking out the street art in Mumbai.
The next day Jaime and I went off to do our own thing. He wanted to go to a theme park, something that didn’t interest me in the least and I wanted to hit some museums, something that didn’t interest him in the least.
I went to the Museum of Modern Art, which was small but surprisingly really good. One of my favorites was a table full of little painted toys. I spent a few minutes wandering around the table looking at all the intricate little paintings. Then, after I turned around to move on I head a noise behind me and saw everything on the table rapidly spinning.
Then I went to the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (try saying that ten times fast). It was kind of the catch-all artifacts museum. It was strangely European compared to any other museum I’ve been to in India, or any of Asia.
And then I checked out an art gallery before doing some last minute souvenir shopping.
On our final day, Jaime and I went to the post office and then chilled out at a Cafe Coffee Day to get some work done.
Later in the day we actually went into the Taj Mahal Palace. Our dirty backpacker selves didn’t exactly fit in with the rich clientele.
And then we went back to the Gateway of India to get one last photo together. Since we had nothing else planned to do for the rest of the day, we stood around for a while and obliged everyone who came up and asked to take photos with us. Which turned out to be a lot of people.
Early, early in the morning, I said goodbye to Jaime, and goodbye Mumbai, and goodbye India. and took off in a cab for the airport. On the way the cab driver told me my name was sexy. On the way we drove past Marine Drive, which was empty and lit up.
Oh India. Oh India. Oh India.