Mid-Night in Mumbai

It’s not actually midnight – it’s actually about 2am. With my time difference, it makes it midafternoon to some part of my hind brain, but the rest of me feels like going to sleep – again.

I haven’t been able to do much yet. Once we got off the plane (the less said the better about that), it was all about overload. I’d heard this before, but since I have no experience in traveling outside the US, how could I have guessed what it meant?

We tried to find the driver from our hotel. (Paid dearly for the luxury of being picked up by someone who knew exactly where he was going.) After a few minutes of waiting, I got put into the role of stupid tourist by a vendor who was giving me change. He gave me 400 rupees in change for a 500 rupee bill, and when I asked for the rest of the money, he went all blank faced. Well, I wasn’t about to start crying or yelling that he was a thief or anything, but it did start me off on the wrong foot.

The next happening was wonderful, though. The driver walked by and I got his attention. He was from the right hotel, but had the wrong name on his board. After a few minutes on his cell phone with the hotel desk, he loaded our bags onto a cart and took us to the car. The wonderful part was the drive. It was terrifying in some part of my mind, but most of me was absorbed in trying to make sense of what I saw.

I saw:

burned out buildings that had been resettled

travel businesses that looked open at 11pm

traffic that melded and separated in a dance that mesmerized

people sleeping on the ground

people gambling on a 20 foot tall bridge support without a bridge

And more, of course. My overall impression of Mumbai from the drive from the CSIA down to the Crawford Market was of the Mission District in SF with fewer building codes. It was awesome and overwhelming. It was definitely not where I came from.

James and I slept until about 7am after settling in a little after midnight. We got up, wandered around, showered, had breakfast (delicious), and went back to the room for our bags before taking a walk. Instead, we crashed again. We slept another 10 hours, got up about 8pm, had another fabulous meal, and now I’m on the internet. In other words, I still haven’t seen much of Mumbai.

I love the smell, so far. I love the sights. It’s a lively city, and I can’t wait to go walking. I’m still intimidated by the opportunities to be misunderstood, but I hope that I meet more forgiving people than unyielding people, and that I meet more teachers than dismissing people.

As I’ve been saying for months now, we’ll see!


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