Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Catching up on Mumbai, Part I

I've been in Mumbai for three days now, two of them on my own. After my late arrival on Saturday night/Sunday morning, Sunday was kind of a wash. This was in no small part due to the fact that Toto and I were up talking until after 7am! By the time I woke up, it was already 12:30pm and half the day was gone. I went with Toto and his flatmate Pablo to their friends' house and we just kind of hung out for a few hours. We ate and had beer over much conversation about the goings-on in Bollywood.

Yesterday, Monday, I was on my own. I had no plan (of course!), so I just jumped in a rickshaw and then onto a train and went downtown. (Toto lives in Bandra, one of Mumbai's suburbs.) The general destination that I had in mind were the neighborhoods of Churchgate and Colaba. Colaba is essentially travelers central, so I figured being around other travelers and tourists might be the best way to ease into things. That probably would have been a good plan if I didn't always get lost so easily. :-) In any case, I did eventually make it to Colaba. There's a stretch along the Colaba Causeway that has tons of stalls selling all kinds of things - watches, shoes, saris, books, videos, jewelry, maps, trinkets, and the thing I was looking for...a compass! The vendor was asking Rs 350, but I ended up negotiating him down to Rs 100 (just over $2). I essentially spent the day wandering aimlessly and stopping whenever I saw something interesting. I was even asked to be an extra in a Bollywood film! This is something that happens all the time in Colaba. Producers are specifically looking for foreigners to add "international flair" to their films and tv shows. I turned down the Rs 500, though, because filming was happening today at 9am and I would have had to be up super early. Not really what I was looking to do on my birthday anyway, lol. Eventually I decided I was ready to head home, but I wasn't having such an easy time finding my way to the train station in the dark. That's what cabs are for! Turns out I was not very far off course, but I didn't know that and I probably would have headed in the wrong direction anyway.

The super cool thing about last night was that Toto and I were chatting, listening to music, having an adult beverage, that kind of thing. Just after midnight, he brings out a birthday cake for me! He said it was officially my birthday since it was after midnight and that we had to start "my day" out with cake. But that's actually not the super cool thing. The super cool thing is that a little bit later we were somehow talking about Christmas music. I told him that I'd loaded my iPod with Christmas tunes and commented that I tend to like some non-traditional holiday songs, but it's just not Christmas without Bing Crosby's White Christmas. Why? Because I have memories of Dad singing that song during childhood Christmases and, in my head, Bing's voice is really Dad's voice when I hear the song now. All of this roundabout-ness is to say that the next thing I know, Toto is asking me what my father's cell phone number is, he's dialed the phone and handed it to me. "You need to hear your father's voice on your birthday," he said. Dad was so surprised to hear from me that he practically didn't even recognize my voice! It was a pretty nice birthday gift that my host gave me, way better than the cake.

Today's agenda looked a lot like yesterday's. No real plan, just meandering about, but trying to do so in different areas than I'd been before. I was mostly successful in that I saw places I hadn't before, but also unsuccessful in that. . .did you know? Yes, I can actually still be very lost with a map AND a compass! I kept thinking, too bad genes can't be passed on from stepmom to daughter because I could really use some of ToadMama's navigational abilities.

There's SO much more I could say about my experience in India so far. But I haven't uploaded pics yet, which would help with the storytelling, and I'm about to head out to continue the birthday celebration that got started earlier today. I think tomorrow will end up being a travel planning day in which I book train travel and get serious about an itinerary, so I should have time to post again then. Keep an eye out for Part II.

* * * * *

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who sent me happy birthday wishes (and practically a day early for you since I'm 10 1/2 hours ahead of you)! It's not quite as good as having you all with me here to celebrate, but it means a lot to me.


  1. I'm sending extra directional vibes your way. Sorry I am not there to help guide you. You know I would love to be, right? (-:

    Toto sounds very nice. Tell him I said thanks for hooking you up on your big day!

  2. Your welcome and have a very nice Birthday.
    Don't forget to get back with me about the email I sent you.

    Love Ya!

  3. Happy Birthday! I read your dad's comment on the other post this morning and it made me cry too!

  4. ToadMama -- thanks! But, truth be told -- am really the devil incarnate when compared to your precious child.