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10/20/03 Jumped right into the Bombay masala by
taking the local trains. Following concierge directions, we took off the wrong way across the
bridge, but happily since we found a large dhobiwallah community.
From here took a taxi to Banganga (tank) Walkeshwar temple – a series of
small temples, not particularly
interesting. So found another cab and rode through Malabar Hills to
Zaveri Bazaar – some truly amazing moments, as oncoming traffic barely made it
by --- trucks, motorbikes, hand carts all trying to make their way thru throngs
of pedestrians, while vendors are selling on the sides. Eventually the driver seems to give up and
lets us out with the advice that the jewelry market is ‘straight ahead’, back
up a street he can’t navigate. Turns
out to be several turns in addition to straight, but we make our way thru
several markets for aluminum, brass and other metals before coming to the
silver & gold section. Browse a bit
– then try to find a way out. Finally
just get in a taxi and he proceeds to work his way thru the seemingly
impassable streets – quite a show, and a chance to cool down. All sorts walking by - women in incredibly
bright saris, men pulling amazing loads, the occasional cow or goat tethered to
a tree, or grazing under a fruit juice stand.
Motorbikes thread their way thru, while others just try to cross the
street. Taxis jostle for position. At Mumbai Central, cross thru the large
central waiting room – people sitting on the floor everywhere in small groups,
carts with large sewn padded packages wait at the other end, but get to the
suburban railway area, find a train home and get off, by chance, a stop early
at Vile Parle – walking down stairs into a lively fresh produce market. Grabbed a rickshaw and arrived back at the
hotel about 6.
Track life - workers spread out along tracks, none particularly busy. Shanties -- wherever possible flats adjacent to tracks planted w vegetable gardens. Coconut palms, banana trees, others fill in. Backs of shanties line the tracks, often with a slow but fetid stream in the ditch between, yet see people doing morning ablutions or even collecting water to bring into their homes. On train someone always catching breeze at open doors - others doing business on mobile phones
10/23 Boat for Elephanta Island with early Siva caves. We
opted for the deluxe boat 100 but can’t
tell difference from other except for
the 20 R difference in fares. Tankers,
dredges, small wooden dhows crawl by.
Water very calm. No photography
allowed on the boat. Harbor has navy torpedo boats, missile frigates and
helicopter aircraft carrier - possibly harriers -large upthrusting curved prow superstructure on one side of
Elephanta Island appears out of the haze - only about 90 today w sea
breezes, . Fishing boats are anchored
near shore, left high when tide ebbs; workers waist deep in water now,
scrubbing the sides and bottoms
Elephanta Island appears out of the haze - only about 90 today w sea breezes, . Fishing boats are anchored near shore, left high when tide ebbs; workers waist deep in water now, scrubbing the sides and bottoms
Headed north today to try Kanderi Caves. Got on express north to Borovili. Leaving train at last station, told to hold back --here the crush comes first as commuters jostle for space then we can walk off. Another short rickshaw ride [Audrey’s starting to think of excuses t o] get more rickshaw rides as they’re one the most interesting aspects. At the gate to the NP| we’re told no rickshaws are allowed in [though later we see some] but they just happen to have a private car available for 900 R! Two other Indians [and her Luxembourgian husband] show up and get much the same response. Finally we decide against the 8 km walk to the caves, though it is only 90 today. Walk around for awhile, then wind up at the lion safari bus --\ 30 R, pass thru Jurassic Park like double gates, up & down winding one lane road, then spot a white tiger that stretches for us. Next set of gates, we find a pride of 5-6 lions asleep in the road, well positioned to allow tourist snapshots before the bus hustles them off the road. Stop for some cheese pakoras and drinks then head back to the hotel via rickshaw/train.
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