Saturday, 25 January 2014

January 25 - Mumbai India

Wow! Mumbai: the most unrelentingly alive city we have ever experienced. 21 million people, 24 hours a day.

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To start we need to note that hardly anybody in India calls Mumbai, Mumbai; they prefer the old name of Bombay and readily acknowledge that the new name, although politically and religiously correct, does not best name the city they love. The religious aspect of the name Mumbai is related to an ancient myth by which the God Brahma creates an goddess named Mumba to save the fisher-people of the 7 islands from the threats posed by a demon. Today we visited the temple dedicated to Mumba and payed our obeisance. It was a special inter-faith moment for us to be welcomed into the temple and to engage in some of the ritual involved. As our guide said Hinduism is a pretty chilled-out, her term for tolerant, religion. We would agree, and reminded of the story of the synagogue in Kochi, we could see that it has always been so. At least as long as adherents remain true to the core tenets of the faith. Sadly there are also many examples of inter-religious intolerance in this region. 

The temple from the outside - no pictures inside.

We began the day with the quintessential Bombay street food breakfast, chai and a Bombay burger - essentially battered fried potatoes on a bun. Delicious.

The Chai man.

Bombay burger.

What followed was a whirlwind tour hitting many of the landmarks:

Amy Crawford at the Crawford Market

The world's largest laundromat. And apparently they never mess up an order! Here are more images from The Globe and Mail -

St Thomas' Cathedral, Church of North India (Anglican) 

The Gateway to India, Amy with our guide for the day, Vaydehi

Vaydehi is the daughter of Anu who hosted us last week in Coonoor and took us to the delicious tandoori hut. With her sister Shriti she runs Beyond Bombay - Now as delicious as mom's tandoori choice was Vaydehi's seafood choice for lunch was, dare I say, even better. The prawn pakora, pepper fish and crab curry were superb. And washed down with Kingfisher of course!

The national obsession - not the boys playing soccer in the foreground but the men playing cricket in the background.

You may note the ubiquitous haze in the air despite it being a cloudless day; Mumbai is a very smoggy city, as Amy, an asthma sufferer, can attest.

One troubling aspect of Mumbia is the way children are used by adults as a means of income. At the most basic level it is children who persistently follow you asking for a hand-out. This girl on a tightrope is a more sophisticated version.

 A Hindu holy site; a fresh water spring deemed to flow directly from the holy Ganges River. Which is quite a feat given that the Ganges is 2000 km away!

The Arabian Sea from the 'end of Mumbai'.

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