Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tour of Mumbai

Today Wilmer and I went on a tour of the downtown area of Mumbai. Prabhav and Snehal, two of the coordinators were our awesome tour guides. Our office area is in the northern suburbs so it is about an hour and half drive to get to the heart of the city where all the touristy stuff is.

We started off at 8am. On the way there we stopped for a quick breakfast of some rice cake kinda snack things that are pretty good. Our first stop was Dhobi Ghat, which is the famous washing district of the city. Here there are 5000 men who live here and wash clothes for a living. Many of the hotels and even hospitals bring there laundry here to be washed since it is cheaper to do that than to use a washing machine! It was a pretty spectacular site and it was surprisingly well organized with actual concrete channels running through the whole place carrying the water.

We next stopped at Crawford market and just walked around checking out the sites. Lots of fruit and vegtables, but also pets, toiletries, candy and clothing was sold here. It was a cool feeling walking through the market place. I got lots of curious stares since people like me don't often appear in such places I guess.

Next we went to the Gandhi House museum where Gandhi stayed when he was in Mumbai. They had a series of plaques and little scenes constructed to depict the major events in his life. I was ashamed I did not know more about what an amazing person he was. His face is on every form of paper currency.

Then we went to the Prince of Wales museum. We made a rather rushed trip through it since by now everyone was getting very hungry. The had many old stone carvings and sculptures of various Hindu gods. There is something like 10 MILLION gods in Hinduism. A god has many different forms, usually various animal representations. They also had an interesting natural history section that had some stuffed tigers, monkeys, and other native animals. It was sad to see the stuffed tigers knowing how rare they are becoming. They sure looked impressive though. Much bigger than I had imagined.

After the museum we went to the Taj Hotel for lunch. This is one of the most famous hotels of Mumbai. It is a known to be frequented by many American movie stars. While I was there I was hearing about how Elizabeth Hurley and Arun Nayar were staying there while enduring the wedding traditions of India.

Then we drove around Marine Drive and did a bit a lounging in a park. Here you could get some really great views of the city and the bay. Then we went back to the Gateway of India, which is a giant arch built facing the bay. Here there was tons of people walking about and taking in the scenery. We took a boat cruise of the harbor from the Gateway. This was a nice relaxing trip. This allowed me to get some good shots of the gateway with the Taj Hotel.

Then we went to another good lookout spot on the bay and took some photos. All along the bay they have the entire coast protected by these concrete blocks. It was rather amazing how many of them there were. Going to this spot we passed a film shoot with a huge crowd standing around watching. Then on our way back we saw another crowd standing in front of a what was apparently the home of a movie star. Indians love the movies! On our way home as the sun was setting, so we stopped to watch along the coast where many people were doing the same. Is was a nice peaceful view and I was able to get a couple of good photos.

Finally we got home from an exhausting day and I fell asleep on the couch!

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