Monday, 16 February 2015

The Big Trip - Part Four Mumbai

We arrived in Mumbai on Wednesday. I really liked it there, the city is cleaner and the inhabitants are incredibly proud of their rich heritage, including the days of the Raj and their British history. The city is home to many of the Bollywood stars and it is a much richer city than many of the places we have visited.

Soon after we arrived we went to a tailors to drop in some fabric for alterations that a couple of the ladies in the group wanted doing. The pictures below are of the street side tailors shop - there were 8 boys in a very small space all working on different projects. The boys ages ranged between 15 and 22. Look closely at the image and you will see how old the sewing machines are and notice the iron the boys are using - cast iron with hot coals inside - like a relic from the Victorian era!

The pictures are a little yellow as it was quite dark outside and they were working under strip lights.

The image below was taken in a near by dress shop. If you take an interest in ANYTHING then the guys who work in these stores will promptly open up about a hundred choices for you until you have seen so many dresses your head is swimming! I'm not really in the market for a ball gown or a prom dress - but this is certainly the place to shop if you are!

We ended the night with a bowl of Falooda at the ice cream parlour - an amazing mix of Kulfi, milk, noodles (which I think are made from arrowroot) and nuts. Being presented with the bowl reminded me of that scene in Indiana Jones when Indie is given a bowl of soup with eyes in it! 
I'm joking of course - it was totally delicious!

On Thursday we got on a ferry and took the one hour journey out to the Elephanta caves. These 2000 year old carved stone caves are very important to Hindus as they are one of the earliest representations of Shiva. The caves are on an island and there is very little else there, but they are well worth the trip! 

The local people arrive on the island in much smaller boats - I love the picture of a group walking the pier onto the island:

The carved stone statues inside the caves are amazing - I have added in an image with some of the group in it so that you can see the scale of them.

The trip to the caves took most of the day, but we had a couple of hours site seeing in the late afternoon. We were shown the British Architecture - most of which looked like a cross between Harrods, St Pancras Station and The Natural History museum! Below is my Mum standing in front of The Taj Mahal Hotel

We visited Dhobi Ghat - a place that the tour guide described to us as 'the human washing machine'. This is a pretty big area within the slums of Mumbai where men wash the uniforms, bed linen and towels of the Mumbai hotels. Its an incredible place - and once again a place that made me feel really lucky! The men work 7 day weeks and rarely have time off. They sleep in rooms with between 15 and 20 other men and get paid a pittance and they wash and scrub all day long. The images below show the tanks that are used to soak the washing.

And the washing hanging to dry - it is hung on twisted rope and is incredibly clean!

We have seen so much slum area in India and sadly I have to admit that I have become a little immune to it over 3 weeks - it was such a shock in Delhi and Agra at the beginning of the trip, but then we have seen it pretty much every day since in every place we have visited and so it has become the norm, but visiting the Dhobi Ghat really made me realise just how poor the majority of people in the country are and how hard their lives are.

Below is an image of people queuing for Kerosene and a couple of Barber shops (these weren't taken in the slum):

After a couple of days in Mumbai we came to Dubai. 
We have done the things I imagine most tourists do when they come here - we have been on a desert safari, smoked shisha and have had a camel ride. We have looked at the huge gold necklaces and elaborate saris in the meena bazaar and have peered up through coach windows at incredible sky scrapers and driven along the Palm Jumerah, but to be honest, it all seems a little surreal - there are no signs of poverty, just opulence and monuments to wealth. It's proximity to India makes it feel obscene, fake and self indulgent to me so I have decided not to post any images of it on this blog, despite enjoying a couple of quiet days here and having a laugh in the desert!

A final note about the 'Big Trip':
My wonderful Dad, Roy, paid for us to take this trip and even supplied us with spending money! So I just want to say via the blog just how grateful I am to him for allowing me such an amazing chance to visit the land of wonders and exotic geraniums - love you always Daddy! x x