Andheri Area, North Mumbai, India

I’ve been travelling for 11 months but day one in India has blown my mind. This place is INSANIA. All sorts of crazy.

I have only been out and about exploring for around 5 hours, and am sorry little pink Fujifilm camera. I take back everything bad a said about you in Singapore! I have had it clutched to my eye (well hand really, it’s digital and not the 1990’s) shooting the madness around me at every angle, every splitsecond of my time outside here. Bare in mind that all I actually achieved in these 5h was to catch a train to the city and back 30km away to scout out more central hostels. There were a group of 6 of us, and it still took us this long to figure out how things work here. Here is what I saw/learnt today in India 101:

1)      That out of politeness/not loosing face EVERYONE will answer ‘yes’ to all of your leading questions regarding directions. Example: is this Central Station? Yes. Is this CTS Station. Yes. Does this defy all logic? Yes! It’s was almost worth it to see various people do the Indian ‘wiggle’ of the head from side to side with a gaumless smile. Like Jamal does in Slumdog when the bad child catcher guy hands him the coke bottle. Yes no doubt I’ll be quoting Slumdog incessantly for the next 7 weeks. Anyway, the gesture, means ‘Yes,’ ‘no,’ not sure,’ ‘meh’ all in equal measure. But it does make me smile every time. I’m sure this novelty will wear thin!

2)      We saw the following sign on a train: ‘Ladies carriage only,’ followed by the print ‘and handicapped or cancer patients.’ Inapprops much?!

3)      THE noisiest children on the planet. I guess a population of 18 million (that’s just Mumbai) makes you shout that little louder than the rest. They were rowdy, pushy little 8 year olds-come-old-men. And that was just they boys. They were transporting sheets full of straw on the rail lines. Holding one of the four corners each they dived on and off of the moving carriages, creating quite the hullabaloo. Cow feed maybe? Although every cow I’ve seen so far seems to be dining out on fast food trash so maybe not.

4)      Now, just when I thought I had this part of the city pegged as a stinking, snarling cesspit of mess with a fair thousand shoving oddballs going about their Sunday afternoons like they have escaped from an asylum. I glance through some railings to a massive expanse of green park with hundreds of families enjoying picnics and afternoon cricket, The National obsession. Now it might be the fact that it was a gorgeous pink dusk light, or that simple fact that it’s juxtaposed with the all-consuming decay of the city, but was almost beautiful. Yes I’m sure that if I was in England to a backdrop of garbage, (err Doncaster then) that I wouldn’t romanticize it quite as much. But it’s day one. I’m naive and still taking it all in.

5)      I’m leaving this blank as it’s only 8pm and I’m guaranteed to see/here something else madder than a bag of frogs before the night is up, for sure.

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An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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