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January 2002

Hits 1766 | Created 2002-01-01 | Modified 2007-05-31

Mumbai, India. "Finally here, after an unexpected three month dither in Ellesmere Port."

Thursday.   India   Mumbai.   Hot.   Over budget.

Finally here, after an unexpected three month dither in Ellesmere Port.   Though, to be fair, it wasn't really our fault, as the Australians too six weeks to process our visas.   In this time we watched a lot of TV, ate a lot of frozen pizza, and spent a lot of cash.   The only flight we could get in the end was a Qantas / BA Round The World deal with an unlimited stop, 29,000 mile thing.   BA only flies to Bombay.
  We left the folks at 10 to midnight on the 29th for a 5 hour coach trip to Heathrow, which involved a little except the inability to sleep.   At Heathrow we ate a Wetherspoons breakfast and waited five hours for our flight.   By some stroke of luck or unknown ticket upgrade, we flew in 'World Traveller Plus', which means you have curtains to separate you from the general masses, and buttons to extend a leg rest, etc.   Watched a cheesy Bollywood movie, ate vegetable jalfrezi and couldn't sleep at all.   Nine hour flight.
  Bombay took about an hour or so to clear, despite comedy length queues.   One queue kept on growing just before you got to join it, so we ended off running to try and get to the end.   Found bags, changed cash, got a pre-paid taxi and we were away.
  It all seemed familiar, but distant to me - very hazy.
  We had booked a room via phone from Heathrow, as we had heard that Mumbai can be difficult for rooms (especially at 2am).   So, we headed for the Red Rose in Dadar East.   At the Red Rose the price has risen unexpectedly to 'just arrived from airport' price of 1,400 Rs!   Mind you, we got free breakfast and a paper, but still.
  Tried to negotiate a cheaper room in the morning (now had slept for six hours) but failed, so too a 140 Rs taxi ride to Churchgate station, where it looked like there were a cluster of cheaper hotels.   I was mistaken.
  Left Caro in a traditional dine-and-dash cafeteria and checked out a few hotels.   I was weak and feeble in the sun and unable to find any hotels for less than 2,000 Rs.   What was going on?   We had a Coke and took another taxi (50 Rs) to Colaba where we were immediately met by Kim, a recently released Malayan hashish convict (served three years), who said he was sixty but looked half that.   He said he could show us a 500 Rs hotel, which sounded amazing after what we had been subjected to.
  So, now in the Maria hotel near a sleezy, pissy, 'want to buy pot'-ee part of town.   Still, we have a fan, a beer and beedies, so it isn't all bad.
  During the day we walked around, I remembering the hassle that India can be, and rested in a park for a while (the Oval).   Just returned from a 127 Rs meal (for two) at the Majestic restaurant and walked the hassley streets - 'Want to visit my Amsterdam coffee shop? / Buy a rug? / Give me money?'
  Feeling tired, weak and exhausted.   Bombay is bewilderingly large, so I feel like an Indian first-timer as I struggle to find the coach station etc.   Caro is coping well.   She just had her first Indian number two experience.   Ho ho.




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