Bombay

On Saturay, shortly before midnight, we set foot on Indian soil after an eight hours flight from Vienna. An ancient looking taxi driver in an even more ancient looking taxi, which can be considered quite an achievement, brought us to our hotel. The trip was a first taste of what we should experience in the next days on the street of Bombay.
Well, officially Bombay is now called Mumbai as all cities seem to have at least two names. This, of course, makes things intricate for the foreign traveller and adds to the confusion and chaos that emanates from the streets and by-walk in this bee-hive of a city.
It takes time to get accustomed to Bombay city life. Unfortunately, we won’t be here long enough to reach this state. I guess, it would take a couple of weeks. The city is an enormous, busy, noisy giant. It sure is dirty and I cannot remember a place or time where I have seen so many people on the street. Walkers mingle with taxis and bad smelling dirt with food sold by street hawkers. It’s a bee hive except that there is hardly honey anywhere around.
Yesterday we hired a taxi driver, whom we called Lala, who drove us all across town. Although it was a Sunday and there was, as Lala put it, “no traffic on Sunday, Sir”, we were at least happy about the fact that we didn’t do this on a weekday. It was hard enough to get through the city anyway and we were fortunate enough to have, at least, been to some South-East Asian cities so that the stunt like driving didn’t really bother us. Still, sometimes it’s hard to stay calm and trust the abilities of the drivers navigating their cars without any discernible strategy.
I was aware of the fact that India would be a challenge and so it is. Buying our train tickets today was an Odysee and walking back from Victoria station one of the most exhausting walks I had ever done. The city is wild and busy and to be honest I had to quickly eradicate the thought of living here. Not that I ever plan to but I play this mind game with every city I visit and Bombay is certainly not among the contenters.
It’s the food so far, which we have really enjoyed. It is really delicious and the taste so authentic with all the local spices. It’s inexpensive, too, an extensive meal for two costs about 10 EUR but that was the price in one of the best restaurants in town.
Tomorrow at seven in the morning we are going South to Goa and its beaches. We were fortunate to get a ticket since the trains are fully booked. That’s why we accepted a 3rd class AC seat for this 12 hours ride. At first, we wanted to take the night train but that would have meant spending a couple of days more here in Bombay. Since the train ride is supposedly one of the nicest and most picturesque in all India, we don’t see it as losing aday but as a cheap, beautiful tour from a metropolis to a quieter place with wonderful beaches. We cannot wait to get there.

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