Mumbling in Mumbai


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First two days of my 3rd visit to Mumbai.  Here’s a pic of Juhu beach on a Sunday:

Juhu Beach, Sunday May 22, 2011

We tried some pav bhaji (roasted tomato puree) and met some locals.  Will we get sick?  Likely, but such is life.

Later in the evening, met up with my friend Payal who showed us a couple of Bombay nightspots we’d never have found on our own, including a bar that had been taken over by a salsa club.  Ottawa, too, has been colonized by freakin’ salsa dancers.  I’m quite ready to be rid of salsa for a long, long time.

Today we rode the commuter train from Juhu down to Colaba and did some shopping.  I bought an entire suit within 90 seconds of seeing it.  Hey, why mess around?

A visit to the Jehangir Art Gallery (a traditional spot for me that I’ve made to sure to visit on every trip to Mumbai) exposed us to a new show by Jaya Kanoria, who revealed to me that artists apply years in advance to have their shows curated at the Jehangir.

Her works describe a disconnected city wherein residents are unaware of the layers of social discourse.  This is not what I see of Mumbai, but I’m not a resident.

About then, the first tinges of Bombay Belly struck both Adam and me.   It was still early, so we decided to hoof it at a rapid pace to the Taj hotel to avail ourselves of luxurious bathrooms.

Just then, one of those annoying map touts got hold of me.  You know, those unfortunate fellows that try to sell oversized maps of India to tourists.  What tourist has room in his suitcase for a giant map of India? (I wrote about them five years ago.)  Ordinarily, I’m pretty good at shaking them off.  But carrying bags of clothes and fighting off the first pangs of intestinal urgency made me weak.

He sensed it.

The bastard chased me for blocks.  We argued in his broken English and my broken Hindi.  Finally I gave him 20 rupees to go away.

Yes, I was his bitch.

Yes, we made it to the Taj in time to avoid an, um, messy situation.  I made sure to tip the poor bathroom attendant.  Then we decided to have a drink by the pool of the Taj.

Now, this entailed pretending to be guests of this incredibly expensive hotel.  Loaded down with shopping bags, we looked the part.  But our fake hotel room number and unlisted names were a giveaway… we fled… upstairs for high tea.

Yep, my carb embargo was put on hold because no one can resist a full, fancy old English high tea spread.  We stuck it out there for hours, sucking up all the nasty calories that 1000 rupees can buy… and of course tempting the intestinal gods in the process.

Several further frantic tips to the bathroom attendant later, we made a rush for the train back to Juhu.  See, there’s a window of opportunity in between spasms during which one can attempt to get home.

And here I am, drained in all ways, settling in for a long night of work.  And Adam?  Drinking beer, of course.  Bloody hedonist.

(Oh crap.  Adam just farted.  It burns!  It burns!)

I leave you with this: graffiti from the inside of a Mumbai commuter train: