Sunday, October 29, 2006
Napping in Mumbai
My trip to Gujarat ended when I made my way from Vapi to Mumbai on a steamy train. After changing trains with the help of really nice folks, I ended my journey at Churchgate train station. A really friendly young man who described himself as an artist helped me find an area called Colaba where I checked into the Apollo Guest House. I stayed in Colaba for three days and made daily excursions on foot into the surrounds.
Mumbai was hot as hell that Diwali/Eid weekend. Causeway, the main thoroughfare in the Colaba district, was full of tourists. I was surprised to see west African brothers on the streets. Lots of them. Some were even working in various establishments. The same is true for Russians. Mumbai certainly felt more cosmopolitan than Delhi. And, I don't intend this comment to mean that cosmopolitan is a good thing. (I have some thoughts on a movie called "Bride and Prejudice" I just saw on TV. It is about an Indian women with blue/green eyes who overcomes her reservations about a wealthy American suitor. Oh man, I feel a Fanon-ass kicking brewing deep but that is for another time.)
As usual, the stereotypical ugly American tourists are to be found engaged in ferocious negotiations with local street traders in Mumbai. They haggle intensely over pittance but seem to need the experience so as to validate some colonial fantasy of ‘knowing the jungle'. If you need to 'validate' my finding just make your way to the area around Leopold Cafe on Causeway. Leopold Cafe is a favourite hang-out for the caucasia tourist. I wonder if the name Leopold is attached to some unconscious colonial anchor. Mmmmm.
You don't imagine it could be Belgium's King Léopold II that is conjured? That would be too brutal, would it not? If you want to read about the colonial master that killed in excess of 15 million people in the Congo and maimed untold numbers of others by having their limbs cut off, then go to the link below: http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/leopold.html
My boy Faizel Mooi (I talk about him in a post below) visited Mumbai on his trip to India in 2005. He found a place that sells leather jackets on the cheap. The brother bought three; I hope he does not wear them with a tie like Afrikaner men often do! South Africans are so beaten by the expensive price of just about everything and they usually shop to no end outside of the country. Mooi is therefore true to his roots in this sense. I did not shop and avoided any conversations with the many touts that want to sell this and that.
It was hot like hell in Mumbai over the Diwali/Eid holiday. The woman in this picture was selling water by the glass to folks just across the street from the famed Taj Mahal Hotel that belongs to the Tata family. I watched her for a while as she scooped water from the plastic bin. Her customers squatted down beside her and enjoyed the water while engaging her in conversation.
I stuck to bottled water and when it got too hot I headed back to my room to watch the ICC cricket championship. This was my strategy for three days. I was not the only one suffering the heat. Even locals seemed to succumb. Everywhere I went I found people and animals taking a nap to escape the heat.
The cat pictured here did not even budge as I stood over her taking several pictures. No time to wake up and return to the heat I guess.
Mumbai is made up of Islands. I hardly thought of cooling off in the water. I walked around this fishing enclave that sits adjacent to the Colaba area. The boats in the water reminded me of Hout Bay, well a little. As I looked closer I noticed the boy with the yellow shirt in the foreground. Guess what he is doing? :) I need a nap!