Mumbai is a rather perplexing city. The largest in India, a population of 14 million, a GDP the size of small countries and the busiest train station in Asia. And yet, it felt small, quiet and very small townish. Well, I say small, I'm comparing it to other cities I've been in. Sydney for example, has a good thousand people around circular quay at any given time, and George Street/Pitt Street are packed with people wandering around the shops. London has the West End, New York has 5th Avenue, etc etc. Here it's just... small buildings with small shops. The Taj Mahal Palace has a small street with naked children running through it directly behind it. The buildings are 3 stories high, maybe 4, with touristy shops on the ground floor, some apartments above, and lots of tiny little shops accessed by steep stairs up above.
The busiest street we could find was two streets back from the TMP, in Colaba. A long street with cafes, a couple of hotels and shops. While walking along, I was pestered several times (once by a seriously scary looking guy) for 'Gooood hash! Just 3000 for a gram!' It took 5 minutes of serious persuading on my part to convince them I didn't do drugs, I didn't want to buy drugs and would they please go away. What a lovely reputation white travellers have in India; Aya was completely left alone. Then again, after watching some of them in Goa, I can see where it comes from.
I'm currently sat on the train, speeding past some dusty scrubland. We've passed through Gujarat during the night, and into Rajasthan early this morning. Jaipur is another 7 hours away, so we're just whiling away the time by watching friends, eating cookies and talking to the passengers around us.
I have to admit, it wasn't a comfortable night. A group of people in the section opposite decided to have a group meal at midnight, and refused to turn off the light until 1AM. Usually I wouldn't mind so much, but they used the end of my bed as a seat, so I had my sleeping room halved, which was insanely frustrating. When I looked up and made a bit of an unhappy noise, the guy looked at me, spoke something in Hindi and returned to his meal. Great. I mean, I know the culture here is different, so I don't want to try to impose western culture onto them, but still, it was very inconsiderate. I think I'm still too English to say anything though!
After that, I'm not sure if it was the wind or the tracks, but the train shook from side to side like a see saw, throwing me up and down the bed. This had the wonderful effect of waking me up every time I started to drift off, and soon after I felt pretty sick, so needed to sit up. Still, could be worse, there was an Indian guy who couldn't get a seat, so slept on the floor in between the beds. How he got any sleep is beyond me, but he seems pretty cheerful this morning.
I'm approaching a rant I think, so I'll stop. Mumbai again. We went for a walk around the city, seeing Dhobi Ghat (giant washing neighborhood) and the Mosque in the sea. Mahalaxmi temple had a party outside, which I attempted a picture of, but failed miserably, and I spent a good 15 minutes trying to get a picture of a soaring hawk by the ocean, with my best shot being a bit blurry.
We grabbed some coffee at the well rated Mondegar cafe, and the atmosphere and the music were both wonderful. Lunch was a quick affair at a Cafe Boutique, next to Tata Garden near Mahalaxmi Temple, and the Nachos are awful and the Chicken Momos were fantastic, almost as good as the Apple Momos from Varkala. The train system is efficient but veeeery crowded. Grab your tickets and try and push your way past the throng of guys who hang out of the doors as the trains shoot between the stations.
Finally for now, if anyone is in Mumbai and gets the Arivali Express from Mumbai -> Jaipur (the train we're on now), it starts from Bandra Terminus, which is NOT Bandra Train Station. It's also NOT on the Lonely Planet maps! You'll need to grab a local train up to Bandra station, then head along the bridge, down to the Auto rank and grab an auto along to the Terminus. It'll cost you 10 rupees per person, or 40 for the Auto. They'll fill it up with 4 people, so if you want the cheap ride, you'll need to wait for strangers to fill up the other seats.
Alternatively, if you look down the road, the Terminus has a giant red neon sign above it saying 'Bandra Terminus', I would guess it to be a 5/10 minute walk.
Thanks for reading!