Sunday, November 05, 2006
Mmm mmmm Mumbai
Getting of a bus in Mumbai feels like you are getting into a swimming pool of your own creation. With 1 million percent humidity within seconds I was soaked, my skin shone and felt like it was melting of my face.
Being one of the most populous city in the world is no mean feat. It was surprising to hear that Mumbai comes in at third on a world rankings list because it is BIG.Seriously BIG.
Arriving into the city can take hours by road, just when you think that you are about to arrive and you are nearing the center the bus makes another turn down a road that is busier than the previous one. It almost feels like all roads lead to nowhere and everywhere at the same time. The streets are mainly filled with bumblebees, Mumbai's extensive taxi fleet. I'd estimate the cabs outnumber ordinary vechiles by 3:1.
Getting of the bus at Dadar, I quickly hailed a cab to take me to Coloba, backpacker central Mumbai style. Coloba is located at the southern tip of the city and is filled with gorgeous architecture, wide boulevards, monuments and the beach.
My taxi driver dropped me at my hotel and I struggled to manage all my bags, they seem to be getting heavier at every stop at last weigh in I am officially carrying over 1/3 of my body weight and fear I may soon turn into an ant.
With out even taking one step on the footpath a Bollywood agent approached me and requested me to act as an extra for a shoot the next day. My role to dance in a night club scene.
Already having experienced acting in the Indian film industry and keen to procure tickets to the cricket final the following day I declined his invitation which promised 500 rupees free lunch and transport and concentrated on how I would get to the cricket and watch Australia win the ICC tournament.
I ate diner at the famous Leopold cafe, an institution in Mumbai recently made famous by the thrilling and enthralling Shantaram, one of the most veraciously read backpacker novels for India.
Keen not to make the same mistake as I did when meeting the English cricket team (not being able to recognise all of them), I spied a group of West Indian looking athletes and approached to see if they were in fact the West Indian cricket team, alas they were buff Tunisian students and I felt like a racist.
Minutes later the restaurant began to hive with activity as none other than our own Gilly walked in. I found out that they were staying next door to my hotel at the Taj Palace.
By next door, I mean across the road and whilst their hotel is the most famous in the entire city, with a reputation built on the sheer beauty of the building and the opulence inside mine was falling down (perhaps would be condemned in Australia) and smelt like something dead.
The following morning I ate breakfast at Leopolds and met Dan from Dorset, a gorgeous English guy who was keen to attend the cricket on my terms. Following my instruction he quickly changed his shirt and put his Australian colours on and together we went off to the ground to procure tickets.
With India out of the finals there was nothing to fear and we managed to get some cheap seats right in the centre of the Indian fan base.
Immediately the Indians started chanting 'Aussie suck, Aussie suck' as soon as they saw my flag and I began to fear I might get lynched. The energy and enthusiasm the Indians give cricket is nothing short of amazing. They cheer and scream at anything and everything and have so much vitality it is catching.
Dan acted as my personal body guard and entertainer for the entire day. At times he was more into the Australian team than I was and he wore my flag with pride. I wondered who he would support in the ashes and whether the experience of attending a cricket game where your team wins would make him change sides... history will be the judge.
The following day, with no Dan to entertain me (he left to fly down under to attend the ashes)I went sight seeing,. Mumbai is beautiful and not just the every day kind, as a city it has the ability to stun you and leave you wanting more.
The boulevards are wide and it feels like Europe (in a heatwave). The building are mostly art deco and massive trees provide shade to pedestrians. Red double decker buses fill the roads and if you close your eyes and open them quickly you might just feel like you are in England (for a second).
Posted by KP at 8:24 pm