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A Little Sightseeing In Mumbai

Part 1: My Mumbai Mahjong Adventure
Part 2: Sightseeing in Mumbai


The guards at the Singhs' high-rise were drilled and marched under the hot sun. I took this photo through the bird netting (hung on the balcony to keep out the mynahs and other birds off the balcony).
The taxis are these really narrow black and yellow vehicles. They don't have side-view mirrors (the better for squeezing through tight spaces), and they have their meters outside (not inside the cab)! In fact, they're outside, and on the opposite side of the car from where the driver sits. In India, as in the UK and Japan, the driver sits on the right side of the car. So an Indian cabbie has to reach out the passenger window to turn the meter on and off. I think that's done to prevent cheating on fares, but that's just my uneducated guess.
On Saturday, March 21, Sushila assigned her servant, Padam, to take me on an excursion to Elephanta Island. We hopped on a boat at the Gateway of India.
Here we are, atop the boat.
Dig the scaffolding around the Gateway (like I said on the previous page, it's just routine maintenance, not 26/11 terrorist damage).
And a closeup of the inscription atop the Gateway.
The obligatory "and away we go" shot as we pull out into the harbor.
We passed by a Navy yard.
And this is Middle Ground, a small island on the way to Butcher Island. It looks like a munitions bunker or something (Google Maps says it used to be a naval museum). Padam asked me about the flag. He thought it was a British flag. But I said if you look real close, you can see the Indian flag in the corner. So I figured it was an Indian Navy ensign, and it turns out I was right about that.

We docked at Elephanta Island, took the little train to the foot of the trail, and headed up the trail in the heat.
Walking up the stone-stepped trail was certainly no more strenuous than climbing the Great Wall at Badaling. And it wasn't as bad as the climb back up from the stone Buddha in Chengdu. But looking back down when we got to the top, I noticed a brouhaha going on. Some porters were carrying people up.
I guess this Japanese lady...
... and her husband didn't feel like taking a hike.
How do I know they're Japanese? Because this monkey tried to make off with the gentleman's bag, and I spoke with him (the man, not the monkey). He (the man) (not the monkey) agreed (in Japanese) that he was indeed Japanese.
There are some very old and beautiful stone carvings inside the caves.
There are also tour guides.
Okay, well, it looks funny if I don't type something here.
Look at the size of this guy! (The statue, not me.)

(Note: images are all larger than seen here. You can right-click and Save As, to download the full image and view it in slightly larger glory.) (Note: for site storage reasons, the full-size images are not available on the Web.)

The pillars are carved right out of the natural rock.
I like this picture. I mean, dig the colorful clothing of this Indian family.
There are several caves on the island, and each one has its own look. Here's Padam in cave #2, I think.
This cave is just pillars and rooms (no fancy statues).
Lots of monkeys on Elephanta Island.
Here's a Mama Monkey carrying her kidlet.
The monkeys enjoy getting treats from the tourists. Failing that, just hanging out with them.
They oughta call it Monkeya Island (we didn't see a single elephant).
There's a devotional altar inside cave #3 (or is it cave #4, I forget).

(Note: images are larger than seen here. You can right-click and Save As, to download the full image and view it in slightly larger glory.) (Note: for site storage reasons, the full-size images are not available on the Web.)

There's a statue in this one (cave #4?).

(Note: image is larger than seen here. You can right-click and Save As, to download the full image and view it in slightly larger glory.) (Note: for site storage reasons, the full-size images are not available on the Web.)

I think this is the last cave. (#5?)
Not much to see here. Move along!
Expectant monkey growling fiercely at the tourists. I said to him, "yes, yes. You're vicious."

(Note: image is larger than seen here. You can right-click and Save As, to download the full image and view it in slightly larger glory.) (Note: for site storage reasons, the full-size images are not available on the Web.)

And here we are, coming back towards cave #1 and the head of the trail. View down at the pier. Padam and I walked all the way down, all by ourselves (no porters for us. We're hardy, we are!).
Cave #1 is the best cave, so it has the best crowds.
Cement bags emplacement for a soldier to guard us from terrorists. Guess it was his day off.
So we headed back down the trail. More souvenir shopping here. The T-shirts I bought here were of poorer quality than the ones I bought in Colaba. Eh. What do you expect for two and a half dollars.
Here's another vicious monkey growling at the tourists. I ask you, is that any way to get treats?
A sculpture at the foot of the trail.
Sculpture, with garden. And peacocks (lower right).
And of course the obligatory Coca-Cola billboard.
The miniature train carries the latest victi... I mean tourists from the boat to the trail.
Sort of a boat junkyard going on here.
We just went ahead and walked, rather than wait for the mini-train. Guess I didn't mention that a relative of Padam's had come along with us on our excursion.
In the boat, heading back. See that arm sticking up from the hole down there? That's the boat's engineer.

The boat's captain would pull a string, which ran on pulleys down to the engine room. The string had some big washers tied on it, and when the string was pulled, the washers would clank. The number of clanks told the engineer what setting the captain wanted him to put the engine on.

(Note: image is larger than seen here. You can right-click and Save As, to download the full image and view it in slightly larger glory.) (Note: for site storage reasons, the full-size images are not available on the Web.)

Some rich movie star's boat, Padam told me.
Back in Colaba, we went looking for a place to eat. I like this building.
And I like this building too. The wrought ironwork kinda reminds me of New Orleans' French Quarter.
A cute little shrine by the sidewalk.
Kid with pet monkey.
Our taxi passed by a waterfront slum.
Back home, the next morning, on the balcony. This is Pete (Pratap), Sushila's husband. We had many pleasant conversations about cars and cats and what my life is like in America. Each morning we would sit on the balcony and peruse the newspaper. I enjoyed that a lot.
Sunday, March 22. My last day in Mumbai. Padam took me on one last outing. As we headed out, I had to grab a photo of this motorcycle's swastika decal. The swastika is a religious symbol in Asia (I've taken photos of them in Seoul and in Chengdu too). But this particular swastika is definitely a Nazi decal, turned on a 45-degree angle. At least that's the way it looks to me...
Interesting architecture.
Very interesting architecture.
Modern sculpture in the park.
Kids having soccer practice.
And finally I convinced Padam we could take a cab the rest of the way (I'd come to learn that his "ten minute walks" were more like thirty). And so we arrived in Banganga. (You can go on maps.google.com and type in "Banganga, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India" and you can see it from a satellite.)
Or you can type in "Banganga Tank, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India" and you'll see what this looks like from a satellite. This is Banganga Tank. I had had no idea that I was going to see something this awesome!
All I knew, before coming here, was that this was an old part of Mumbai. And it does have that narrow-street old-timey charm.

(Note: image is larger than seen here. You can right-click and Save As, to download the full image and view it in slightly larger glory.) (Note: for site storage reasons, the full-size images are not available on the Web.)

Padam told me that you're supposed to feed and touch a cow for good luck. Lucky kids.
Older cows for older luck-wishers? (^_^)
Guess I'm young at heart. Actually, I fed both of them (the calf and the cow). So, when I came back into the USA, there was a form I had to fill out. It asked "have you come into contact with livestock" (or words to that effect). I knew darned well that this (what you see pictured here) isn't what they were talking about. But I'm one of those scrupulously honest people (mmm, well...) (hey shut up, stay with the story) so I checked the "yes" box on that form. So the immigration officer had to ask me about it. "You came into contact with livestock?" Me: "Yes. I touched a cow." He was just staring at me. Me: "For luck." He was still just staring at me. Me: "So I'm lucky!" Still nothing. Me: "Wanna see a picture?" At this point, he decided he'd heard enough. He stamped my form and finally permitted me to re-enter my homeland.
A lot of the taxis had sixties-style psychedelic designs on the rear window. Hmm, why am I suddenly thinking of Alfred Hitchcock? Anyway, how about that guy just sitting there at a little table, taking some air. If another car needed to come through down the street, he'd, like, have to get up and move his furniture and everything. Ya know?
Padam and I headed down into the tank. Sushila had given Padam strict orders to take care that I didn't strain myself, get heat stroke, eat anything that would give me "Bombay Belly," or otherwise get into trouble. So I couldn't stop for a second and take a candid shot. Ever! Because Padam would inevitably have to turn to check on me.
And here we are, down in the Tank. As I understand it, this is fresh water in the tank, even though we're only about a block from the ocean. I guess the water level varies depending on the season. Besides all the ducks (or are they swans), there are kids enjoying being in the water over in the far corner there.
So we're going to head over in that direction next.
Is this amazing?? (First: my prediction from the above paragraph came true - this actually is the direction we went next. Second: Padam isn't looking back in fear that I'm eating something spicy or being attacked by a crazed wild duck.)
I like these twin spires.

(Note: image is larger than seen here. You can right-click and Save As, to download the full image and view it in slightly larger glory.) (Note: if you want the full-size pic, you're gonna have to ask me nicely.)

Okay. Twilight Zone time. I'm from California, and I'm in India, right? The other side of the planet, ya know wha mean? And here's a store that has "Fresno & Bakersfield" emblazoned across the front. I mean, "what the...??"
Kids practicing cricket.
I still like those spires.
Now we're heading up the stairs on our way out of the tank towards the Hanging Garden (our next destination). I was taken with this architecture...
...and wanted my picture taken with it.

If you want a larger view, try "save as," and if that's not big enough, you'll have to ask me.

We continued walking... and walking... (If you've seen my other travel photos, you know that this is what I love to do when I visit another city. Absolutely love the exploring on foot.)
American "farmers markets" have nothing on Mumbai, lemme tell ya. (Apologies to my friend Nathalie.)
I saw this Saffola Rice ad a few times. And look! Nestlé (not Coca-Cola, for once). How 'bout them apples. So get this: In Mumbai, women cook for their men. How's that for a concept. (And their men's weight needs managing, might I add.)
Young Indian men love their soccer, I tell ya.

Probably as good for weight-managing as your wife force-feeding you Saffola Rice.

See this? I'm definitely in a foreign country. I mean: "stick." Not "post." This is why un-American places are called "foreign."


Part 1: My Mumbai Mahjong Adventure
Part 2: Sightseeing in Mumbai

Sushila Singh launched her Mumbai Style Mahjongg site in 2012: http://themumbaistylemahjongg.com/.

© 2009 Tom Sloper