December 2, 2015
Currently: Sitting in the Mumbai airport and reeling at the fact that this blog has already come full circle.
So, all that is left is Mumbai. And what a fitting end to this trip. Much like Kolkata it is a bit of a shock and assault on the senses. A flurry of activity, noise, sounds, culture, food, dirt, people, and heat. Mostly heat. 95 degree heat. And humidity. Which makes for a very sticky, sweaty, stinky Lena. And let’s not forget the masses of people. Little known fact, this city is actually India’s most populous with estimates of around 20 million people living in its cosmopolitan center. Imagine 20 million people. It’s over twice the amount of people in the entire country of Switzerland. Insanity! Indian Insanity!
With only one full day left to explore the city, I tried to squeeze in as much as I could! Luckily, Mumbai is all about that architecture. Our walking tour captured the British influence perfectly. At every turn of the head, you find yourself amazed at yet another brilliant example of colonial architecture. Mumbai is the first place I couldn’t get away from the British influence. But enough talking. Let’s get to those impressive-looking structures I keep yammering on about.
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
Gateway of India
Horniman Circle Garden – where a lady followed us around talking at us (probably mad at us for being culturally insensitive in some unknown way) for over 20 minutes. Her persistence was admirable.
Headquarters of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, aka the largest civic organization in the country
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus – aka the train station, which just so happens to be yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site
Despite the heat/humidity combo trying to drag us down, Nicola and I persisted with the help of ice cold bottles of water and tasty Fancy ice cream bars to walk over 9 miles across the city. I was so grateful to be able to spend my last day in Mumbai with someone so wonderful! Nicola was the perfect companion and I can’t thank her enough for trudging through the streets and embracing that never-ending sense of adventure you need to have to survive as an active tourist in Mumbai. We walked north until our noses couldn’t handle the rotten stench of sewage, turned back, and sheepishly trudged on newly worn blisters all the way back down to Colaba. It was miserably wonderful, if you can imagine that feeling. It was an Indian experience through and through. Love it until you hate it until you love it all over again. In a random turn of events, Nicola and I stumbled into a weird celebration of the Indian Navy. Cue masses of Indians, and even more people wanting pictures with the token blondes. I got a pretty awesome picture out of the Gateway to India from it though.
Because food is 2/3 the reason I booked this trip (not really…but kind of true), my last meal has to be documented as a masala dosa with a naan thrown for good measure and a lassi for dessert. All for 125 Rupees. The food is one thing I’ll definitely miss. I did the impossible. 51 days of Indian food. They said it could not be done and I still wasn’t ready to let it go! I will admit to a shameful McFlurry or two, but all in all, I stayed true to the cuisine.
Side note – I did count the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites I managed to cover in this trip and it was around twelve, but I ended up missing quite a few easy ones in Delhi and Mumbai that could have pushed it past fifteen. Crazy to think there’s over thirty total in India. So much left to see (foreshadowing!)…
I could do the whole sad “it’s over” bit, but that’s tired. India was awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. Or better tour leaders. Or a better truck. Or better travel buddies. It’s funny. I sold myself on this trip by saying, “This is it. This is your trip of a lifetime.” But it’s not the trip of a lifetime. It’s one trip in my lifetime. Those who really know me, know that it’s not even close to my last. It’s my last until my inevitable travel bug itches again.
Farewell India. You did good. I’ve got ten years to take advantage of that pesky visa again. South India… I’m coming for you. Until we meet again!
Lots of love,