On our way down to Mumbai we briefly stopped in Ahmedabad to pay a visit to Gandhi's Ashram. The first part of the journey was by bus which had only a dozen seats on one side and the other was made up of what can only be described as reptile tanks with sliding glass doors. We were first to board and had the standard seats but as time went on the 'tanks' slowly filled with up to three people, then when these were full tickets were sold for standing in the aisle. We had a rest stop halfway and when we were off the bus we saw what must have been the 'cheap seats' as at least twenty men slowly climbed off the roof of the bus! This was Leanne's journey from hell as Delhi Belly had struck, there was no air conditioning or decent suspension, her only relief coming from an entire pack of Imodium.
Ghandi's Ashram was located on the bank of the Sabarmati River, it is now a place of learning that provides rare equality for boys and girls, classes teach anything from English and IT to the Arts, there was a shop next door that sells what the children make and the money is used to run the facilities. The hut where Ghandi lived much of his later life is now a small museum with artefacts from his basic life including a spinning wheel, glasses a cooking pot and spoon. There is a small library near to the spot overlooking the river where Ghandi prayed that detailed his life and his wishes for India as a whole, some of which still seems to be a long way off. This filled in a lot of our missing knowledge on the man and seeing a photo of him held next to Ben Kingsley when he played Ghandi it's remarkable how alike they looked.
Arriving in Mumbai was a breath of fresh air, it is on the coast which gave a welcome break from the humidity of our previous destinations. The shopping streets could have been in any western city in the world and the sites of the old railway station, post office and private schools could have been taken straight out of London or Cambridge. We took a whirlwind day tour of the city starting with the golden sandy beach that is overshadowed by city skyscrapers, a hilltop park that gave amazing views of this coastline known locally as the pearl necklace. One skyscraper can be seen from all over the city because of its strange design, it is being built as a 27 storey home for the small family of an Indian billionaire and must be the most expensive home ever built. On the seafront we visited the Gateway of India in time for sunset which is directly in front of the Taj Hotel that was the scene of the three day terrorist siege in 2008. As soon as we walked in through the dubious looking metal detectors we were all asked to pose for photographs by Indian tourists, we smiled for about a dozen each before leaving to get dinner. We ate at the famous Leopold Café that was also a target for the 2008 attacks, the bullets have been left in the wall as a poignant reminder.