We finally arrive in India, Cochin was cancelled and Replaced with Muscat. So here we are, first impressions as we arrive in the harbour (Bombay actually. Means good bay - for sailing into as named by the East India company) two things strike me
one there is so much smog you can hardly see more than 200 m and secondly there is a large navy presence here. There is at least 5 frigates and an aircraft carrier - more than Great Briton can muster at the moment, and we think of India as third world.
Disembarking means another two examinations of our passport and a security check of the coach as we leave the harbour. Again why do something once when three people can do it at least three times.
There are an immense amount of people in the city 19 million. It seems that there are only about 7 million pairs of sandals available between them - loads of people are barefoot- and there seems to be 10 million men sitting on the pavement fixing them!
There are people everywhere everyone is selling something or offering some service, and I'm afraid to say very very little of what is on offer has any worth at all.
There is a modern skyline and the city centre is awash with colonial architecture. The old buildings are awesome the taj mahal hotel (scene of the recent massacre, we visited and it is one of the worlds great hotels in my opinion) the gateway to India and the central railway station all terrific. Trouble is that like so much of this city they are all absolutely covered in dust and dirt at least on the outside. This is,bar none, the dirtiest place we have yet visited.
I am still in awe of many of the people here their cheery nature and their humility exemplified by Ghandi whose home we visited today.
But the infrastructure is creaking at the seams. I am aware that visiting Mumbai for a day is a little like visiting London the day after the Notting hill carnival everything is covered in rubbish and in no way reflects on the rest of the country. Put simply Mumbai WAS a beautiful city but now is a massive urban jungle and the dirtiest city I have ever been to. That said I would still love to return to India to see it properly.
Things I have not seen that I expected to are 1. People hanging off the outside of trains I did see some trains but all
The passengers were inside very dull. Also I never saw the slum dog areas, perhaps that was by design. The better areas were pretty grim goodness knows what the slums must be like!
There were many beggars about as you would expect children and disabled well represented. People will do anything for money, strangers walk up to you and spend 10 minutes telling you how you look like a Bollywood star! Before asking you for a dollar. Me and Wendy had our portraits done by a street artist which was really good and makes us look 10 years younger than we are. I guess he does this to ensure people buy his portraits.
Good fun was had very little brought from the stores as the quality was just so very poor in he tourist areas where we were taken shopping. Not a very pretty place but none the less a very interesting place to visit and I feel lucky to have been able to come here.