This is Shelly reporting in to finish off our India experience for you. Nate has now sufficiently hassled me about not being as active in the blog-writing department as I could be, so I promised to write at least one blog post per country. In my defense, I have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes including researching spelling for some of the obscure places we’ve visited, editing grammar, selecting pictures, tagging references, etc. But, I know (Brynne), I should be better about writing posts. So, I’ll pop in from time to time. However, I think you’ll all agree that Nate is doing a fabulous job keeping you up-to-date on our adventures and sharing insights along the way.
After cruising through Kerala, we flew back into the lion’s den of civilization with a 2-day trip to Mumbai, home to the busiest train station in Asia, along with about 14 million+ residents. We stayed in Colaba, right in the heart of the city and it turned out to be a perfect outpost. We were within walking distance to everything that we wanted to see and do while we were there. We walked to the India Gate, the Taj Hotel, through the street vendor corridor, and to great restaurants and shops. We were even strategically located about a block from a trendy uppercrust nightclub, known for being a celebrity hotspot. Of course, this meant that it was tops on our list for our first night in town.
Although we didn’t have any star sightings, we did feel transported to another world while inside. It was very NYC—Asian Buddha statues like at Tao, a sleek bar with every type of imported (read EXPENSIVE) alcohol imaginable, and beautiful people in Western designer clothes (definitely no sarees or lunghis here). Although we had a great time sipping the familiar cocktails of choice from home, sitting at the bar and soaking in the great people-watching, we couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness at the thought of the countless homeless and needy men, women and children that were laying on the streets literally just outside the bar. To see this type of disparity up close was really hard. It’s one thing to be confronted with poverty and begging while walking around during the day, innocently looking up to admire architecture or famous locations. But, it is another thing to sit inside a plush bar drinking $10 cocktails when there are children outside the doors who could eat for a month on that same $10…. But, alas, that is all part of the experience of India as it is continuing to find its way, develop new social programs, work on improving the environmental conditions, and prosper as a new financial powerhouse in global economics.
During our 15-day trip through India, there were 2 things on our list of quintessential Indian experiences that we still hadn’t been able to cross off—-cricket & Bollywood. Well, I’m happy to report that we did just that on our Sunday afternoon walk through Mumbai and both experiences were worth the wait. As fate would have it, there was a cricket match in progress on the field right across the street from the Eros Cinemas where we bought our tickets to see Jodhaa Akbar.
Even though the entire movie was in Hindi with no subtitles, it was fun to be there watching the action on the big screen. Jodhaa Akbar is set in many of the places that Nate & I had visited in Rajasthan and allowed us to follow along with the storyline because of our new understanding of the historical importance of Akbar’s rule in India. But, even with the beautiful Ashwarya and Hithrik onscreen and the basic comprehension of the plot, the 90 degree Indian sunshine was calling us out. After 2 hours, during the classic “Intermission” which is common during these marathon Bollywood 3-4 hour movies, we snuck out to catch a little cricket on our way back to the hotel.
That night, we had the opportunity to do something we hadn’t done in over a month and a half….we had dinner with someone we knew. Our friend Devu had recently moved to Mumbai and we were lucky enough to meet him for drinks and dinner. His girlfriend Leigh was also in town visiting from NYC, so we had a great double-date together. First, we hit the spectacular rooftop bar at the InterContinental, overlooking the Arabian Sea. After that, Devu took us to one of his favorite seafood restaurants where we drank Indian wine and ate more food than we needed. A good time was had by all. We look forward to staying in touch with them as they continue working out the logisitics of a trans-Atlantic relationship. They are truly a great couple and we look forward to having them up to Seattle to visit during one of our summers.
The next day, our flight to Thailand left at the ungodly hour of 5:20am, which meant a 2:00am wake-up call. Ugghh. So, after 3 hours of sleep, a 4 hour flight to Bangkok, a 5 hour layover (luckily, they had a huge shopping mall inside the airport), followed by a 1 hour island flight, we made it safely to Koh Samui, Thailand.