Thursday, February 21, 2008
All Shopping no Culture
When I awoke I looked out the window at the Gate of India and the Arabian Sea and was surprised to see a sunrise over the Gate. I expected that we were looking West, but because of the weird shape of Mumbai we were actually looking East towards the sunrise.
For the first time on the trip we slept in. We got up about 8am and had breakfast and headed out. We thought we were going to do all the normal tourist things, but we quickly decided we would rather shop (what else is new?). We had the addresses and a map of the city and headed out by foot. Bombay reminds of us New York or London, if they had really bad sidewalks and streets and no subway or other decent public transportation.
We found a great jewelry store and then got completely lost trying to find any place else. The maps don’t name all of the streets, the addresses have changed and it is impossible to find anything. After awhile of fruitlessly walking around we returned to the hotel and decided to hire a car and a driver. We would show him an address of a store, he would drop us off, we would shop and then call his cell phone and he would drive up and pick us up and take us to our next stop. I could definitely get use to this! We found a great small textile store that specialized in Lucknow Chikan Embroidery. We picked our textiles and they measured us and will deliver custom Kurtas (long shirts) to us tomorrow at the hotel. Interestingly they have separate tailors for men and women.
We returned to our hotel, and unbelievably there was a message from Elizabeth Cohen who we knew from a previous trip to South East Asia. She had been reading our blog and realized she was at the same hotel as us. It turned out she was on the same floor!
I wanted to purchase some DVD’s and a CD. Our butler said "no problem, don’t look for them, he would find them and get them for you, put them in your room and add it to the bill". Life is great if you have a butler.
The day was spent shopping and driving in the ridiculous Mumbai traffic. It i s very bad. It is less fun than driving in the South of India because there are no cows, goats or Tuk-Tuks to avoid; they have all been banned from Bombay.
We had a typical Indian experience when Cathy and I decided we wanted a coffee and cookies about 3pm. We hadn’t eaten lunch. There were two adjoining stores a bakery and coffee bar. We bought some biscotti at the bakery and attempted to order coffee. The counter person said “We don’t sell coffee, you would have to get it next door". We paid for the biscotti and went next door. The same counter person from the bakery turned up and took our coffee order and acted like we were brand new customers.
We met Elizabeth later that evening and had drinks at the Taj Bar and later had dinner with her. The bar has history; it has India License No. 1, and was the first public bar in all of India.
We took a cab to a Punjabi restaurant that was completely authentic, no tourists at all. We were the only non-Indians in the restaurant. They actually have two restaurants with the same name on either side of the street. They both serve identical food. One serves alcohol the other doesn’t. We went to the wrong one first, and then crossed the street to the one we would like the best. It was cheap and good. Once again Cliff ate with his fingers.
One thing we learned on our trip to the South of India, is to always get the left over food boxed and take it with you at the end of a meal. You can then give the food to a hungry person. When we left the restaurant we only walked a few steps and there was an obviously hungry woman sitting on the street, we gave her our leftovers and took her picture. She was happy but still wanted money.
Maybe tomorrow we will see some tourists sites. On the other hand they will always be here in Mumbai and we will be returning. No SRK sightings.