Mumbai- First impressions

Mumbai International terminal seemed huge to me. The baggage claim area had high ceilings and vast baggage claims, but perhaps I just haven’t flown international in awhile so it is hard to compare to domestic flights in the US. Our driver from airport to hotel told us that they just re-did that part of the airport, and it looks really nice! Customs was pretty easy- the hardest part being that in order to enter the country, we had to have visas, which we applied for and received back in Chicago while in the midst of moving. At the luggage area, the hustling began. There are guys waiting there to help you out with your luggage. Especially since we are essentially moving from place to place now, we had 3 big suitcases, a duffle, stroller, car seat, 1 carry-on and 3 “personal item” size bags. Not quite as sneaky as I’d like to be. Plus, we’re American so of course all these luggage guys start asking if we need help with our bags. We say no to at least 10 of them before getting to baggage claim area. Once there, a guy just took the cart away from Austin and we had our luggage guy.

It was helpful to have him tell us what we needed to do for the inspection part of customs, which was just x-raying our carry on bags and purses. We had a driver from the hotel waiting for us, so away we went. Once we went outside we were hit by the wall of humidity. It was hot as well, but not unbearable, probably around 85. We took a 20 minute ride to the hotel that really opened my eyes.

For one thing, we are not allowed to drive in India, and now I can understand why. It is crazy! There are these little open air auto rickshaws going every which way, as well as other cars and motor bikes with 3-4 people on them. The horn is as essential in Indian driving as the gas or the brake. They seem to use it to signal that they are coming, as well as to tell people to MOVE, but much more often than in the US. They also get really close to the other cars, especially in the city. I’m not sure that there are defined lanes in some areas, because the rickshaws and the cars and the bikes are just crammed together as tight as humanly possible. Oh, and they drive on the left and so the driver’s seat is on the right side of the car. Fun!

Along the side of a major highway were little shanties made out of tarps, pieces of wood, cement, just whatever they could find. Some were so small that the people were just sitting outside of them in the dirt eating their meals because there was not room inside. The cement ones were stacked on top of each other haphazardly, and many of the buildings looked like they had never been completely finished with rebar coming out of the top of them. There were stray dogs and LOTS of people, including children, up and in the streets at 11:30 at night. I was amazed, since this is WAY past my usual bedtime.

Check out our hotel!
We turned a corner and headed down the Grand Hyatt’s private drive. It had barbed wire on top of the fences. Turning into the hotel drive, there were 8-10 security officers there to greet us, look inside of the van, and stand around looking intense with guns. Once inside the fence, the porters whisked our bags away, telling us they would be taken to our room, and we checked in. Austin and I pride ourselves in our cheapness when we travel. We don’t book our own travel now, so staying at this place was awesome because it is the fanciest place we have ever been to, but also awkward because I’m just not used to having people do everything for me. Coming off of 18+ hours of travel, I looked like a ragamuffin in this gigantic lobby that honestly looked like the front of a museum. We got all checked in and were escorted to our rooms by a nice lady. Then our bags came. Then our crib came.

View out of our hotel room, and Landon’s head

More buildings out our window

How the crib came is a microcosm of the differences between where we were staying in the states (still a hyatt, just not the GRAND Hyatt, and Mumbai. In the states, we asked for a crib. It took 6 hours, and multiple staff to find one, and it came all rolled up and she gave me a wad of sheets to put on it. In Mumbai, we called for it and it arrived within 5 minutes. It was all made up with really cute and comfy crib sized matching sheets and blankets, and even came with a fancy little pillow. Landon doesn’t use a pillow yet, but I thought that was a cute gesture. Usually, they drop it at the door and we are left wading over our luggage trying to find a place for it. Here, the porter did all the heavy lifting, not giving up on helping us out until the crib was in a satisfactory location.

I love cleaning up after travel, just getting all the oil and dirt and horrible BO off and replacing it with nice smelling things and a wonderful sense of clean. That’s what we did and then we tried to sleep. Landon woke up after a naptime length of time, and was up for 2 hours. We went back to sleep for a few hours and then got ready to go. Breakfast was yummy and fun- buffet style but lots of yummy treats like apple turnovers, and pastries filled with nutella and baguettes and cut fruit. I mostly felt under dressed and out of place down there in the fanciness in my short, sandals, and T-shirt, but then again, all of the non-Indians were wearing these items of clothing so I felt better.

See the rebar coming out of this huge high rise? I wouldn’t go
in there

In summary, Mumbai is huge (one of the largest in India with 20 million people). The divide between the people who have everything and those that have nothing is stark and sad. It makes me grateful for my 3 big suitcases and my storage unit full of possessions that I don’t have access to for the next few years.

Sorry about the lack of pics a combination of jet lag and only staying in Mumbai for 10 hours can do that to you. My only picture is on my phone, and I can’t get it off of it right now for some reason.


One thought on “Mumbai- First impressions

  1. 1- super jealous you had a driver. That first day getting all of our things from baggage to a cab to a train to another cab to the hotel was insane. 2- what is with the lack of staying in lanes?! They do the same thing here….I hold my breath every time we drive in a cab or with someone in their car. 3- so glad you had a sweet place to stay for the first night. Jet lag is a beast. But you are awesome.


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