Mumbai Round 2

Once we knew we had a little time before Korea, we decided to come back to the U.S. for Mother’s Day and to obtain an International Driver’s License. Austin’s last day was Tuesday and we had tickets for Saturday. Austin tried 3 times to change our tickets to Wednesday, but we were only able to get a flight to Mumbai on Wednesday, followed by a flight to Chicago on Thursday. That means we had about 30 hours in Mumbai to kill. The process for flying starting from India was a little different. Jamnagar airport has one normal flight per day from Jamnagar to Mumbai. First, we needed to show our itineraries and tickets to a lady outside the airport before we were allowed in. Then, we put our big baggage pieces through a big scanner. Then we checked in. We needed to have tags placed on all of our carry-ons. Then we waited for security to open up. The toilets at the airport were almost all holes in the ground. That was fun and exotic. When security opened up, there were separate lines for men and women. The women went behind a curtain to get wanded by a female agent after going through a metal detector. Then we waited for the plane. It was 1.5 hours late because the air conditioning was not working properly. Landon was late for his nap, but was ok with the help of the tablet to keep him calm. When we got on the plane, the air conditioning was filling the cabin with steam- that was slightly unsettling to say the least!
Flower market

Slum 
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt again- the hotel that is way too fancy for us, but is nice and safe and full of yummy fruit. They have people who go to the airport and meet us as soon as we get to the terminal. They don’t even have placards with our name because they want to be discreet. It is nice to have help with our mountain of bags. We definitely are a spectacle compared with people who are just going places for a week or so and don’t have very much baggage.
We went swimming and had a yummy buffet for dinner that included Thai, Japanese, Indian and American food. I’m really sad that I didn’t start with the Japanese food, because that was my favorite (salmon, fried shrimp, rice, vegetable and chicken skewers, YUM). Their desserts were amazing- it was so nice to have berry pie and tarts and basically anything I wanted. Landon ate solely watermelon for dinner. He missed that for sure.
Stroller is tied to the roof with one string- can you find it?
We agonized over what to do with our day of our flight. The flight was not until 11 pm. We decided to hire a taxi to take us into Mumbai and take us around to some sights. The taxi driver was this old man who spoke pretty good English. We gave him a list of places we wanted to go, and he made sure to plan the route so we could drive by several other sights without getting out of the car. His car did not have a trunk, so he put our stroller on his roof. His securing technique was precarious at best- he tied one of the metal sides of the stroller with a string to his luggage rack. One string. He had to stop once because it was falling off, but it came out of it unscathed.
Dobi ghat with the boys
We started out going to the Dobi Ghat. It is the world’s largest outdoor laundry. It was a big space filled with cement wash basins and clothing lines. The families that run the laundry have been doing so for several generations. The men dip the clothes in boiling water and soda, and then beat the clothing against a rock. Then they rinse and the women hang, iron, and fold the clothing. Our driver said that mostly the laundry done there now is from hotels and restaurants, because most people have washing machines in their homes. It was a neat place to go and I especially enjoyed all the multi-colored laundry pieces hanging on the line.
Dobi Ghat
Next, we went to the Gateway of India. It was built right on the sea to welcome Queen Anne when she came to visit India during British Imperial times. It was patterned after the Arche de Triomphe, and looked fairly similar. There were lots of other tourists there, and Landon and I had our pictures taken with an Indian mom and her baby. They think that’s just the best for some reason. We were waiting for our driver and decided to walk down a row of shops along the road. Mistake. We are white, and therefore have lots of money in their eyes. We ended up buying 2 scarves for an exorbitant amount of money. Austin and I need to work on our haggling skills and withstanding the special powers of good salesmen. Landon liked chasing pigeons in the square. We got to see the sea, which was full of trash and boats going to Elephanta Island. If we had more time, we would probably go too.
Gateway of India

Pigeons are a fixture at any tourist attraction anywhere in the world…
Good thing Landon was there to chase them!

Austin’s artistic gateway shot
Pics by the water with the Indians

The famous and fancy Taj hotel

Victoria Terminus railway station- we just drove by

Next, we went to the Hanging Gardens. These gardens are at the top of Malabar hill in a lush, richer section of Mumbai. There were flowers, topiaries, and some play equipment. Unfortunately for us, Landon fell asleep almost immediately upon being put in the stroller, so he didn’t actually get to play, which was the whole point in going. Oh well. It was hot and sticky, and Indians took more pictures with us. We could see down to Chowpatty beach, which is the main “picnic” beach in Mumbai. People don’t really go in the water here, and I wouldn’t either. It was a pretty spot and made it feel like we weren’t in the city, which was nice.
We didn’t go in because it was only for seniors

The view from Hanging gardens down to Chowpatty beach with sleepy baby

Pretty tree in Hanging Gardens

Austin with the pretty tree

Hanging Gardens selfie
Chowpatty beach from above
View of the next suspension ropes from the bridge itself
Mumbai is still a perplexing place for me. All in one view, you can see new high rises with glass windows rising up and the slums made out of tarps and metal roofing. It is just so odd that all of these people live and co-exist together, and just live their lives.
Our driver took us on a shortcut back to the hotel which included going on this bridge in the middle of the sea, to the next chunk of landmass. It was really cool and I know my dad would have geeked out looking at the awesome suspension bridge there.
Next, Landon took a nap back at the hotel, we packed up, and wasted a few hours before going to the airport. We asked our driver if we could stop somewhere to get diapers. He misunderstood us and stopped at a souvenir place, but it was next to a pharmacy that sold diapers. Before we got out he said to barter and offer 30-40% of what he asks. I thought he was talking about the diapers. So I made a major social blunder, and I felt bad about it. He told us how much it was, and I offered R25 less. He gave me this look like, “You are the biggest idiot ever” and did not say anything, just choosing to ignore my social blunder. Austin was looking at me like “What are you DOING?” and gave him the correct amount. Turns out in pharmacies, they have the retail prices printed on the package to prevent upselling. SOO… you aren’t supposed to barter. Oops. The moral of the story is that we got our diapers and I felt like a complete moron.
Old building
Security at the International airport was intense. We had to go through the normal security measures before we got to our gate, including immigration where we almost got detained because Austin didn’t have papers for his employment visa. He was warned about this from his colleague who left the day before, but when he tried to get the papers from his employer, his employer ensured him that he didn’t need them. So, we got through alright, but I guess his colleague was sent back to the ticket counter because of it. Good thing we had lots of extra time. Landon was not in a great mood because it was way past his bedtime at this point. In fact, Landon didn’t sleep until we got on the airplane. Poor kid. He fell asleep as soon as takeoff began. And slept for 8 hours straight.
I am excited to be back in the US. I need new running shoes, and sunscreen, and swim diapers. And raspberries.

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