May 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Posted in India | Leave a comment

We knew India was going to be hot, crowded, ravished with poverty and polluted, but full of amazing sights. I don’t think you can imagine any of this till you’ve actually been here.

yeah, we got a taste of the madness on our flight into mumbai. all the indian people were pushing and even swatting each other – the flight attendants couldn’t keep them under control. the baggage claim was an absolute disaster area.

We started our  journey in India’s biggest city: Mumbai. Over half of Mumbai’s 16 million population lives in slums, so we took a tour around Dhavrati (the biggest slum). I was pleasantly surprised with Dhavrati. There were many industries including plastic recycling, textiles, tin recycling and repair. The plastic recycling was a bit worrying; some of the major countries (including USA and China) send their used plastic to India where it is melted down and then sent back to the different countries. The smells from these places weren’t good; i dread to think what long term damage is being done. 

on the tour we actually went into a plastics factory (merely a 3 storey shack with ladders and little ventilation. i could feel my organs melting as soon as we entered.

The slum was filled with narrow alleyways full of one room apartments (for a whole family). The people in these places seemed happy and i never felt in any danger. If this was South Africa or Brazil i’m sure you wouldn’t just walk around. I think the locals want visitors to feel safe so that a positive opinion can be broadcast. 

even though the slums were safe from crime, they were not hygenic at all – we saw lots of little kids playing in trash piles and raw sewage in open ditches. In the slums a few companies have come in and built apartment buildings – the rooms in these buildings are quite expensive for india($15,000) even though they’re in the slum. the slum people who are displaced b/c of the building are given a free (extra tiny) room in the building, usually on the top floor. i thought this was pretty nice and contrary to usual indian conduct.

Gateway to india – one of the main tourist attractions. we were asked by numerous indians to be photographed with them – funny, felt like big time celebrities. We were also asked to be extras in a bollywood movie (like most westerners), but unfortunately we didn’t have the time. Would have been cool to dress in some dodgy outfit and do some random dance moves.

while it was kind of funny to be in pictures with people, there were a lot of creepers who tried to take my pic without asking. i dressed conservatively (even covering my head at times), but i think they are really awstruck by westerners.

The famous Taj Mahal hotel – sight of the 2008 mumbai bombings

Jai ho

I took this picture because i liked all of the colourful saris. The women were forming some kind of protest, probably concerning the fact that they are treated like second-class citizens. i was quickly told (by the police) not to take photos and clear off.

Nhat Lan is where the majority of all mumbai’s laundry goes. These guys are working their arses off in disgusting water for about 4 dollars a day. It looked like tough work and then they have all the nasty water diseases to look forward to.

even though there are easier jobs that pay a bit more, these people are part of a washing caste and can’t really avoid going into the business.

Baganga tank – the locals were doing their washing in here, right next to the kids splashing around. A really relaxing place with surrounding temples. If the water didn’t look and smell like a public toilet, I may have been tempted to jump in.

This beach was pretty disgusting, just loaded with rubbish. in fact, i couldn’t even see the sand because of all the trash.

Chowpatty beach – looks nice from far away but I don’t think swimming would have been a good idea.

The indian guys absolutely love their cricket. Due to the lack of space available this field was packed with hundreds of games where as there was space for about 25.

We went to a match between the Mumbai Indians and Kolkatta knight riders; it was really entertaining. This format of cricket has rejuvenated the sport; they’ve jazzed it up with cheerleaders and loud music as well as a shortened time limit. (about 3 hours compared to 5 days)

The fans were crazy, chanting all the time and on their feet constantly. it was great to watch those guys.

i thought the fans were peculiar for two reasons. 1 – the only jersey they sport is for #10(tendulkar); all the other players get no love. 2 – they cheer for both teams equally and don’t seem to care who wins. hudson told me this is because they just love a great game; good philosophy, but it made for constant cheering.

Our trip involved lots of train journeys so this was typical. everyone (including me) lay on the dirty floor of the train station. little children would jump down into the tracks to collect rubbish (to turn over for money i presume). one night when we got into agra, we even had to walk over a bunch of tracks with our bags.

Kelly befriended this dog, it isn’t dead.


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