A Little Mumbai Hospitality

October 2011

It has been a long time since I stepped off a plane in Mumbai. Truthfully, it feels like a lifetime ago. At the same time, all the sensations, sounds smells and feelings from the trip are as clear as they were the day I landed.

I surprisingly wasn’t as shocked by the traffic, noise and pollution as I had expected I would be. The big city with weaving traffic, the honking and even some sights felt familiar. Oddly, the smell of pollution felt comforting as it brought me back to memories of the welcoming country of Indonesia. Jakarta is actually busier than this extremely populated place, believe it or not (hopefully I one day will share my adventures from Indonesia on here as well)

For my first days in India I was taken into the home of one of my Vancouver friend’s Aunt, Uncle and cousin. Their home was a classic middle class home in the massive city of Mumbai. Honestly, I just spent the first days recovering from jet leg and trying to adjust to the heat. However, soon, I realized it was not only the travelling days that were wearing my body down; I had developed some sort of a fever/throat infection. In the next days I adjusted to the spicy pumpkin soup, fresh chapati and hot tea for breakfast and by choice, took ice cold showers as those moments were the only ones when sweat was not pouring off of me (without being really sure if this was from a fever or the heat…it was probably both). I went on my first tuk tuk rides, spent an evening at the family’s community church for a beautiful ceremony that lasted through a monsoon that caused the roof to leak. I learned a few things about cricket as the national tournament was taking place (it’s kind of a huge deal) and watched the preparation of chapati using ghee. One day we visited the market to pick up some vegetables and a phone for myself so I could contact my friends who were travelling into Mumbai from further north and also, call back home. I hadn’t had contact with home since leaving my hostel in Amsterdam except a quick expensive phone call to let my parents know I had been found at the airport and not lost in the sea of people as multiple flights unloaded at the same time after darkness had engulfed the city. Sean was certainty surprised to receive the phone call I made to him in the late hours of my night to catch him awake.  I had been desperately wanting to call. I had never felt so tiny and alone in such a big place despite the kindness of it’s people.

In between all the bodies and noise, there is so much beauty to set your eyes on in this country. The vibrant colours are endless.

Me! on my first tuk tuk ride.

-All the big trucks have something along the line of “HONK OK PLEASE” written on them because they don’t use side mirrors and when you’re driver hurdles your car between two of these bad boys, you definitely want them to know you are there. I’ll share more about honking fun later. haha

-Kite flying! These little boys kept reminding me of the book “Kite Runner”

Eventually it became evident that I should visit a doctor before moving on from the family’s protection to explore. After getting the full experience of their local medical system which included visiting a ‘chemist’ which is really a stand on the side of the road with all the drugs anyone could possibly need to fill my prescription of antibiotics, I started my recovery. By the time I was ready to say goodbye to the family who had taken in me, a stranger from Vancouver and cared for me like family, my throat was feeling much better. With hopes of seeing them again in my home town in the next year, I promised to call them to let them know when I had safely found my travel buddies and hopped into a cab.

I was off to my next adventures…more of them than I was prepared for.

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