Day 74 – Friday, March 20, 2015 – Mumbai (Bombay), India Day 2

Our second day in Mumbai started out a little better. First, we didn’t have to go through immigrations on the ship before leaving, second our tour today was with our travel service, Cruise Specialists, and finally how bad could it be when you were meeting in a bar at 8:05 in the morning…

We were outside early, actually just as our bus was entering the port area. As is customary in many ports, a crew from the Amsterdam arrived at our bus to disinfect it completely.

The team both sprayed and wiped all surfaces. I want complain about that.

A good example of British Colonial Architecture. This is now a municipal building of some nature.

Typical street scene in Mumbai.

This is not a great photo, taken through not only the bus window but also the smog. What make it worth sharing is what it is and what it represents. This ungainly, cantilevered skyscraper is perhaps the world’s most expensive private home. Called Antilia, it is named after a mythical island in the Atlantic. The 34 story, 800,000-square-foot home was built by Mukesh Ambani one of the richest men in the world. Both the purchase of the land as the construction of the building has been surrounded by controversy since 2002 when the land was purchased for a fraction of its value from a charitable institution. Several of the bottom stories are reserved for parking for the family and the huge staff needed to operate the building. The 27 stories of the “home” have extremely high ceilings and it is estimated that a conventional building of this height would be as many as 60 stories tall. The home estimated to cost between $1 and $2 BILLION USD has great views of the surrounding slum areas of India. If you are interested, I suggest you use Google for more information.

One of the scheduled stops on our tour today was the famous Dhobi Ghat, a well-known open air laundromat in Mumbai. The washers, locally known as Dhobis, work in the open to wash the clothes from Mumbai’s hotels and hospitals as well as for individuals.

Traditionally, only men do the washing due to the physical nature and sheer volume processed each day. Wives do occasionally help and also assist with the drying and pressing.

There are rows of open-air concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone. Called the world’s largest outdoor laundry.

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Amazingly, lost laundry is almost unheard of. A mark is placed on each piece to track it and make sure it gets back to its owner.

The normal turnaround time is about 2 days except during rainy weather when the drying must be performed in conventional dryers and then it may take 3 or 4 days.

Hanging it out to dry..

The dhobi ghat is located alongside the Mahalaxmi railway station on the Western Railway’s Saat Rasta roundabout. It can be easily seen from bridge of Mahalaxmi station which is where I took these photos. A train may be seen along the left side of this photo. I apologize for including so many photos of this, but it was fascinating and something I have been looking forward to seeing.

Unfortunately begging was a common sight. Although we were warned to not give money, some of our group just could not resist. It is heartbreaking.

Our most excellent guide today, Tombi Sinja (not sure about the spelling). He rates very high on the quality level of guides and was absolutely off the chart compared to the one we had yesterday.

Just a few street scenes…

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Cows… Cows… Cows are still a common site along the streets in Mumbai. Although not nearly as prevalent as they used to be, I did not see any which were roaming free. Some of the cows you see belong to temples, since they are sacred, but most of them belong to “urban farmers” who provide the daily fresh milk Indians are fond of. And why do their owners leave them in the streets? Because it reduces their food budget! On the one hand they eat garbage and on the other hand they get fed by passerbies. Sometimes the owners actually hire a keeper for the cow while they go to work.

Our next stop was Mani Bhavan, the house where Gandhi lived while he was in Bombay. The house has been preserved and turned into a museum.

Kind of scary when I first stepped into this upstairs hallway.

The Library

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Some colorful dress.

We next went to the Prince of Wales Museum.

We had only about 45 minutes so we only saw a fraction of the museum but I was impressed. Not only with the breadth of the exhibits but the quality how well the exhibits were displayed.

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This fellow is Ho Tei, the god of contentment and happiness. I think he should be adapted by the cruise lines, he obviously has been eating well…

The rare white tiger. Note he is not an albino, just has whitish fur.

The atrium

The museum and grounds, another excellent example of British Colonial Architecture.

While stopped at a red-light, I noticed this traffic policeman come by and tweak this little girl’s nose. It is always nice to notice the little human touches even in a city as huge and busy as Mumbai.

Ah, the Taj Palace Hotel. The hotel received world fame on November 26, 2008, when in a series of attacks in Mumbai, the hotel was attacked by Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist terrorist group, during which much damage occurred and hostages were taken. At least 167 in total were killed, including at least 31 at the Hotel. The casualties were mostly Indian citizens, although westerners carrying foreign passports were singled out. Indian commandos killed the gunmen who were barricaded in the hotel to end the three-day battle. Approximately 450 people were staying in the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel at the time of the seizure

I included this photo in yesterday’s blog but am repeating it since we actually went inside today.

After going through security scans we entered the beautiful lobby of the Taj.

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Part of our tour today included coffee, tea and light snacks at the famed hotel.

The service of course was excellent and it was the best cup of coffee I have had on this trip. Kay equally enjoyed the tea.

I did a quick Google and it looks like discounted rates start at $300.00 USD per night.

Of course outside all the exclusive stores were greeters (i.e. security).

The lighted scene behind the front desk was beautiful, as were the clerks.

A back view of the Gateway to India showing the security put in place after the bombing in 2008.

A few more typical street scenes on the way back to the ship.

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The Leopold Café, another victim of the November 2008 terror attacks. The cafe was an early site of gunfire and grenade explosions during the 2008 Mumbai attacks by terrorists. The restaurant was extensively damaged during the attacks. Gunmen sprayed the restaurant with bullets, some of damage is still visible. The cafe reopened four days after the attack, but was reclosed by the police as a safety measure after two hours because of the unexpected size of crowds gathering there.

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I took this sign while waiting to be checked, yet again, at the port entry. This was the first of two before we reached the ship.

This finishes day two of our Mumbai Adventure. Internet has not been working, but hopefully I will eventually get all the blog entries posted.

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