Mumbai / Bombay
Bombay or Mumbai as it's now official known, is the capital of Maharashtra and the fastest moving, most affluent and the most industrialized city in India. It is an interesting city throbbing with activity and, for many people, the gateway to India. The city is the most western city in India.
The town or megacity has around 13 million people. This is the official number. The people living in Mumbai, say it more likely around 20 million.
Gateway of India
Gateway of India, the principal landmark of Mumbai, was the principal port when the visitors came to India by ship. This was the first sign of India to the people arriving with Queen Elizabeth (The ship I mean).
To the left of the Gateway of India is the extremely nice hotel, the Taj Mahal. The hotel is one of the most beautifully in entire India. Beside this, it has the most exclusive nightclub called 1900. Entrance only if you're a member or live at the Taj. Have I been there? Of course.. and more than once.
In the background you can see the University of Mumbai, I think and the VSNL which is the only Internet Service Provider in India! This is probably the most hated company in India.
Anyway, downtown Mumbai still has some green areas around as you can see.
Just outside the harbor (10 kilometers) is the Elephanta Island. The island is famous for is four rock temples inside a huge cave system. The name Elephanta Island originates from a big elephant of rock that used to stand on the island. This elephant is now located in another garden in Mumbai.
Inside the caves are big statues of Shiva, one of the many famous gods of Indian religion. The biggest on is around 6 meter tall. But a lot of the statues have been destroyed by the Portuguese, which used the statues as targets in their canon shooting practice.
Trash all over
The banner on the picture actually says Keep Mumbai Clean! What a statement.
In the start it may bother you with all the trash on the street and all the rats running around in the middle of the night when you are on your way back from the nightclub, but as with all the other things in India: you get used to it, and in the end you ignore it.
This is a normal sight on the streets downtown Mumbai. People going through the trash hoping to find something that they can use, wear or eat. So if you work at a company you got to remember to destroy all confidential papers before throwing them out.
What is this doing here?
One day when I was walking on the street passing the millions of small bookshops I came across this Danish Kraks Kort, which is a map of the streets of Copenhagen. It's the blue one with two arrows on it. Who brought this map to Mumbai? And do the salesman expect to sell it? Don't ask me, I just took the picture!
One thing I never forget is my first bus ride in India. First of all the buses doesn't have any door's, so if all the seats are taken you're kind of hanging out of the bus only hanging on to a small handle. Then there is also the ticketing system. To complex to describe here.
Big fans in the roof to keep cool, steel seats, and normally overcrowded. This is the impression you get when taking the train in India. I was lucky. I could take the bus every morning to work instead of the train. On the picture you might see people hanging out of the train. That's perfectly normal.
When the trains have no doors you have a tendency to hang out the doors, risking your life. In the mornings, it's not for the fun of it. 200 people in a 50 people compartment! You're right; it's getting a bit crowded!
Are the Nazi's here?
The first time you see these swastika Hakenkreuz look'a'like banners in the street, you get a bit shocked. But these are not in any way related to the nazi's but are in fact a old Hindu holy symbol.
The monsoon arrives around June. Then you can accept heavy rainfall but the nice thing about it all is that the temperature doesn't drop that much. So you still have that nice hot weather.
When it rains, it really rains. Sometimes it was almost impossible to get to work because of the traffic jam the flooding caused. A part of the problem also lies in the fact that India doesn't have a working sewer system.
Monsoon time is a really, really bad time to be a beggar. Sometimes you see a woman with a small kid on her arm, just shivering and there is nothing to do about it. That's also a part of living in Mumbai.
Haji Ali's Tomb
The tomb is devoted to a Muslim saint who drowned there. On the causeway hundreds of beggars are sitting, hoping to get one or two Rupees.