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Travels and Tribulations

Mumbai

INDIA | Wednesday, 9 November 2016 | Views [232] | Comments [1]

November 5th, and 6th, 2016

It's again been a few days since I could write. It seems Internet is harder to come-by in northern India. Hotels have been limiting us to using one device on Wi-Fi per day. I'm not really sure why, but it's super frustrating.

I arrived in Mumbai from New Delhi on November 5th after being in New Delhi not even a day and missing out on a lot of sight seeing. I got to Mumbai around 1pm. The driver who picked us up from the airport arrived super late. We must have waited on him nearly an hour. Then the drive from the airport to the hotel was sickening. I'm not usually one to get sick while driving, but this guy's driving was just terrible. He also had no idea where he was going. He had to stop and ask for directions on three different occasions. I think it was around 3pm by the time we finally got to the hotel. Once we were dropped off, Jay called the company who supplied the driver and requested a different driver for the next day.

My visit to Mumbai was going to be a special one. My plan was to branch off from Jay and his family and meet up with someone else, which requires a little bit of back-story. Back in June of 2015, I joined this website called Bharat Matrimony. Basically, Indians use it to find someone to marry, or their family uses it for them. So, I guess it's an arranged marriage site. I can't remember how I even found out about the site, but I wasn't on it long before I was banned for not being Indian. While I was a user of the site, I talked to a girl named Annie. Things obviously did not work out and she ended up marrying someone else, but we remained friends and talked somewhat frequently all this time. Once I told her I was coming to India, we started working out a way we could meet. The closest city in which she could meet me was Mumbai. However, she would only be able to come on one day, the 6th, and only for the day due to work commitments. So I was to meet her on the 6th, but on the 5th I would meet her husband Wells since he was already in Mumbai for some work training.

I was able to relax for an hour or two before Wells would come meet me after his training was done for the day. This will sound odd, but I was nervous to meet a dude. However, I was moreso nervous to meet Annie the next day. Part of the reason I was nervous to meet Wells was because I was unsure if he knew how Annie and I started talking. If that's not awkward, then I don't know what is. It turns out he did know, but didn't mind. Wells got to my hotel around 5, I think. He had brought gifts from him and Annie! The gifts were a big box of fine chocolates and traditional Indian clothes! I really wish I knew what the clothes were called. I feel bad for not knowing. After the quick meet and greet, we headed out to Juhu Beach, which apparently was a short walk from my hotel. Normally that beach is pretty crowded, but it happened to not be that crowded that day. Keep in mind, this is India. In the US, we would have considered that beach packed. But we were able to walk freely without having to push through people, so hence I say it was not that crowded. We walked along the beach for a while and eventually found a nice place to watch the sunset. We were waiting to take a train to a different part of the city, and Wells said the trains are easier to take at night.

If you've never heard about the trains in Mumbai, let me give you a quick primer. The trains get so packed, that, in order to get on, you stand in line and wait to be pushed on with the crowd. People hang off these trains because they get so packed. They are super dangerous and intimidating if you've never seen one or been on one. Wells obviously didn't want to put my at risk, so he suggested we wait till sundown. Once the sun had set, we went to the train station and got our tickets. Twenty Rupees (~30 cents) each to the Marine Lines, where we could go to Marine Drive. One our train came, and I got super freaked out. While it wasn't as bad as I just described, it was still pretty intense to get on. The train only stops for what seems like ten seconds, so you have to hurry and jump on. There was also a bit of a crowd, and we had to struggle to jump on. The train, to me, was pretty full when we got on. But at the next stop, it practically emptied and we were able to find some seats for the rest of the ride. It felt like it took 45 minutes to get to our destination, but we finally got there.

Now, it was time to play frogger again and cross a very busy street. We would take a few steps forward trying to get a car to stop or slow down for us so we could cross, but no avail. It took us probably ten minutes to cross Marine Drive so we could get to the strip where everyone hangs out. Once we had crossed, I was surprised to see a very familiar scene. It almost felt a bit like home, but not so much. Mostly everyone was dressed in what I'd consider Western attire. You could see couples sitting along the shore holding each other. There were people going for walks and jogs as well. It was the first time I had seen something like that in India. We walked along the shore for some time before we decided to go grab a beer at a place called the Beer Cafe. The Beer Cafe was full of young Indian couples having drinks and food. That may not seem surprising to you, but come to India and you'll see how rare of a sight that is. There were lots of cute women in there too, but all seemed like they were with someone, unfortunately. I did get some looks while I was in there, but for the most part people didn't seem to notice me. The manager or owner, however, was a bit of a different story. He seemed to make sure we were happy customers and even gave us a "complimentary" beer. Hey, I'm not complaining. Wells and I hung out there for a while and talked before we took the train back to where we came. Wells made sure I got to my hotel safely. He even rode the auto from the train station with me back to my hotel, and then he took the auto back to the train station so he could go back to his hotel. Super nice and helpful guy. The next day, Annie was to arrive in Mumbai at 9:15am and I am to meet her at 10am at the train station....

So it's the 6th now, the day I meet Annie. I have been talking to her for nearly a year and a half. We have video chatted before, and we text somewhat frequently, but I was still so nervous to actually meet her in person. I took an Uber to the train station where I'd meet her and Wells. Wells had gotten her from the airport and then they were taking a train to meet me. I got to the train station and of course my phone had no service. I wasn't even sure I was at the correct train station. I decide to stand off in a corner somewhere so people had no reason to walk past me, but sure enough, they found a way to do just that. I always get the stares when I'm alone. I'm sure I looked super suspicious just standing in that corner by myself. At one point, some guy had come up to me and was saying something to me in Hindi. He seemed to be raising his voice, but I wasn't sure. I told him I do not understand him and he seemed a bit frustrated and then walked away. I couldn't even begin to figure out what he wanted. I had the thought in my head that he was asking me what I am doing standing there, then walked away to get some friends or something. But I have no evidence to support that theory. Then about 30 seconds after that incident, I see Wells waving to me. Wells is a taller guy, about 6 feet tall, so he stands out. I knew if I saw Wells, Annie must be with him. My heart started beating super fast and my palms were getting super sweaty. My brain had started to lock up and I lost all my senses. I didn't know what to do and now I see Annie approaching me fast with a big smile on her face. Am I smiling, or do I still have that straight and intimidating look on my face? Shit, I don't know. I sure hope I'm smiling. Annie comes in for the hug and quickly hugs me. I really thought the hug would be longer. At that point, I can't even remember if I hugged back (I did... I think). I don't know what it is about girls, but I just shut down around them.

After exchanging pleasantries, we headed to the trains to head to our first stop of the day. We were going to Mount Mary Church. I don't know much about the church, but I know it's at least 100 years old. We took a bunch of pictures there as well as payed our respects and then moved on. We took a walk through some neighborhoods and eventually went to a place for lunch. Good Luck Cafe, I think it was called. I had some Iranian black tea there, and it was really good. After lunch we roamed around some more and also went to some Bollywood celebrity's house. I want to say it was Shah Rukh Khan's house. We took some pictures there and then caught a train to Churchgate. Churchgate is the area where the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel is located. If you keep up with news, you'll know that in November of 2008, there was a terrorist attack at the Taj Mahal Hotel. There are still missing windows from where people jumped out at the Taj Mahal Hotel. The windows were never fixed, probably to preserve the memory of that day. We took lots of pictures around the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel, then went to the cafe where there was also a terrorist attack on the same day in November of 2008. We had some milkshakes there. There was still a visible bullet hole in that cafe.

After the cafe we headed back to my hotel to rest up, since it was nearly 4pm already. Well, Annie and Wells accompanied me there and then headed back to their hotel. We were going to rest up for a few hours and meet up again in the evening. I gave Annie some gifts I had brought her before they headed out. I took a nap in the few hours they were gone. We met up again at around 7 and this time Annie's cousin Kaivan had come along. He's a super funny guy. He used to work in a all center for Capital One where he did debt collection. He had plenty of good stories to tell. We headed out to a bar for some drinking, but we had initial problems at locating one. We first tried the one in my hotel, but they had next to no selection and the drinks they did have were damn expensive. We eventually settled on a place called "Gringo" (yes, really). We hung out there all evening having dinner and drinks. Unfortunately I was not able to give Annie the attention I wanted to give her. Her cousin Kaivan was really interested in conversing with me. It was a good thing and I had great conversation with him, but I just couldn't seem to give Annie much attention the whole night. I know she noticed and was probably a bit disappointed.

We hung out until around 11pm and then went back to my hotel. We took a couple group pictures and said our goodbyes. It was really great to meet Annie. She's so sweet and kind. I thought it was cute how she looked out for me the whole day, and whenever we crossed a street, she would grab a hold of my arm to make sure I didn't lag behind or get hit by a car. The day I spent with her was the best day of my trip, by far.

Tags: mumbai

Comments

1

This is by far the best writing you have done!

  Hose A Nov 12, 2016 2:28 AM

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