We leapt out of bed the following day, with a spring in our step, eager to attack all that Mumbai had to offer. We strolled down to the ‘Gateway to India’, the scene of my panic attack on my second day in Mumbai, all those months before.
Our plan was to take the trip out to Elephanta Island to see the Unesco World Heritage temples there, but we were way-laid. We were cunningly sold a city tour – encompassing the slums, the laundry, the two hotels where the bombers were (?), Jain temples and Gandhi Ji’s house.
Mum had great fun with her new camera – my old Canon G10. My G10 took me faithfully around five countries and through, literally, thousands of photos. Our love affair is over, however, as I am now the proud new owner of a Canon 550d so expect more photos, hopefully markedly better ones.
We saw the sights, heard the tour guides broken English commentary and declined to buy anything in the obligatory tourist shop at the end. We were dropped off at a fab little thali place that was conveniently located just next to our fabric shop where the day before we had purchased our new salwars. We popped in to see if they were ready before a quick trip to the internet to book train tickets for our next destination, then we were to catch the last boat to Elephanta.
However, the clothes were not ready and I mistakenly booked us waitlisted tickets on the train to Udaipur the following day. We rushed back to the Gateway to catch the boat – which we missed. Dejected and blaming each other we made our way to another internet cafe.
On the way a very wily young boy tried to sell us a map. We did not need or want his map or his children’s books, but after hearing his story about how he is a good student and that he doesn’t like to beg for money, he artfully suggested that we might like to buy him some rice. A very reasonable suggestion and we concurred. He told us he would take us to the rice shop and then show us a good internet cafe. We had envisioned buying him a plate of rice for him to get his skinny bones around, but he had much more grandiose plans than that. He proposed that we buy him 5kgs of rice, thus feeding his whole family for one month.
This ‘tiny’ bag of rice would set us back Rs500 (and although not a huge sum by Sainsbury’s standards, you must understand that Rs500 is my daily budget and I wouldn’t even pay for a hotel at that price). He stood there with his cheeky little face and categorically denied that he was begging. We negotiated with him and it was finally decided he would, in fact, accept Rs10 to take home to his mother.
We did then go and spend another torturous hour or so in the internet cafe where we tried every which way to get straight from Mumbai to Jaisalmer (it cannot be done) and finally decided to take a risk and hope that we got seats on the train the following day. We would be going from Mumbai to Udaipur, a hop at only eighteen hours. And although you don’t know it because I never published the blog, Udaipur is the last city that I went to in India the first time round. It is beautiful and romantic and perhaps my most favourite city in all India that I visited. It is hustling and bustling and I did cooking classes and art classes and I loved it. Maybe one day I really should publish that blog……hmmm, we’ll see.
The wise words of GhandiJi.