First Day in Mumbai

Slept very heavily, but breakfast finishes at 10:30 local time, so had to set alarm for about 4:40am BST. Short night. Dragged myself to restaurant, hoping it would be worth it. It was. There were dozens of counters serving different food, all freshly cooked. Some were ethnic Indian, some more European. It all looked amazing, with a huge choice of fruits and breads and hot food. A man walked around serving tiny glasses of chai (a spicy tea). My stomach is rubbish at accepting strange foods and different bacteria, so I am always extremely cautious when away, and limit myself to only freshly cooked hot vegetarian food. This was not easy here, as everything looked so tempting, but I forced myself to have just pancakes and black coffee. Husband ate everything.

We did almost nothing all day. The hotel is lovely, with a pool area and spa and fitness room. There is constant noise from the street below, but you don’t really notice it. There is some interesting art work.

At 3pm local time, we went to the drawing room, as our room included complimentary afternoon tea. I knew it was unlikely I would eat any (wouldn’t be hot freshly cooked food) but Husband was keen to sample it. A beautiful array of cakes and sandwiches arrived – it was so hard not to forget my ‘rule’ and just gobble it down. But I knew I was bound to be ill, so limited myself to tea. There was a pianist, and it was all very lovely.

We decided to go out for a stroll. Asked various members of staff if the area was safe to walk around. None of them understood, and all asked where we wanted to go, and whether we wanted a hotel car or a taxi. Am guessing most guests don’t walk. We looked online, and it seemed that walking around this area was safe, as long as we were careful of pickpockets and scams. Violent crime against tourists seems rare.

We walked out the driveway, and instantly were plunged into ‘real India’. There were tiny shops and stalls and people working on the street. Men were welding on balconies, there was a laminating factory, a printing works, grocery stores, people cooking. The whole of life happening right there on the street. We didn’t walk far – it was hot and we were tired – but we saw so much in such a short time. That is India. Very poor and very rich all overlap, and you can’t avoid noticing the contrast. I was wearing smart clothes and sunglasses, which felt very out of place as soon as I left the hotel. Next time I’ll wear my old jeans and a tee-shirt, though I will still look like a tourist. I am so big here, I feel like a giant compared to local people.

Ate dinner in hotel restaurant. We both tried to order food that wouldn’t be too spicy. We both failed. I find I eat a lot of shortbread (brought from England) when I’m in India. I think to enjoy the food here, you need a very strong stomach and to enjoy extremely hot food (we eat a lot of curry in the UK, but it’s much milder than here).

Went to bed about 8pm (1.30am local time). Another day I want to walk to the sea front, and maybe go to see Dhobi Ghat, which is an ancient laundry and is near enough to walk to. Today was about resting after Christmas and new year and the journey, but we still managed to dip a toe into India. It’s a fascinating place. Thank you for reading.

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