|Mumbai April 8 Easter Sunday & Monday, Apri 9
Sunday April 8 ~
As dirty as Mumbai is, it has it's glamorous side and it's people are a lot of fun - all 20 million of them! We arrived at 1:00 PM on Easter Sunday and after being cleared by the Indian Immigration authorities (we had to do a face to face meeting with our passports in hand), we were able to leave the ship and explore the city. The port was pretty dirty and ugly. Seabourn had shuttle buses that took us to the ports security gates where we had to negotiate for cab service. Thankfully, Peter, the great negotiator, had a driver -Jimmy - in Mumbai who he has used in the past and even though Jimmy was not available to take us into the city, he did send us another driver to take us there. We were dropped off near the famous Taj Mahal Hotel, that had been terrorized in 2008. We first entered a store where I purchased a pashmina and what a bargain that was. We started at $70 US and I ended up getting it for $30 US. It's beautiful, made of silk and Kashmir. We then walked inside the Taj Hotel and enjoyed its beautiful interior. Diana showed me where the bombs had gone off inside the hotel - it was hard to believe it had only been a couple years ago, not even a trace of the awful incident could be seen. The hotel was busy with guests celebrating the religious holiday weekend. We stopped at a shoe store and looked but didn't see anything, then we walked across the street to the "Gateway of India", unveiled in 1924 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. On February 8, 1948,the arch was the scene of a moving ceremony; the last British soldiers on Indian soil passed through it marking the end of Britain's domination of the subcontinent. We then walked through the streets and shopped some of the bazaars. I found beautiful jeweled handbags and bought one evening bag for $20 US.
Tonight is Peters birthday party. The fun begins at 7:30 in the Club. Those invited are the captain, Erik Saabye, first captain Einar Westad and hotel manager, Engelbert Wartenberg,also in attendance is Michael and Trisha Jones. We dined on caviar and had a main course of Dover Sole. Lovely way to end a great Easter Day.
Monday April 9 ~
Today Peter has made arrangements with Jimmy his driver in Mumbai to take us around the city. Rick had observed Peter and Diana the previous day hand out candy to the children, so I packed up all the nightly chocolates and all the Easter candies our room stewardess left us and rick experienced his first encounter. Our first stop is Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Station,the main train station in Mumbai. Trains leave and arrive every 4 minutes and the station handles 800,000 to 900,000 passengers a day, needless to say, it was chaos inside which we encountered when we so bravely stepped inside almost being run over by the locals who were so in rhythm with this daily routine. We then moved on to the huge Crawford Market, equivalent to the Seattle Pike Place Market, only we don't have dead rats in the Seattle market! Arthur Crawford, the founder of the market in 1867, was Municipal Commissioner from 1865 - 1871. Here cloth, flowers, fruit, vegetables, meat and fish are sold in a vast covered space. The market was colorful and full of aromas, good and bad. We were particularly interested in seeing the Alphonso Mangoes, which are noted to be the best in the world and were just coming into season, which also made them very expensive. The ships chef promised to purchase them for us, which he did. We then walked outside of the market and down a couple of local streets, this whole time I'm commenting to Rick that this Indian man is following us and found out he was one of Jimmy's men watching out for us. Our next stop is the Jain Temple. This marble shrine was built in 1904. The adherents of Jainism follow am austere religion developed in the 6th century BC by Guru Mahavira. It is one of the wealthiest religions in the world. Next we move onto the Hanging Gardens. Here there are many topiaries formed into the shapes of animals. We were asked many times to have our photos taken or be in families photos. The were so curious about us white people. We could also see from the gardens, the lush home of one of the wealthiest men in the world, Ta Ta Taj.
We got back into the van and drove past the Towers of Silence where the last rites of the members of the Parsi community leave there dead for the vultures to pick away the fleHsh and when done, the bones get swept to the bottom of the tower. The Parsis are opposed to polluting earth, air, water or fire so this is why they practice this way.
Next stop - Dhobi ghat, the outside laundry where concrete tubs are used to soak scrub and pound laundry. Sheets come out snowy white,but you wouldn't want to put your best frock through it.
Blau Daji Lad Museum - the Victoria and Albert museum, founded in 1872. We made an unscheduled stop here as we were delayed in traffic (the traffics is horrific in Mumbai ), so our drivers stopped so we could get a break from it. This is a beautifully restored museum that contains information on the history of Mumbai .
We ended the tour at the Oberoi Hotel and shops (this was another of the hotels hit by the terror attacks in 2008). We did a little shopping - I purchased a silver necklace.
Then it was back to the ship for cocktails at the Sky Bar and sailaway.