ok, i have to admit, we stayed in the hotel more than not, and that was a pity. we were so amazingly jet lagged that we just couldn’t adjust, and only made it out for our appointment with the clinic and surrogate.
soooo… here is what i saw and noticed about the city.
the traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as i thought it would be. actually, it was oddly not bad… so much so, that i wonder if maybe there was some sort of a holiday, or maybe we just didn’t go into areas that are as high traffic as i expected. we had gone to Cairo in 2011, just before the crazy started, and the traffic was WAAAAAAAAAAAY worse. yes, in Mumbai you still have a nutter system where there are no rules it seems, nobody has side mirrors, so they just either shoulder check and/or honk to say they are coming over. i was marveling at the fact that i saw ONE CAR use their turn signal light. i think horns are an indicator, rather than a warning like they are here, they basically honk to say “hi, i am moving in your direction, like it or not”. traffic lights are a suggestion, and not one that people take very seriously. i didn’t see any accidents though.
there are a wide variety of taxis, from auto-rickshaws to very nice taxis with a/c. i didn’t see a person-powered rickshaw at all, though i have seen a documentary where they were in Mumbai and people were trying to save the industry. i don’t think i would go in a rickshaw anyways, it’s just not my thing. i mentioned this before, but our first taxi was something a strange older car, with no seatbelts, a/c, or shocks. our driver had no clue where we were going, and had to ask directions multiple times, and it was us who finally found signs pointing to our hotel (thank gawd the hotel had posted those signs, or we never would have found it). the next ride we had was from a hotel car, which was just a mini-van like any other, but had seatbelts and a/c. the cost was totally ridiculous though, compared to taxis, in my opinion. then, we wanted to go see a hotel that was supposed to be close to the clinic, and some guy in the clinic gave us some instructions that were totally wrong. therefore, when we got into another taxi, the little van kind, we ended up driving around for about 40 minutes, never finding the place we were looking for, and asking finally to be let off where we had gotten in. it turned out that the initial instructions were wrong, we were actually two minutes away via walking….that taxi ride was an adventure though, and probably the most “Mumbai” part of our trip, so it was fine with me. hubby sat in the front, so his experience was totally different, and i can’t say he enjoyed it…. pretty freaky i think.
we only saw a few beggars, but that may have been because we were in taxis, the hotel, and the clinic much of the time. yes, we saw poverty everywhere, and poor people, but the only people that put their hand out in the traditional way were two, then three tiny wee children near a cafe we were at. i felt so bad for them, they weren’t wearing any pants/bottoms, and they were very snotty and small and sickly looking. i just wanted to bundle them up and take them home for a bath and a meal, but it’s not really an option. i am sure they were being watched by their handlers? i don’t know what those people are called… assholes i guess, or beggar pimps?
in general, people are SUPER FRIENDLY in Mumbai. even though there is a major language barrier in most cases, we got mostly smiles and kindness from people. even when our taxi drivers were lost and we stopped to ask directions, everyone was willing to give their two cents or suggestions with a smile. i never felt scared or uncomfortable at all (other than the heat).
so, it was only the beginning of May, and it was VERY hot. when we stepped off the plane, i was dripping with sweat. i am a face sweater, so i was really glad to have brought handkerchiefs to keep my sweat under control. i kind of wish i had brought a fan, and i will next time. i have a little battery powered one, and also chinese folding fans, so i may bring both. it’s humid, so whether it’s the air moisture or your own sweat, prepare to be moist. i would recommend not bringing any clothing but natural fibres and cotton; i brought one pair of slacks to wear to the appointment that had poly in them, and i will not do that again… ugh! loose and flowing is where it’s at!!! and sandals, only. i wasn’t out in the sun enough to get a burn or need a hat, but i noticed lots of Westerners or Europeans had burns, so keep that in mind. and it’s only going to get hotter!!!
mosquitoes are EVERYWHERE. someone had suggested to us that maybe we wouldn’t need to use anti-malarial medication on this short trip because we would be in the middle of a large city, and there probably wouldn’t be many mosquitoes but that was not the case. there seem to be lots of pieces of standing water, ponds, rivers, etc., in Mumbai proper, so there were mosquitoes even in the hotel (not in the room (which had no opening windows), but in the restaurant and lobby. the hotel staff even had these little tennis rackets that they would swat the mosquitoes with and they would electrocute the mosquitoes. i think i only got one mosquito bite, which is currently itching on my ankle, hopefully it wasn’t a malaria carrier. we will be using anti-malaria medication on the next trip, no ifs, ands, or buts (and yes, i cleared it with the clinic doctor, that it’s safe prior to egg retrieval)
at the SCIA (Mumbai) airport, it can be a mad house. we arrived in the middle of the night, and it wasn’t so bad, we got ushered through pretty quickly and were into our taxi probably 30 minutes after touch down. i have to say, it was very strange but i feel like we were ushered through because we were foreigners, it seems like nobody wanted to check our bags, they just let us through. we had one guy who helped us find our assigned taxi ask us for a tip, and when we offered him rupees he said he preferred Canadian dollars, and when we gave him $5 he said it was a very small tip. we didn’t give him more, and later found out that $5 CAD is a pretty grandiose tip, so he was just pushing to see what he could get. no biggie. on the other hand, when we were leaving Mumbia, this is when the airport was madness. we were also leaving in the middle of the night, but going in was harsh. you had to line up to get into the airport, and everyone was pushing and shoving. one guy, maybe who worked for the airport (? he had an ID badge on of some sort and a light coloured shirt, which seemed a bit uniform like) just grabbed us and said “come with me” and pulled us through all the lines to the front, and got us through in minutes. then he guided us to our gate. we gave him 100 INR for a tip, and he was gracious and seemed happy with that. i have to say, we were a couple of hours early for our flight, and had he not helped us, we may not have made it. the security lineups and clearance to get out of India were much, much, much worse than getting in, so give yourself lots of time to get through CSIA airport when you are leaving. take all the help you can get; our guy was a life-saver!
well, that’s enough for now, i will add more as i think of more…