Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bombay Sapphire

Mumbai Jan 2007

Bombay.....God what can I say it blew my mind and Curt and I loved it. For everything about it was contrasting, exciting, difficult, fucked up and fantastic.
It was also a crazy time for me and Curt as we were constantly weighing up whether or not we would be able to continue to Dubai and onwards to Guatemala or try and get me to Australia and at any one point we seemed to be doing one or the other. I was too unwell to visit the slums so I'm throwing this over to Curts Views.

Mumbai - Curtis View

So we arrive, tired from Goa to Mumbai and while looking around we meet a fellow traveler at the airport by the name of AJ, and promptly share a cab to Colaba - the place to be for travellers.
As usual we find ourselves under prepared arriving into the the city at late without a hostel/hotel organised and in the middle of the busiest week of the year.

Luckily our new found Friend turns out to speak Hindi, which saves us buckets of money and sorts us into a clean reasonably priced hotel for the night.

So we settle into our room and then wander 500m up the rd to the infamous Leopold's for a few jugs of the cold stuff. We head out to 'Koyla' a splendid roof top bar with 360 views of the city and outstanding Sheesha's. After that myself and AJ try to quickly squeeze one last drink in at the Taj Mahal Hotel where I hand over the ridiculous price of 560 rps for a round! defiantly the most expensive beer in India.

The following morning we organise a tour of the largest slum in Mumbai, easily the most interesting and value for money tour/experience I've had in India. We get taken to the slum in comfort via a A/C 4x4. After stopping briefly, to buy books and Pencils for the school kids we head on in.

Some small Slum facts to chew on:

The Slums take up 8% of the space in in Mumbai, and 55% of Mumbai live there.

The largest Slum turns over 622 million pound PA.

They recycle all kinds of plastics, bottles, computers, and medical waste (yes drips, needles etc - by hand!)

Most people work where they live.

And the average wage per month is 2000 rps. Thats: 57 AUS Dollars, 23 Pounds or 45 US Dollars - for those who cant convert)

The slums take up 430 acres and thats not including the pavement dwellers.

It really was one of the most amazing things to see such recycling on a large scale. The people are blissfully happy and really interested to see and meet us. We take a lot of photos and at the end of the day we are quite impressed with what we thought initially would be a depressing scene. It really was a city within city.

I would highly recommend doing this tour, one of the best things I've done traveling and the school teachers really appreciated the gifts for the children.

One last tip bit for those who have read Shantaram: our tour guide was purely Prabakar. He knew everyone and everyone knew him in Mumbai, he can get you the best deal on the street for anything you want and hes a funny fucker to boot! This guys your man.

Lastly, 80% of the 300 - 500 rps that you spend on this tour for a couple hours, goes back into the slums. So Get on it!

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