Well here we are. India. Two or more years ago Eliot and I started talkin about a trip and, through an intense year of planning and talking (especially the last four months) we're here where we said we were going. That alone is further than a lot of plans make it and I want to take the opportunity to pat myself and Eliot on our respective backs. So patted, let's talk about today.
Our tiny hotel room is where the tale begins. After two sink showers (the shower head is abysmmal nevermind that there is no shower area, just a head in the middle of the wall), we caught a rickshaw out to the train station. There is so much to say that I don't know how to sum it up ... I
Imagine a managerie on the move. There are elephants ( buses), maybe some rhinos (trucks), oxen (vans), tigers (taxis, cars), gazelles perhaps (rickshaws), rabbits (motorcycles), and squirrels (bicycles). There are also horses (horses) and cows (cows) but nevermind those fir the moment. So this big managerie just cruises down the road with no rules, no lanes (animals, remember?) just lumbering along. Big things go I. Big places, small things go in small places. If you see a gap and cut in front of everyone just to nearly collide head first into someone else, almost crush a few pedestrians by going up on a curb and just manage to slip into a space, well that's par for the course. I AM NOT EXAGERATING. we passed within inches of buses and taxis more than once. And not like "I could have reached out and touch the car" close. like "had my knee been barely poking out of the rickshaw I wouldn't have a leg" close.
On to the train station where we confidently purchased our tickets and were on our way ... In the complete opposite direction from our destination we soon found out. After much asking around and looking like total gringos we met the goddess of helpfulness, grace, patience and gringo-tolerance: Shilpa. This young Indian maid not only helped us buy tickets, she boarded the train with us and rode a few stops to make sure we were going the right way. Her reply to our over zealous thank you's? With a big smile: "it's in my nature ... I have no choice." genuinely beautiful.
Bless you, Shilpa.
Once we disembarked, we cruised around downtown Mumbai looking for the Indian tourism bureau that our hotel had recommended. We grabbed some food and went from one shop to the next trying to find this place. Eventuallyvwe ended up in travel call center and they put us right on track. As in America, when you need help with something it seems that eventually you'll end up talking to an Indian call center.