Travelling to India, I knew what I was doing. I was prepared. For god’s sake- living for more than a year with an Indian roommate who also happens to be my best friend should have taught me something. Truth is - I don’t think Mumbai is something you can be prepared for.
We did not think much about arrangements in Mumbai. Found a couch surfing host, wrote down his address, grabbed a cab at the airport. Exhausted from the flight (maybe the whiskey on the plane had something to do with it too) we fell asleep in the car – and it was not until the driver started poking us with his finger that we woke up.
Completely disoriented, we were kicked out of the car – and found ourselves in what we thought was sizzling hot madness – and what locals ordinarily call Chembur train station. It was hot. It was so damn hot we were soaking wet in just a few seconds. Our red air-deprived faces must have seemed funny to locals, who curiously stared at us. And there were many many of them. If you think you know how many people there would be on India’s train station in the rush hour – think again. Multiply that number by 200, and you might be getting close to the real estimate.
Women in all shades of colorful saris, laughing children coming back from school, old people sleeping on the streets in the extremely dangerous proximity of the thousands of beeping rickshaws, cars, taxis and motorbikes. Add to that crowds of dogs and rats – the latter so huge they look more like rabbits. Plus busy fruit stalls and street merchants. Topped off by the spicy air – burning your eyes from vendors cooking one of those Indian food things in a thick, curried sauce.
Welcome to India.