So, we sort of completed our shopping, which only some minor accessories and sari blouse left for hunting, we are heading to Central Mumbai with Dheepa's "change of plan" - we are going to look for Fab-India and some sight seeing (Surprise surprise!!!!!).
Because India and Indians are ever changing, all you need is a little patience and be ready to go with the (very super fast kind of) flow, or you will get, "This is now how its done here," lecture again.
It was almost 3pm when we came out of City Mall. It was getting pretty hot (though the wind was cooling), and we had no idea where and who our driver is.
So, Dheepa did the usual 5 phone calls away routine.
25 minutes later, we found our driver, who was waiting there for like more than 25 minutes in a white colour van.
I would love to figure out why Dheepa spoke to the feller who booked the van than to ask for the driver's number instead. Well, it's how its done here, everyone can be your brother, your friend, and total stranger so better let the local do what they do best - 5 phone calls away routine.
But Dheepa is not quite a local, but... never mind. I stopped minding already.
So we got on the van and took off to the city.
There was tol when crossing the causeway.
Dheepa saw some pretty cool residential area against the hill on the other side of the causeway.
She asked the driver if it was (insert a name of the place), and the driver said yes. Dheepa turn to me, "Would you like to experience some Punjabi's hospitality?"
"Sure." I'm up for all things Indian.
And she started making a call.
Long time ago, Dheepa and husband was living in Vietnam. The Indian expat's community was very small in India, so everyone knows everyone. She met these couple there and very soon they became like family. she called them uncle and auntie.
We will stop by their home after we done out things in the City, but I wasn't sure if there will be dinner.
Ok. Now... what were we suppose to do again?
So... about 45 minutes later (traffic was good), we arrived in Central Mumbai.
We took a slow drive through Marine drive and the city is full of beautiful colonial building. It was so cool... Intercontinental Hotel was one of them... and many more. I totally immerse in the beauty of it.
Other than hotels, all the buildings, no matter how beautiful, was covered with a layer of black... something... It used to be green and yellow, I believe.
Anyhow, we drove by Marine drive... It was almost sunset, so a lot of elders, elderly couples, young couples and family with small children are taking a leisurely walk there... Occasionally, you'll find someone giving services like massage and shoe polishing here and there.
As we drove passed a roundabout and saw this really huge mansion that was the police headquarter, also beautifully erected with pride but covered with black thing I mention before.
As we were crossing the city, the driver pointed out a hideous looking multi-stories building because it was some VVIP's residents.
Slowly we arrived to an area full of colonial residential looking places. Rows and rows of beautiful houses with all its already faded glory...
Its glory was so poorly maintained all of them was covered with black thing all over it, but hey! You cannot deny that they were beautiful once many years ago.
"We are going to the Ghandi's house." Dheepa said.
I thought we were looking for Fab-India.
"And he said," She pointed at the driver, "There's nothing much in there to see."
I don't think the driver been in Ghandi's house before, because he dropped us at the wrong street, and we found the house about 2 streets away.
It was very nice. A small part of the house was still under renovation, but all the exhibits are pretty well done.
Ghandi's hand written notes, letter, newspaper articles, photos are well preserved. Painting and sketches of Ghandi, he life stories complete with photo, and an area with miniature/sculpture of events that took part throughout Ghandi's life.
It was weird walking in the house where this great man used to lived and worked. The one man that united India and killed by his own people...
"I have to show you a movie," Dheepa whispers, "It was about Ghandi, but without Ghandi in it."
We spent about 40 minutes in there.
The driver was glad to see us. He thought we went shopping!
Anyway, our next destination was...
GATEWAY OF INDIA!!!!!!!!!
This is so far the most beautiful and symbolic destination in Mumbai.
Right next to Taj Hotel!
Locals, foreigners, beggars, police, soldiers, tankers, scanner for bombs and the "priest", girls clad in Saris Maharathi style, and the statue of the very popular Maharathi king...
All of Mumbai! Was here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And I left my camera at home...
So much for the very affirmative, "We wouldn't have time for sight seeing."
I am upset now... Stay tune for part 4.