“Welcome to Mumbai”
By: Sheina Crystal
India, so far, has been amazing.
The flight from DC to London was bearable, considering I took a ZQuil- I slept the majority of the flight. The Virgin Atlantic planes were so cool, but between my carry-on bacg and all the free stuff they gave us that I stuffed under the seat in front of me, there was very little leg room. After a quick pit stop in Heathrow, we were off on the final journey. The nine hour flight to Mumbai was even longer than our previous flight of 6 hours. Unlike our flight to London, we were, unfortunately spread out throughout the plane. About half-way through the flight to India, the man occupying the other middle seat next to me got and never returned. The second half without him was very pleasant- I had plenty of space to cross my legs and store my stuff. Finally, we arrived in Mumbai at midnight.
After a not-long-enough six hours of sleep, we headed out into Mumbai to see the city. We first walked to the Back Bay, which was only a block from our hotel. the bay and Mumbai as a whole, have a very different smell than in America. Unless you’re by a sewer or rowing on the Anacostia, America doesn’t really smell like much. Mumbai always smells, not only like spices and incense, but also like fish and garbage.
After the bay and lunch, we headed to the Gateway of India, which was only about two miles from our hotel. We walked about twice this, getting lost several times. As we walked, many people stared, some even took pictures of us and with us.
Crossing the streets was also different. We were told to be “bold and brave” and try not to get hit. There are no lanes for the cars and for some stretches of the walk, we walked o the street only a feet away from beeping cars and taxis.
While we were standing near the Gateway of India waiting for Donald to purchase a bracelet, a woman approached us. The next thing we knew, she had tied bracelets made of flowers around our wrists. We tried to walk away but she followed us, insisting we buy her something from a store. In the end, we just gave her her 20 INR per bracelet and she finally left us alone.
After the Gateway of India, we tried to walk back to our hotel , but we were all very tired so we took taxies. The man who drove my taxi asked us where we were from and when we told him Washington, DC, he told us he had a friend in San Francisco. This has happened a lot- when we tell people where we were from they always tell us about a connection they have to the States, even if it is completely unrelated to DC. One woman in the airport told us she was from New York and a man on one of our flights told us he was recently in California. I’m pretty sure the man in the taxi even asked us if we knew his friend.
For dinner, we went to an Indian restaurant. The food was very good and very spicy. We ordered lots of butter naan, which was amazing. After dinner, we tried and failed to find a dessert shop with real Indian desserts. On our search, we saw a parade of sorts- there were people playing the drums and others dancing. We then walked back down to the Back Bay and saw some fireworks that were going off over downtown Mumbai before returning to our hotel for the night.