Yesterday was Day 4 of my Mumbai trip.
After staying in the hotel and going to the office and back for 3 days and not much else, I decided that I need to get out and see the city – downtown or South Mumbai. The hotel I am staying at provides car service where you can book a car and driver for the day and you can go anywhere for 8 hours for a set fee, extra if exceed the time allow.
I started the day at 9:30 in the morning to avoid rush hour traffic going into city central. I have driver’s license and can drive in NY, but I wouldn’t dream of ever want to or consider driving in Mumbai. It’s crazy here. Except major streets, the road condition is terrible and bumps and holes everywhere. None of the side streets has traffic lights. The ones that do people don’t always follow them. There is no pedestrian street crossing signals and you cross at your own risk.
It took an hour to get to downtown Mumbai. The relatively new project that created the Bandra-Worli Sea Link provided a shortcut that made the trip quicker. Along the way, I took many pictures (from inside the car) and will post them soon. We passed the Haji Ali Mosque and Mausoleum, Mani Bhavan (Mahatma Gandhi Museum), the Flora Fountain, and many other places. We stopped at the Dhobi Ghat where hundreds of men scrub laundry.
I was planning to go the Elephanta Cave but found out that it takes an hour boat ride each way to reach from the Gateway of India. Since my work day starts in the afternoon, I would have enough time to go so I will try it on a different day.
I visited the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The Taj is a really grand hotel and it was recommended by the shopkeeper that I should use their washroom if I have the need. So I walked in with great confidence as if I belonged and a guest at the hotel, then used the washroom and left.
I did some shopping on this day trip and came back to the hotel just in time to start my work day.
Occasionally I have to travel for my work to visit other office locations and it is mostly within the U.S. The last time I traveled internationally for work was in 2011 during hurricane Irene when I couldn’t get back to NY from Belgium for 3 days. I ended up going to Chicago first, stayed for two nights, then went to Baltimore and took the (very affordable) Bolt express bus home.
In less than a week, I am going to Mumbai, India. This will be the second time I am in Mumbai. The first time was in October 2009 during Dawali (festival of light), one of the biggest holiday celebrations in India . I went with a small group of people to New Delhi first, then to Mumbai. The first impression of India when we got off the plane in Delhi and walked out to the terminal was there were a lot of people waiting to pick up passengers at 1 o’clock in the morning. Then, when we were in the car and on the road to our hotel, we saw more people, mostly sleeping on the side of the road or on the street. A lot of traffic even in the early morning.
After checked in the hotel and freshen up, we got on the pre-arranged private air conditioned minivan and were on our way to the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is located in Arga and is a 5-hours drive from Delhi. We drove through some very bumper roads and saw many local areas and villages. Local people tend to sleep and work in the same place. We saw many small hut like structures made out of mud and hay. You can see a mattress laying on the ground in the back of the structure and there would be a wooden stand in the front where they are selling something like food or hand crafts.
The Taj Mahal was very impressive and breathtaking. No wonder it is on the list of Wonders of the World.
We only stayed for two nights (3 nights if you count the one I had to catch a plane at 3 in the morning) in Mumbai. We managed to visit the Gates of India and the Taj hotel where the terror attack happened in 2008. Mumbai is a city full of life and people, regardless of what time of the day it is.
The first trip was more of a getting to know India and the people kind of trip. We did a lot of networking with people from other business units within our company.
This second trip will be quite different as I will be going alone. There will not be any sightseeing trips. I will be working 9 to 5, eastern NY time everyday, which means I will be working 6:30pm to 2:30am local time. One good thing of working these hours (or depending on how you look at it) I will have plenty of time to go shopping or sightseeing on my own if I don’t want to sleep. I am “glass is half full” kind of girl so I always look at things on the bright side.
I can’t wait to see Mumbai again. I wonder what my impression will be to really see it the second time and have time to explore the city this time (I hope).