Mumbai, Bombay, whatever you want to call it - it is noisy, dirty, stinky and I love it. It looks like every Indian movie I've seen and is everything I imagined. We spent most of our days walking around and taking in the atmosphere.
What amazes me is the city's spirit. We went the Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the most recognizable symbols of the city and it still stands tall and proud. It is hard to imagine that less that one year ago it was the scene of horrific terrorist attacks. Coincidentally, events took place the week we purchased our Round-the-World Ticket (in addition to protests in Thailand that closed the airports and riots in Greece, two more countries on our list to visit).
Riding the train in Mumbai was definitely an experience. The trains are horribly crowded. There are no doors on the cars and people really do hang out the train. The train stops for 30 seconds at each station which barely allows enough time to push your way in or out of the car. As the train pulls away you can still see guys running after it and jumping on. Safety first! We had to wait for two trains to pass before we could get on the third, not without me getting groped.
The best day was when we went to see the Elephanta Caves. They are located on a small island about an hour's ride on a ferry. The caves are amazingly carved out of the mountain which images of deities. On the way to the caves we met a local man named Chandrakan who invited us to his house in the neighboring village for tea. Given our trusting issues, we didn't take him very seriously. Nevertheless, after the caves we started making our way towards the village where we met Chandrakan waiting for us. What a beautiful soul! We spent the afternoon learning to make Indian tea, drinking and chatting. In the end, he gave me a jade bracelet as a gift. I will never forget the new friend we made that day.
After three days of Mumbai we made our way south to Goa, known for amazing beaches and even more amazing parties. The beaches are great for relaxing, and we are spending most of our days lounging around on the sand and soaking up the sun. The strangest thing is that there are lots of cows hanging out at the beach; it is very distracting when they come and try to eat your book.
We made it to India for the Ganesha Festival and every evening there is dancing on the streets and fireworks on the beach before Ganesha is put out to sea. We also made it to India to catch the end of the monsoon season. So far we have been lucky that it rains mostly during the night, except for today...it just doesn't stop and that's why I am indoors writing this blog.