The attack monkeys of Elephanta

In Mumbai's shocking gridlock, your definition for words like "close," "quick" and "convenient" must, by necessity, be adjusted. But so must your definition of "house" and "home." Lots of words in India take on new meanings. Soo and I had some free time Friday and wanted to pop out to see the sites, so we jumped in the car for the "quick" trek through Mumbai traffic to Colaba on the south side of town, and from there to Elephanta Island. "Quick" by Mumbai standards means a mere two hours in traffic. Colaba is the sea-side Mumbai district home to such landmarks as the Gateway to India and Taj ... [Read More]

What a country

The sight of a human body hurtling through the air after colliding with a car is one I’ll probably never forget. I’ve wondered during past visits to India how more people aren’t hit, given the endless mass of pedestrians and automobiles sharing the same space. So today, as if on cue, my colleague Joy and I walked out of an office building just in time to watch a man attempting to cross the far side of the road end his days as road kill. The impact shattered the car’s windshield, and the man, after which a small crowd gathered to calmly inspect the carnage. After a substantial wait, filled with ... [Read More]

Blogging from Bangalore

Mumbai slum

Visitors to Bangalore are greeted by a huge Yahoo! sign as they leave the airport. Funny - that was my exact reaction on leaving Mumbai. Based solely on what I could gather during my dark 40 minute drive from the airport to my hotel, Bangalore is very different from Mumbai. I even saw one car yield to oncoming traffic. Today was another hot, dirty, typical day in Mumbai. The only excitement came when an ATM machine took my card, asked for my pin, then promptly blinked back to it's home screen, refusing to return my card. Having become well aquainted with crime in Mumbai I assumed this ... [Read More]

Drooling with dignity

My day began at 4:30 am, the unhappy hour at which I had to wake to catch a train from Mumbai to Pune. Sigh. A three-hour-trip on a dingy train -- precisely what I like to be doing at the crack of dawn. I do mornings rather poorly. My train departed from Victoria Station, Mumbai's famous old landmark, left-over from India's British colonial days. Victoria Station is striking, and might even be attractive, minus the undulating mass of bodies, stench and filth. The train was filtly, crowded, and creaked ominously at seemingly random moments, but long ride was dull and uneventful. I even slept a bit, enough so that I awoke with a ... [Read More]

Welcome to Mumbai?

"Mumbai is filthy. You will not like it here." Such was my introduction to India last night by the driver sent by my hotel to collect me from the airport. During the 45 minute long drive  he regaled me with tales of how filthy this teeming city is, how poor the residents, how miserable his life, and how hopeless his prospects. By the time we arrived at the hotel I was contemplating suicide myself. Fortunately, walking into the new Westin Garden City brightened my mood considerably, and I quickly forgot thoughts of hurling myself into Mumbai traffic. The Westin is a gorgeous hotel. Full disclosure here - ... [Read More]