Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bombay Dreams

After beating a retreat from the giant spiders in Goa, I've been taking it easy here in east Dadar, central Mumbai. The allergic reaction to the spider bites is made worse by prickly heat, a rash that the city newspapers warn is especially common this year from the sun and pollution.

I've ventured into south Mumbai a few times on the city's surprisingly user-friendly local rail system. It ain't the NYC subway, but there are three parallel lines running up and down the city, so you can get at least close to anywhere you're going. I pay Rs. 5 (10 cents) to get from Dadar to Victoria Terminus, the main railstation, a cab-able distance to almost everything in south Mumbai. At my host family's advice, I sat in the ladies-only compartments. They've reserved two on each train to prevent "eve-teasing," the blatent sexual harassment Indian women come to expect even here in progressive Mumbai. Sitting sari to sari with the ladies, I still heard hisses from the next car over.

Yesterday I boated out to Elephanta Island to see ancient rock-cut sculptures of the god Shiva tucked away inside caves, mercifully out of the scorching sun. The big attraction is the giant triple-headed Shiva statue, where the god is depicted as a destroyer, creator and protector.

I never got to realize my Bombay dreams of being an extra on a movie set or mingling with the stars at the Taj Hotel's ultra posh Insomenia.

But my main aspiration now is to... get the heck out of here.

I leave tomorrow. I am going home. I will miss Suman, the sweet gap toothed live in maid/cook, who brought me fresh papaya, toast and tea this morning. I'll miss having an air conditioned car take me places in a city that makes New York look tame. I will miss temple hopping with Shubra, my host mom here, and the regular calls to prayer outside the apartment from the three surrounding mosques.

I'm too tired and heat stroked and drugged (on prescription meds!! antihistimines and such) to list everything I"ll miss about India. Maybe tomorrow or whenever I'm coherent. In the states.

I can't wait.


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