Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Gateway of India

I have to be honest and say Mumbai is really not that bad. It has a lot to do with us not really having the chance to get out and do very much but work and go back to the hotel. However, Thursday night Benjamin and I took Glenn, my Director, out to dinner. We decided to go to downtown Mumbai and see the Gateway of India and go to a restaurant the hotel recommended.

Before I tell you about the trip downtown, here is a little history of Mumbai taken from my travel book: When British Governor Gerald Aungier set up camp on Bombay island in 1672, he probably had no idea what he was about to create. Fast forward 200 years and Bombay (now Mumbai) is India's "Maximum City", bold, brash, fast and frenetic, always faddish, fashion-obsessed and undeniably animated in all aspects of its life. Three centuries of development have transformed 7 scrubby islands into a mighty metropolis of towering apartment blocks, colonial mansions, seafront promenades and air-conditioned shopping malls.

Mumbai is where Indian fantasies of wealth and glamour engage in a bizarre dance with poverty and slums, and where economic boom flirts with social collapse. More than 60% of Mumbaikers live in shanty-towns, yet the city also boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

In my opinion, the description above over-glamorizes Mumbai; however, since we are staying outside the city and can't go into downtown without it taking an hour and a half, I have not seen any of the 'nice' areas of town. But even on our drive to downtown, we did not see any of the 'nicer' neighborhoods or at least what the above description indicates...but apparently they are somewhere around here. Aren't there suppose to be princes and princesses in India???

As I mentioned before, driving here is just not an we, of course, hired a driver from the hotel to take us downtown. The drive itself is part of the adventure. The streets are completely out of control. Imagine the worst traffic and the craziest drivers you have ever encountered and multiply that by 1000 (I am not over-exaggerating). In the area where our hotel is located there are basically no traffic laws, no lanes to drive in, and no control whatsoever. You literally just jump into the chaos and go. You could not drive in Mumbai without a horn to honk! I am going to get more street pictures next week to be able to post and try to show you what I am talking about.

Also contributing to the street traffic is the amount of pedestrians on the street. People live on the sidewalks in makeshift tents and huts thus making it difficult to walk. People walk, ride bikes, etc along with the cars on the streets. Unbelievable!

Anyway, it took us 1.5 hours to get to downtown and the Gateway of India, which meant it was getting dark outside. Downtown Mumbai is a coastal city and surrounded by the Arabian Sea. Driving along Harbor Drive we saw beautiful sandy beaches and a lot of people hanging out on the beaches. I need to research and see if people actually swim the water...I have no idea and did not see anyone in the water.

We finally made it to the Gateway of India, Mumbai's most famous landmark, which was built for a one-off visit by King George V in 1924. The arch was intended as a monument to the enduring nature of the British Empire, but just 24 years later the last British soldiers marched through the gateway to waiting boats as India stepped forward to Independence. Architecturally the Gateway is a classic triumphal arch, but the style and decoration borrows heavily from the 16th century Gujarati architecture.

I was a bit upset India did not build a monument to welcome us to this country! What is up with that??

The Gateway of India

The area by the Gateway was extremely crowded with tourists and locals trying to sell you things. The funniest part of our visit to the Gateway of India was this little girl trying to sell magnets to Benjamin. She approached him as soon as we got out of the car and simply would not take 'no' for an answer. He tried and tried to ignore her, but she just kept on nagging him and walking with us. Glenn and I didn't seem to have much trouble telling people 'no' so they would go away. This little girl was hilarious! She was probably 9-10 years old. As I was trying to take a picture of Glenn and Benjamin in from of the Gateway, the little girl looked up at Benjamin and said "I pose too". It was so hilarious! Check out Benjamin's adopted daughter and other pictures from the Gateway of India! By the way, Benjamin did not come home with any magnets!!!

Glenn and Benjamin with his adopted Indian daughter!

Tippa and Benjamin with his adopted Indian daughter!

Due to the overcrowding and the time of day, the pictures taken at the Gateway of India did not turn out all that well.

After we left the Gateway of India, we headed over to a restaurant named Indigo. We sat down and the waitress presented us with our menus. Please note...."Robert Moulder and Friends" printed on our menus! We certainly felt welcomed here!!!

Meet Robert (Benjamin) Moulder and Friends:

The meal was incredible and probably one of the best I have ever had and everyone agreed. I had sea bass, Benjamin had steak, and Glenn had chicken! YUM! I also had mango with ice-cream for dessert and Benjamin had a peach tart (I think). It was incredible! We will definitely try to get back to this place next week! It was certainly worth the 1.5 hours drive to and from the hotel!!

1 comment:

  1. agnes4:15 PM

    Oh it looks so beautiful! What an awesome experience!