AaaahH Mumbai! The first few hours

Notes first:
Long write-up; working from a cyber cafe, so no pics; sorry have not had the chance to see your posts – will catch up later

Arrived in mumbai around 10 pm Monday night!

My cousin brothers picked me up from the airport and we headed south along Worli and Marine Drive. We stopped at “Naturals” for Sitaphal and Tender coconut icecream! Yumm! Yumm! This is even before got home!

Aiee and papa were thrilled. Even though it was nearing midnight, aiee had some fresh idli and chutney. Boy, I had forgotten how fluffy idlis were supposed to be. And the chutney was good HOT!

The adrenaline was pumping and we couldn't sleep a wink. Unpacked a few bags and fortunately nothing broken (or missing!). At 5 am, I gave up trying to sleep and went out for a walk. At that hour the streets are ruled by dudh-wallahs (milk delivery guys) on bicycles with large metal cans on either side. After several attempts, i got a few good shots.

Befriended two security guards on the night shift, keeping an eye on these fancy shops around here! I took their pics and they were thrilled to see their image on the LCD screen. Another of their colleagues from down the street joined us a little later. It was interesting to see many people sleeping on the side-walks in front of the shops. Escorted by the security guards, I boldly took pics of these folks. Mind you, they are not exactly homeless. Most likely they work at the shops in front of which they sleep.

Walked back home around 6:30 and since my parents were still in bed, M and I went for a walk to the Gateway for India (GOI). WoW, how peaceful at this time of day. It was low tide and the water had receded from the walkway, and I spied a person among the rocks searching for leftover coconuts (it was coconut day 2 days ago). Fancily dressed security wallah in front of the Old Taj – what grace that building has! Hundreds of pigeons munching on chana which passersby drop off. Walked around the Gateway and admired the architecture. I have been hanging out at the GOI since I was born, but had not noticed so many of the details!

The park in front of the GOI was lively and full of people out for a morning walk under the watchful gaze of Shivaji Maharaj. Seeing the young and old alike out here was heartening. Many were stretching, and a few were doing push-ups. The greenery was nice and pretty well maintained. Walked back towards Strand cinema and back to Colaba Causeway! An early morning aarti at the Maruti temple was in session. This is a quintessential tiny roadside temple and I love it. For the aarti, the temple bells were ringing loudly and rhythmically, numbing my senses and forcing me to focus on God! Since this temple is down the street from our home, I have been going here ever since i can remember.

We walked back and went on to my old school – Holy Name High School. Still a beautiful building. About ten kids were dribbling basket balls on the outdoor court and a few others were doing sprint drills. Walked behind it to the Holy Name Cathedral. The church was all lit up and people were waiting for the 7:30 mass. This is truly a superb and exquisitely maintained church. I remember how we used to come here nearly every week during school. As a kid, I remembered the pudgy faced, strict disciplinarian Principal – Father FX Fernandes. He would occasionally conduct Mass as well. Most of what I learnt of discipline I learnt from him. He also created in me a fascination for English literature and poetry.

After sitting in the pews for a few minutes we walked out and did not wait for Mass to start. On the signs outside, I noticed they frequently have mass in Konkani. WoW! And the huge bell outside is a gift from Pope Paul VI commemorating his visit here in the 1960's.

I was glad that within a few hours of arriving here, I was guided to visit these two places of worship – the hindu temple and the catholic church. As i was growing up, both these have influenced me strongly. As we walked back home, it felt like it was only yesterday that I had walked here with with buddies to and from school.

In a few minutes we reached home and aiee had just woken up and was fixing coffee. My first day here was just beginning and I had already had enough memories to last me a long, long time!

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