So I have some good news! I mentioned in my Myanmar and Thailand posts that all of my photos were lost and I was super bummed. I gave my uncle the phone and he somehow worked some super stealth magic that both T-Mobile and the phone repair place are unaware of AND HE SAVED MY PHOTOS!! I’ll do another post after this one with the recovered ones from Myanmar and Thailand. WOOT WOOT!
India was my longest stay on this work trip and was BUSY. We were pretty much going non-stop, most days from about 6am to 9pm (and a couple later days as well). Some weekend days were used as travel days between cities, and some days we flew in the morning and traveled straight to a school from the airport. In case you’re wondering, airports in India are all kinds of ridiculous, and when traveling within the country, the weight allowances aren’t that high, aka most of the people on our trip had to pay extra every.single.flight. I was lucky and only had to pay twice because I had to carry brochures during a couple of our flights when boxes didn’t arrive to the hotel on time, and got reimbursed for the baggage fees as well.
We started in Mumbai and while I had been in SE Asia for about about a week or so, India was a completely different experience. I knew the economic differences were great, but was blown away when I saw it in person. In all the cities we visited (and I know there are far more towns/cities that are worse off), I noticed it the most in Mumbai. The slums were very apparent and everywhere. There were so many people begging and living on the street, most heartbreaking off all were the kids. They might not have spoken any English, but the universal hand gesture for hungry /food breaks your heart. You would see these huge, expensive high rise buildings, then a row of trees and shrubbery. Just on the other side of the shrubbery, a mere block away, were the slums.
While driving around, we saw these huge bookshelves lining the streets – turns out it’s basically an open-air library of used books. You can borrow them for super cheap and there were literally THOUSANDS of them – this book-lover just wanted to run over and smell all the pages (I’m a weirdo, I know). Buuutttt they wouldn’t let me off the bus to publicly embarrass myself (I’m almost positive they were more worried about me embarrassing them!)
That night a few of us that hadn’t been to Mumbai before wanted to go see the Gateway of India, so we took an hour-long taxi ride south to find it. It’s located next to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which was attacked by gunmen in 2008, so we headed there to see it as well as pay our respects.
Example #19845 of how I can’t take selfies if I’m also trying to get something in the background as well.
Much better standard Sheena pose.
About 10 seconds after taking the below picture, everyone stopped looking at the Gateway and turned to look at us. After being circled by at least 40 Indian men, we decided it was probably time to go.
We walked a little further to where there was a street market (we love those!) and walked around, trying to see if there was anything small enough to shove into our carryons without breaking our backs.
In case you were wondering what it looks like to sweat your face off in India in October, this is it. I like to claim that it’s just my skin glistening off the “gold” of the earrings I’m contemplating buying.
Then went to Leopold Cafe, one of the first sites attacked in the series of attacks in Mumbai in 2008 to grab a drink and some snacks, since we had been out all day, and still had an hour+ taxi ride ahead of us, to get back to the hotel by 10pm. Naturally, when you have a bunch of people with you combined with an hour taxi ride, you shove as many people as you can into one taxi. Not sure how it happened, but the shortest and tallest person in our group ended up sitting in the back back of the taxi, aka the sideways seats. Who needs legroom anyway?
And then you close the back door and it just gets that much more cozy. I’m grateful that we all had a drink at the Leopold Cafe to calm our nerves for that taxi ride.
I said I would never complain about California traffic again. Then I got home and after 3 days of commuting, I complained.
Some days we were super famished and hadn’t spent any money because one of the schools provided us a box lunch. Since we each had the food stipend provided by work, we decided to treat ourselves one night in Mumbai. We asked the concierge at the hotel for a recommendation and he sent us over to Hakkasan - we gave him a high five upon our return. The below picture does NOT do this food justice. I ordered truffle dumplings and they seriously melted in my mouth – they were so delicious and rich and amazing. When I’m a millionaire, I’m going to eat these all the time. Annnnnddd I just discovered there is a Hakkasan in San Francisco, so I might be in trouble haha
… next up is Madurai, Kodaikanal and Mahabalipuram! Don’t forget to subscribe via Bloglovin’ (on the right sidebar) so you can see the most recent posts as they go live!