(Before I start, I would like to apologize for any bad grammar, as I am on a Mac but usually use a PC!;)
NOTE: I have got photos of everything (literally, knowing me ;) I write about here that I will download hopefully tomorrow and post here :)
I am now in Mumbai, India! After day 1, it is only just sinking in that I am really here!
Heres the deal:
Me and David left Geneva Friday morning, heading towards Mumbai. BUT we had 2 plane stops to make, one including switching planes! Our plane was left late, which was a little worrying as our plane change at Kuwait was very tight, leaving us only 45mins to switch plane.
The plane was absolutely MASSIVE! I had a window seat, luckily, as I looove looking out! We had TVs on the back of the chairs in front of us BUT at first mine wouldnt turn on, and Davids worked perfectly but after a while mine turned in but wouldnt change channel and wouldnt turn off and David stopped working completely! LOL! Oh well, just means more time to enjoy reading my book and to sleep!...
BUT what we didnt know is that the plane also stopped at Frankfort, Germany to refuel and pick up more people. It stayed there around 30mins! When we finally arrived at Kuwait, we had to run to chatch out next plane to take us to Mumbai! Luckily, we went the only ones (4 others) and a man with a kind of golf car thing speed us to our gate to board (it was so fun! :D)
Then, we finally boarded the plane, and hoped that the next one would have working TVs ;) ... but no such luck!
As we flew over Bombay, I swear I thought we were going over 6 major cities (it was dark by now, as all I could see was a swad of lights) and kept saying, wait, is this STILL Bombay... it is ridiculously HUGE, absolutely colossal!!! As we got lower, i made out roads, stretching off into the horizon, the cars, formed out of their front lights, packed ludicrously close together going back ALL the way of the road!
In total we spend more than 13H on the planes!!!!!! We were very grateful to stretch our legs afterwards!!! ;) We got to Mumbai at 1:15AM (suisse time), being 5:45AM Mumbai time. As I came out of the airport, the heat and humidity hit me hard! And also the SMELLS of India are SOOO different, inside, its kindof like being transported back to the 80s, as most of their furniture is from then. Outside, at first I almost had to block my nose! One word: pollution!
A shover picked us up to go to the Hotel.
As we arrived at The Leela Kepinski 5* hotel (which was only 10mins from the airport) I was dumbsmaked! The entrance is all marble, there fountains, live music, shops, a spa, a gym, etc, etc.... Let me explain: we didnt pick this hotel out of the blue! Davids dad is a Hotelier and owns/manages it, and very kindly invited us to stay. I was quite anxious about this, as I was told that the stark juxtaposition between povety and the rich. As I am typing this in a luxurious air conditioned room, after all Iv seen today (read below) I cant help but feel guilt as I am cosy, safe, and clean, having just gratefully taken a beautiful shower with clean, running water whilst I saw in town others living in the slums, literally covered in filth, no clean water, no air conditioning.... it fills me with pain as my nature is to always want to help people.
First thing we did when we got to the hotel was SLEEP! We though we were just going to take a 1H nap, as we slept on the plane, but we ended up being wiped out for a full 5H! Good, we felt good after that! :)
We then made arrangements to meet Davids dad and his dads girlfriend downstairs for Lunch (although my body clock was fixed for breakfast!). I got a bit nervous about meeting Davids dad actually, I don-t know why, I just wanted to make a good impression. I suppose I just though he would think I am bonkers for eating only raw food!
We got downstairs, me with some raw cookies I had brought for them and went to the outside restaurant place. OMG let me tell you, it was just beautiful the way they had made outside... fountains with lilies, a plant wall (I loved this!), it just seemed paradisal! But I knew, from looking out of my our room window, that it only looked like this at this 5* hotel, like they had constructed an idyllic Garden of Eden to suit the Westerners stereotypical image of India! As from our window, the view presented me with quite a different story! The street we packed with cars, taxis and these 3 wheeled rickshaws, all amongst numerous people weaving themselves around the moving vehicles to get to the other side, no structured 'zebra crossings' here! Dust rose and permanently elevated from the ground, filling the small spaces between rough run down buildings towering ubiquitously.
So sitting outside with Davids dad and Dongmey (his dads girlfriend), my confidence rose from the warm welcome they gave to me. they asked me what I wanted for breakfast, pointing out and complimenting a meat based dish on the menu. After saying I was vegan, they grinned at each other and then commented "well, your in the perfect place!" refering to the fact that a large percentage of inhabitants are vegetarian and there are plenty of vegan options. However, when I pointed out that i ate no cooked food, there faced dropped a little! But they were very interested, asking genuinely curious questions, and David chipped in saying how good he felt on the 3 week juice feast we did! :)
I choose to eat (well, it was the only thing on the menu I wanted to eat ;) a fresh fruit platter (making sure to ask for it sans sauce), and when they asked me what to drink, I asked if they had any fresh coconut water, and to my utter delight they said 'Of corse!!!' When the fruit platter come, I was sooo happy!!! It wasn't just made up of squared apples and pears in a bowl, there was a big triangle cut of papaya, half-flowered shaped watermelon and melon, fresh figs and pineapple, all presented beautifully on a plate!!! YUM! I also continued to gratefully drink 3 more glasses of coconut water! :)))))
After a lovely lunch, David arranged for his friend, Mansi, to come meet us at the hotel. We went upstairs to get ready to go out, and then went downstairs to explore the shops below!... Encountered another culture shock, as the owners of the different shops all were asking us "how about this, would you like to come and see this, im sure you need this.... ect". But what I have noticed is that everyone I have encountered here are such nice and smiley people! We then went outside again, as it is cooler (and really quite cool, i might add!) inside and much warmer outside! I took plenty of pics ;)
When Mansi came, she hugged me so warmly that I liked her immediately.. she truly is such a nice person!!!
As we were walking to take a Rickshaw, on the 'pavement' were holes which revealed mounds of sewage... but you didn't just have to look, the smell was strong enough.... As soon as we exited the hotel gates, I stared seeing dogs EVERYwhere, most of them thin and unowned. :( While walking on the pavement, my heart and throat tightened as I had to walk around an injured dog, lying on the pavement. I was starting to get overwhelmed. I had tears start in my eyes as I saw the glimpse of a motionless skinny dog underneath a parked car. I looked behind us, the traffic pouring past, with a fury of beeps, noise and dust. We had to wait for a rickshaw and as we were waiting a bunch of beautiful young children ran up to us. It was a heart warming and a heart breaking experience at the same time. I suddenly regretted taking my camera out (probably a sign of wealth in their eyes, I especially dont want to look like a rich tourist, that I certainly am not). But these children, their faces lighted with their grinning smiles showing their gapped, yellow and missing teeth, warmed my heart with their grin. They pointed to my camera, I asked if they would like me to take a picture of them and pointe the camera to them. They all joyfully leaped together to all be in the picture, widening their smiles on their faces. I show them the picture of them and they laugh hysterically, asking me to take another one. Their mother comes along, and I get her in the picture, too. A smile appeared on her face as I showed it to her. Then, a Auto Rickshaw appeared, and I said goodbye, wishing I could give something to these children begging for something to eat, but not knowing what to do.
The experience of riding in a Rickshaw was something in itself! Gripping onto David as it awkwardly sped out towards the heard of cars in-front. For the fist few minutes on my first ride to town, I was so scared I might fall out, I wriggled myself closer to the middle of the seat. But after a while, I forgot about this doorless car as my attention was driven to focus on the mass of pollution filling my lungs as we drove packed like a shawl of fish close up to the other cars, taxis and trucks. I also felt a little self conscious at first, as I felt everyone who saw me was staring at me, but I began smiling and waving at them and they smiled and waved back! :) But I was very excited when I saw tons of market stalls with fresh fruit around!! :D
It took around 1H to get to the part of town we wanted, and along the way I was in utter AWE, literally speechless most of the journey as I absorbed through my eyes a whole different world, culture and environment. Perhaps I shouldn't be, but my heart wretched as we drove past the slums, spreading over a vast amount of space, but over-towered by high rise buildings. We passed a MASSIVE plastic bottle mound, exposed just on the side of the road. This is what I find so shocking about Mumbai: nothing is hidden, everything is exposed. First, we visited a bookshop, as David was on a mission to find some certain books. The PRICES were absurdly LOW... minimally half price, if not MORE... most were 5CH (around 5dollars) or under... I was tempted to get a whole load but restrained myself and told myself to be patient. Instead, I just got what a needed: a notebook for study notes which cost 160Rupees which is around under 1CH.
We then met up with Munsi's friend, Puja, a really lovely and kind lady. We then went to A JUICE BARRR!!!!! I was SOOO excited! They had ORGANIC wheatgrass shots! I had a fresh fruit salad, with a shot of wheatgrass (accompanied with a piece of pineapple) and a wheatgrass-orange-pineapple juice.. YUM!!! I was so buzzing with happyness! :D
The others had various other juices on the menu anddd.. a chicken wrap :/
We all started talking about raw food, I explained why I am began and dont eat cooked food and we also talked about our juice feast and they were REALLY REALLY interested and said they wanted to start a juice feast NOW! ;) Plus, when I told them I could make raw cakes, raw cookies, raw 'cheeze' ect ect wich had no dairy, no sugar no refined foods....their mouths DROPED TO THE FLOOR! David mentioned how eating a raw food diet can elevate the symptoms of may 'incurable' diseases such as diabetes, Puja was VERY excited, as her had suffers from type 2 diabetes and said she was going to tell him to eat raw food and juices :D
At dinner we stayed in town and I was SOOO DELIGHTED in the presence of these people that I was not timid AT ALL about asking for raw food at the restaurant... and I was thrilled to see on the menu ' Fresh Juices' and 'Fresh seasonal fruit platter' they all helped me, and all waiters were very accommodating... I ate a yummy lettuce, baby tomato and bell pepper salad, with a fresh melon juice.
We then went to another outside 'restaurant' as they wanted to try some Indian food, but at this place they had NOTHING for me to eat, and I regretted I did not also eat a fruit platter at the pther restaurant, but i didnt really mind...BUT I asked for lime water and as they gave it to me, I had a suspisious feeling about it, which was justified when i took a tiny sip... It was SUPER sweet... ERG... SUGAR! I asked if they had put sugar in it and they nodded enthusiastically as if it were a good thing... Mansi kindly asked if I could have one withOUT sugar, and a sudden quizzical expression took over the waiters face.. 'no sugar?' :)
Eeek, its getting really late here, so I am going to quickly wrap up the day... Very sadly, as we we (they;) were eating, Mansi go the news via a telephone call that her 'Guru' dance teacher had died :( She went out to make a couple calls, and came back in tears :( We went back after that, also because it was getting lateish and I wanted to attempt to do some studying when we got back. But we got back around 10PM, I was exhausted, I had a shower (I felt dirty from all the pollution) and decided to update my blog as a releasing and relaxing exercise! :)))
But must go to bed now, as we are planning to get up EARLY so as I can do a few hours study before we zoom off to town!
Have a life-changing day! - I know I did,
interest in raw food