Monday, March 5, 2012

Down to Mumbai

Jan 12th

The hotel has arranged our rail tickets from New Delhi to Mumbai Central and we have arranged to leave the bags here while we go out for the day and return to catch the 2050 train.

Large hole appear where the new Metro is going to run.

Janpath Market on the south of Connaught Place

Spent the day wandering around Connaught Place. Had lunch in the Indian version of McDonalds.  There are real McDonalds here which we avoided like the plague. The restaurant Harimands do a very tasty and inexpensive meal. I try  out a couple of new dishes.

At 1800 we return to Kwality to pick up our bags. At this point we find  the train for Mumbai  actually leaves from Nizanudin station which is half an hour away by taxi. Damn. Not only that but the Mumbai end goes to Bantra Station and arrives there at 1850.

The carriage is a four berth bunks then a narrow walk way along the train and two more bunks on the outside.  Not the lap of luxury I am used too but we slept most of the night but fitfully. When was the last time you spent the night on a train.

Jan 13th    

First thing the next morning the countryside around us was like sand dunes but covered in parched short grass. Spotted camels walking about and the goat and cattle herders were out early.

Kite flying festival coming up so children everywhere out with theirs.

Bits of geology to see every so often

Some people can sleep anywhere

More kites

Locals rearing to go as the train passes

Now and again we would go through a village or town.  Always a slum was in sight with kids around.  Many were flying kites and we later found out that it was a kite flying festival coming up.  If they weren’t flying kites they were playing cricket.

One place seems to be dedicated to the recycling of plastics. Every where you look there is rubbish with piles of plastic that looked as though by the time you get to the end of the town it is all bundled up and stacked in someones yard.

There is a lot of  major works going on which is noticed at every river crossing of which there are many. Not sure what it is but in Mumbai they are putting in a monorail through the middle of the city it could be an extension I suppose as I don’t know exactly where we are.

 At the neck to the Mumbai peninsula the river meanders all over the place and boats can be seen in various states of repair and sunkenness.  Some of the ‘canoes’ are made from a single tree trunk as they have been for millennia.

The express trains are enormous.  We are half a dozen or so coaches from the end and at the large swinging bends the engine can be seen way ahead of us.

In amongst the plains a few rounded hills turn up.  Wish I could get up there to have a look at them.  They look  volcanic and in places the rock is very blocky and black.

Many different sorts of countryside and differing glimpses of village/towns as we speed through.

Arrival in Mumbai.

A very long station and we get up onto the bridge which we think might be an exit.  No reception committee yet.  Looking down from the bridge and the dual carriageway is well used. Umpteen black tuk tuks and taxis are below us and we decide to stay up here safe from the hassle of  a ‘take my taxi’ from each driver.

 Traffic working quite well then as work needs to be done a steel sheet is pulled across the road and cars just swap lanes.

There is work going on on the roadside and suddenly a sheet of metal is pulled out and tied to a lamp post.  No signs but the traffic just changes sides and the oncoming traffic gets out of the way. Not that it doesn’t end up with traffic going in both directions overtaking in the midst of the oncoming traffic.

Mind its not always so tidy on the road.

We ring Vivek and he describes the scene that is in front of him on Platform 1.  We describe the scene that is in front of us on Platform 1.  As he describes the train that is pulling out of the station in front of him we realise he is at a different station. Happily it is the local part of the same station at Bandra so he is soon with us. Off to his home and a decent cup of tea.

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