Tuesday, July 1, 2014

India (4) Arrive in Mumbai

One almost never feels a flight if you have (good!) company! Before we knew it, there was announcement that we were about to begin our descent. As we were about to land, we were greeted by the flickering lights of Mumbai's skyline by night. Excitement started to kick in as our adventure was about to begin.

The first thing I remember was that the air was thick and hot. Passport control and baggage claim was a breeze! 

Travel buddies!
I had the most pleasant surprise when my phone rang (my aunt kindly lent us her Indian sim card) and was greeted by our tour operator, Shamsher.

"Welcome to India!" he said. I remember it was just after midnight and I couldn't fathom that he was still awake, but wanted to be in touch until we made contact with our driver, Santosh who was waiting for us outside. 

After changing some forex, we met Santosh and off we went. He was polite and friendly, answering random questions we had.

Believe it or not, my first experience with Indian drivers was in the airport parking lot. It was busy and drivers seemed to seldom use their brakes, so even crossing from one end to the other was a bit of a hair-raising experience.

I thought I'd find a 24-hr convenience store where I could buy some airtime and data. It was only later that I realized that I should have said, "I need recharge / talk time" :)

The drive to the hotel was fairly uneventful, but the route reminded me a bit of Bangkok. We saw what we would liken to shanty towns on either side of the road and people sleeping alongside stray dogs on the island. In fact, we saw a few people sleeping outside what I assume was their home. At the back of my mind, I remember thinking: "I hope it's just safe enough that because these people are SO hot, they prefer sleeping outside!"

Next stop: ITC Grand Central.

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