Before talking about our first day in Mumbai, the two Zachs would like to give a special shout out to their fathers who both recently celebrated birthdays. After a quick and painless flight out of the smallest airport any of us had ever seen, aboard a propeller plane(we didn’t know they still allowed to fly those commercial), we landed in Mumbai. Everyone’s first impressions were vastly different than they were when we landed in Delhi. Right away we could tell that Mumbai was a much more built up, westernized city. The group enjoyed some of the local cuisine (Domino’s) for lunch aboard our bus as we drove through the city. Tall skyscrapers filled the skyline but looking a bit lower we could see many slums packed with people as is common in India. Along the way we stopped to see a large outdoor laundry facility where many local people have their laundry done. As far as the eyes could see different shades of every color for every article of clothing  were hanging from rooftops, laundry lines, and any other sort of drying system the locals could come up with. It was amazing how many clothes we saw hanging from lines attached to the buildings, a much different system than we are familiar with in the U.S. but organized and efficient nonetheless. We hopped back in the bus and continued our drive through the city. Not far from this simple outdoor laundry facility we saw the most expensive home in the world, highlighting just how little separation of classes there is in India. It was a modest 27-story home, with the first 7 floors devoted only to cars. Complete with three helipads, it houses a family of 4 and is valued at around 2 billion dollars.

On the way to the next stop during our city tour of Mumbai we were informed of interesting facts about the city that make you think about how big of an impact Great Britain had. Originally the city was named Bombay which in translation means “great bay,” but the city was renamed Mumbai because locals did not like how the city was named by people that did not live there. Mumbai is on the water and before all of the big business started to happen it was for the most part a fishing town. The goddess of the fishing community is Mumbai, the legend goes that one day when she becomes enraged she will drown the city with the waters from the Arabian sea.  Other facts for which we found interesting was that when the country first gained independence its population was 340 million, while currently the population is around 1.2 billion people, and 18 million live in Mumbai. The country gets 75% of its income money from the city of Mumbai alone, as well is home to many of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the country.

Our next stop was the Prince of Wales Museum, where we saw an array of exhibits, from art to historical artifacts as well as animals that had been stuffed and preserved. Our quick visit to the museum was followed by a trip to the Gateway of India, a beautiful arc structure, similar in nature to the India Gate we saw in Delhi, but with a different purpose. It was built to commemorate the landing of King George V and the queen in India. In large letters in the middle of the gate is enscribed, “Errected to commemorate the landing in India of their imperial majesties King George V and Queen Mary on the second of December MCMXI.” After a quick group picture, and the consequent price negotiations with the hawkers taking the pictures, we finally headed for the hotel.

After settling into our rooms, many of us headed for the markets. Our fine-tuned bargaining skills came in handy, as we negotiated for shoes, jerseys, glasses, and fake watches for ourselves…and of course gifts for our wonderful families at home. After the markets we enjoyed dinner at a great seafood restaurant called Trishna along with a couple of the local beers, for culture of course. The first day in Mumbai was busy, but we definitely started off on the right foot. Please see the bottom of this post for some pictures from the day.

Zach Guarino and Zach Feldman

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