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Monday 6th December - Mumbai (Bombay)
By Claire
Tuesday, 7th December 2004 10:47

We arrived in Mumbai at about 7am and we were grabbed by a taxi driver. We ignored him and carried on walking but we missed the exit and had to turn back. We were unable to escape from the driver so he took us to the hotel we'd planned. We arrived there before 8am and they wanted to charge us for two nights because we were checking in before midday. We left and found another slightly grotty place round the corner that was happy to have us and cost half the price. We slept for a couple of hours and had showers before going out to find some lunch.

We took another taxi out to a shopping centre with a Subway shop and had some very nice (but beefless) sandwiches. Some of the girls here were wearing jeans and the boys were in t-shirts, something we haven't seen in India at all so far. The shops (including Marks and Spencer) were all expensive western style ones. Then we went out to the cinema.

They were only showing films in Hindi, though, and while understanding the language is not vital for a Bollywood film, we didn't fancy it. We bought a local paper with cinema listings in it and chose one that sounded like it might be near by (we had no idea) and was showing one of three English-language films. Shark Tale was only on in the mornings and I can't stand Rene Zellweger so Bridget Jones was out, and the only remaining one was Vanity Fair which isn't normally my sort of thing, but these are desperate times. We got a taxi to the cinema, bought our tickets in advance and had a little wander round the area of Colaba.

The only notable thing about Bombay is the lack of auto-rickshaws. Oh, and that most of the buildings look reasonably colonial and that there are as many churches, or things that look like churches, as mosques on the horizon. And a few proper shops and shopping centres. And that Parsis leave dead bodies out here to be eaten by vultures, but we didn't see any and it's not the sort of thing you can ask directions for. Other than that, it's like any Indian city we've seen, full of persistent beggars who grab you when you ignore them, loads of street stalls selling souvenirs from all over the country and whose stall-holders constantly try to get your attention, and men selling drums. There's also the inevitable very slow internet connections, and we spent a bit of time catching up on email before the film.

I really enjoyed Vanity Fair and despite the fact that it's filmed in Bath, we've been to its other locations much more recently. Jodhpur played the part of Bombay, which is slightly ironic. I think. Then we came home and watched something about square bubbles and new web browsers. We know how to have fun.

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