I’ve been in India less than 24 hours, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been taken advantage of already. I just dropped $400 CAD on clothes! However, the experience was priceless in and of itself. I asked my taxi driver (after an unsuccessful attempt to register at the Canadian consulate – it was closed) to take me to a VERY expensive clothing shop, so the place he suggested as more reasonably priced alternative was pretty much exactly what I was aiming for. Paanderi Anderi in the Western Suburb area is a famous clothing house throughout India, I later learned.
As a customer, you are escorted to sit in front of one of the white fabric covered counters situated around the edges of the large open showroom on the second floor. The entire wall space is devoted to shelves neatly stacked to bursting with individually wrapped clothing pieces- whether they be trousers, leggings, long or short-sleeved kurta tunics, traditional salwar kamez sets (leggings, dress and scarf), sari sets, or dresses. After being served with a bottle of water and cup of masala chai, I was presented with piece after piece slipped from its wrapping and laid in front of me in profusion, the “try on” pile rising exponentially. Trying on piece after piece with the clerk/tailor taking a look and suggesting alterations to the one-size items, for tailoring is included in the price of the clothes. I whittled the pile down to an affordable level and took more with me than leaving behind to be tailored. I now had clothes to wear in India, since I hadn’t packed anything more than what I wore on the plane and one change with me! I am bringing home more clothes than I would have got for the same amount shopping in Vancouver, and they’re all unique and beautiful, so I am completely excited to wear them all!.
Mumbai is a big crowded place (duh) and I’ve barely seen any of it, but once the afternoon heat took hold and I witnessed one of those “classic” traffic based altercations I found I had had enough for the day and declined to go see Girgaon Chaupati beach- I have been traveling for about 36 hours already, and have more to go. I’m writing from the calm of an airport cafe and am looking forward to a nap in the gate area. I have definitely experienced the Indian Stare already from both men and women. And why wouldn’t they? Whites are definitely an oddity around here. Outside of the airport, I saw a total of two Caucasians (renting scooters). As a woman traveling alone, they must think I have some nerve. They’re correct.
The honking that everyone does is mostly a “Heya, I’m here- don’t hit me!” message, until it’s a “Get the fuck out the way!” one. Duration of the honk is what distinguishes the one from the other.
My taxi driver may have hit on me, but not in an awful way- he was probably just trying his luck- or he may have genuinely thought might appreciate a shower and nap in a bed at a “small hotel”, and his cousin or friend or whomever would probably have appreciated the rupees. Either way, I wasn’t interested and said “No” firmly twice, and that was the end of that. Even so, I can’t wait to arrive and get to my hotel in Delhi so I can have a SHOWER. I am officially gross as I haven’t bathed except with baby wipes for 2 days- EW!
Late entry: a) Mumbai airport is crawling with soldiers carrying large semi-automatic guns. It is kind of unnerving. b) Mumbai airport is the most beautiful airport I have ever seen in all my travels, but like all airports these days they separate each seat in the waiting area with armrests, and pipes musak everywhere just a touch too loud for anyone to be able to nap, even with earplugs in. I woke up only an hour before landing in Mumbai this morning, but that was 12 hours ago and I only got 6 hours on the plane between my London to Mumbai leg- in other words, I wanted to kill myself listening to that musak instead of napping. Pure torture. Maybe that hotel room wasn’t such a bad idea after all. c) Thus far, I have tried vada (a savoury deep fried donut of lentil flour) dipped in dahl (stewed lentil), and coconut chutney for lunch. Yummy!