Here are some pictures from my first two days in Bombay along with some commentary. There are tons more that I’ll share soon. Let me know what you think.
- One of the first things that many of us noticed is the physical affection men show for one another publicly and openly, though non-sexually. Hand holding is a common and accepted form of affection amongst people of all ages and men and women. This is consistent with India’s reputation of tolerance.
- Unlike in the States where we are encouraged to recycle our plastic bottles, in India we are told to crush them. It’s not about space but rather preventing people from grabbing the bottle and refilling it with India’s bacteria-laden water, famous for causing traveler’s diarrhea, and reselling it. Water is also remarkable cheap; yesterday I bought a big bottle of Aquafina for 13 rupees, which is the equivalent of about $0.30.
- I’ve taken to walking close by my professor Sunil as he shares with me the best information that I couldn’t necessarily learn myself. For example, we walked through what many of us were calling the “Home Depot” market yesterday where there were marble and sink fixture stores. This quickly evolved into a car junkyard and then antique furniture shops. Sunil explained to me that in India nothing goes to waste so these merchants take the car apart down to the small pieces of the engine in attempts to make money.
- When you’re given the chance to play India’s favorite past time, cricket, with some kids in the street take it. I hit a few balls (pretty well actually) with my classmate Scott and drew a large crowd of older men. I’m not sure if it was the random white people playing or the fact that I was a woman. The kids got a huge kick out of it.
- Refreshingly, we have seen very few signs of other tourists during the last few days. When we walk through the markets we are as much a sight to see as the people are to us. In fact, my classmate Susan and I were asked to join many photos today at the mosque. This photo is one rare sign of the States – Ron posing with a little bit of Texas on a parked SUV.
- Traffic is absolutely insane. If it weren’t for good karma or the miraculous skills of these taxi drivers (that we only pay maybe $1.50 for a 20 minute ride) we would have been in dozens of accidents by now – that’s probably 5 per trip. Though you can’t read it in this thumbnail, I found this sign in the top right corner very amusing: “Think about kids & wife. Care your life.”
- Poor little kids are put to work at a very early age. It’s the saddest thing (and equally sad how cute they are) that I’ve seen thus far. Though I knew I shouldn’t, I gave this one little girl 10 rupees this evening so I could take a few pictures of her. This is her putting it down her shirt. She couldn’t be more than 2 years old. It’s clear that these kids are taught the song and pony dance very early and do it extremely well.
- Can you imagine paying someone to do your laundry and then finding out the person is going to stand in the water, then swing the clothes against a rock wall to rinse them out and finally hang them in the sun amidst the pollution of the city streets to dry? This is not uncommon in the laundry district where people pay about 2 rupees per item (so about 20 clothes items for $1). It’s filthy in every way.