Buffalo in Benares
Part 13

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Bombay is, to be modest, a wild and sometimes crazy city where the traffic is both so rapid and congested that any attempt to drive around there would be, from my point of view, quite futile. After our 36 hour train ride to the city we were transported around for hours by a taxi driver who was persistently trying to find us accommodation within feasible proximity of the international airport. Without succeeding and finally leaving that part of the city behind, we ended up in a middle class hotel near the center boasting a huge staff comprised of countless bell boys and personnel of all kinds. However - and much to our dismay - the very minute we had checked in we were forced to throw ourselves back into the taxi to chase head over heals in search of a bank where we could exchange travelers checks.

 Bell boy by the elevator hoping for a generous  tip.

During this last part of our journey our location happened to be right in the midst of a muslim dominated area of Bombay and apparently in close proximity of a mosque. This meant we had more than excellent Islamic restaurants in the neighborhood serving the most exquisite food one could ever imagine. After Tamil nadu where we exclusively kept to a vegetarian diet, I found it hard to resist these treats of tandoori dishes and all that went with them.

My poor wife with an upset stomach gazing sadly towards my papaya lassi and longing to get back home so she can recover and get back in shape.

Maybe this was called "Toast surprise" for what I know! Chips on top of toast, now that is definitely a treat and so typically Indian in its absurdly whimsical but yet so innovative imitation of western culture!

Shimmering golden and silvery nuances inside a yet another jain temple of Bombay.

Woman selling religious merchandise of all kinds  in the vicinity of a very busy Jain temple. Common articles are festoons, garlands and wreathes of flowers but also various kinds of Indian sweets, nuts and cakes.

After eight long  weeks of being on the road a few "funny faces" inevitably  had to come out, here featuring "The Indian bureaucrat" with that inherited British stiff upper lip and then  a "strange set of looks" implying: Gee it's gonna be great to get back home....Or is it? Because after all, when sum- ming it all up, this trip certainly had its ups and downs although for the most of it we did feel the myth and the magic of being there in our beloved INDIA!

At the very last moment and after having been guided by some street boys the last few blocks to our destination, we managed to save ourselves from having to beg our way around Bombay on this, the very last leg of our journey. Never had we expected a major city like this to close all its exchange services right on the hour of 6 PM on a Friday night lasting all through the remaining weekend! Neither had we prepared ourselves for the crazy ride we had to endure on the following day with a taxi driver who took us to just about every other place than where we had been expecting to go! But all the same, looking back in hind sight, it was after all a bit of a laugh all that confusion and commotion we went through on those last few days of our stay.

Working on our guilty conscience for several hours while showing us around,  these young hoodlums almost succeeded in getting us on a ride to some remote suburban area where we were supposed to purchase a shoe shining box for them to share. Finding this a bit risky, we chose instead to pay for their meals, drinks and taxi rides where ever we went and at the end, right before we broke up, we paid them a rather large sum each and made our escape.

Outside our hotel restaurant, next to the parking lot, they kept tame geese in a pond while there were also a sad Ara and an equally sad grey Jacko parrot chained inside cages which were far too small for them. The restaurant, which incidentally served a really classy muslim cuisine, was divided into two different sections, one with an open air atmosphere where all the male visitors constantly kept huffing and puffing on their hookahs and the other one situated in doors with the AC turned on so intensely that even an Inuit from Greenland would have been begging for mercy! Strange as it may appear, but for the upper class Indians the motto always seems to be: "Regardless of the weather or time of year, the colder the better!"


Bell boy by the main entrance letting the hono- ured guests inside while keeping the "riff-raff" on the outside. During our brief stay at this hotel we were treated as if we were the King and Queen of Sweden or almost!

One of many catering companies serving one of what seemed to be an endless number of weddings in Bombay. In parts of the city center big festivities take place right in the middle of the street. Everyone is dancing and partying around to music performed by what appears to be some sort of military jazz band counting in drums, brass and woodwinds, while the musicians themselves are sometimes dressed in a similar attire as that which the Beatles wore on the Sgt Pepper sleeve back in 1967.

   Click on the NOTES to listen to a street orchestra!

View from our hotel window across a typical shanty town to some newly erected skyscrapers in the background. As everywhere, crows fill up the sky with their fluttering wings and croaky conver- sation while the traffic grinds on down in the streets below.

In front of Taj Mahal
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