The hostel I’d booked into was up past the Airport – so I can say I’ve done that now – braved the rigours and dangers of Mumbai crazy traffic with Rowenna.
The hostel was managed by a Sikh family – Raji and Ramona were great and usually one or the other was on duty. The hostel was also right next door to a Sikh temple that I managed to visit before I left. Sikh men are easily spotted by their turbans – and I liked that their temples (or Gurudwar) are considered community centres or sanctuaries where all are welcome, regardless of caste or denomination or sex – all are equal, and can be sure of a meal or shelter. There are no idols, no representations of gods on display, no icons – instead the Holy Book , or ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ is placed under a rich canopy and bowed down to as a mark of respect. At the end of the puja, Hanan and I were given a warm sweet mix that had been blessed as an offering from God. (Hanan is a Brit from Luton I met in the hostel, who can speak 6 languages and is now learning Hindi during her time in India).
I also met a German guy called Martin, who is a bassoonist and music teacher on a sabbatical with plans to compose music inspired by his travels. I love hostels for their potential for meeting other travellers – far more sociable than hotels.
The first couple of days in this hostel, I sneezed over books – finishing the Jonathan Kellerton book I’d borrowed from Miranda and Kevin’s apartment (convoluted detective nonsense) then reading a John Grisham novel from the hostel book shelf. When I’d recovered from the head cold, I trawled up and down the road in the shadow beneath the relatively new elevated Mumbai Metro, looking for a camera and also some shock cords, or bungee ropes, or twangees or whatever you call them – to replace the ones I’d thrown away at Dubai airport. I finally found some in a motorbike supply shop. I miscalculated the exchange rates slightly and overspent – so had to scrounge some extra off Steve, bless him. Must be more frugal.
Met up with Miranda for one last outing around town – we visited the Mahakali caves – smaller than the ones we’ve visited previously – but right in the middle of the city with a great view over Andheri. A little peaceful oasis. We also climbed to the top of Gilbert Hill, which is a ‘monolith column of basalt rock’ jutting out of the city – with buildings right up to the foot of it. There’s a Hindu temple on top, with the ever present Kites (birds of prey – though we saw some kids flying the paper sort too from on top) wheeling very close to us. Stupendous views over sprawling slumlands built on top of landfill.
I was nearly a Bollywood extra! A bloke came to the hostel looking for volunteers and a couple of us jumped at the chance. However – even as we were in the taxi on our way, the filming was cancelled because the main actor was ill – My acting career dashed before it had a chance to flower.
One of the last things I did in Mumbai was to go to the standard cinema and watch an implausible and silly horror movie called ‘Shut In’. It was the last showing of the night and the cinema was nearly empty – just a half dozen youngsters in the back row – and me. I sat with my feet up on the seat in front of me and didn’t even have my knitting with me.
A newly retired Terri following her heart into a world of woolly creativity. Live the dream