After Goa, Rachel and I headed to Mumbai, the city which will be my home for 4 months starting in February. Reaching in the early morning at the usually crowded CST train station, we were greeted by taxiwalas wanting us to take their cab and views of the glass with bullet holes in it from the terrorist attack only a few weeks before. We then headed to my friend Raj's house (where we would be staying). Once there and greeted by Raj we had some tea, coffee and chapatis and a shower, we went to see Raj's office at Idea Domain. This is one of the sites I will be working at in Mumbai. After that it was off to Bandra (the cool suburb- think Brooklyn- not actually a suburb) of Mumbai to be trendy and get lunch. After walking around, eating and doing some show shopping, we met up with my friend Priya's brother, Dhruv. He showed us around Bandra, took us to see the Bollywood actor Shahruh Khan's house, and to the beach front where the cool college kids hang out. After that it was off to a Magnet (a wall mart-like Indian store) where you can get everything you need to do some shopping for a party Raj was having that night. Magnet was fascinating but not bigger then a "normal" American supermarket, it is apparently also on illegal land that is suppose to be used for a mill not a store so it is there illegally.
After Raj's party that night and a trip around the touristy parts of Mumbai, a Lonely Planet walking tour of the interesting old buildings, a view of the Taj Mahal Hotel and its current reconstruction post terror attacks, and a visit to the best bakery in Mumbai, we hoped a train to Jaipur for the Rajasthan leg of our journey.
What struck me about Mumbai was how nice people where, and helpful, they were thankful that Rachel and I were in the city and touring around (despite the terrorist acts), and were eager to show their resilience and unity in the face of such acts. There were many signs on billboards and bumper stickers on cars with statements of a unified Mumbai against acts of terror, very reminiscent of similar signs after 9/11 in NYC. In general Mumbai is an easier city to get around then Delhi, there are nice sidewalks and less staring and eve teasing by men. Also women tend to dress less conservatively (which is good because it is going to be so hot there in April and May, and I want to be able to wear some skirts that end at the knee and not the ankle.
Now Rachel and I have met up with the Fulbright group. We have toured Jaipur and are now in Jodhpur, the beautiful and friendly blue city. But more on that later...