Travels with V
India: Mumbai & Goa
A boat ride and a glorious evening
Mumbai part two
Next morning and still no luggage. No we’re getting nervous, since we’re leaving Mumbai the day after. But both the airline company and the hotel staff ensure us that we will see our bags that very same afternoon. So we hop on a boat and ride out to Elephanta Island, where there are some spectacular cave temples.
Gliding out through the harbour of Mumbai is excellent, passing large tankers and and a big oil and gas terminal, and finally arriving at the green Elephanta. A small train takes visitors along the long jetty on to the island shore, but most of those visitors are Indian, and you don’t mess with them when it comes to queueing. So we proceed on foot.
We stroll among a path lined with shacks selling tourist crap, sugar cane juice made by diesel fueled machines, cows and dogs and monkeys, always on the lookout for something to eat.
The main cave on Elephanta is the most spectacular one, with fantastic reliefs carved out of the stone walls wherever you look. Almost all depict the god Shiva, the creator, but also the destroyer, both man and woman, highest in rank of all the thousands of Hindu gods.
Most of the reliefs are damaged, When Portuguese soldiers were stationed here they fired guns into the cave. But the beauty of them can’t be destroyed.
In a smaller cave nearby five young boys dance wildly to Hindi disco blasting out from a bluetooth speaker. Selfieterrorists are everywhere bouncing into people as they try to find the right angle. Monkeys steal or are given food by families with picnic baskets. Painfully cute puppies also stumble around begging for a snack.
We also see, for the first time, the black kite, big brown birds of prey always circling above places where they can expect humans to throw away something eatable. One of the kites have a chick in a tree right next to a terrace where we eat our lunch.
We return to the hotel in the afternoon, and of course there’s still no luggage. A message says that it will “maybe be delivered late in the evening”. Now we’re really angry, we shout threats at the airline man, and V even lies: – My husband is ill and needs medicines that are in his luggage! The man just hums something, uninterested.
But later that night we finally rendez-vous with our backpacks. We almost cry of relief, and struggle to find words of praise for our hotel staff that have worked so hard to make it happen. We run around the corner to celebrate at Effingut Brewery, a real hipster pub serving some delicious ipa.
A good night’s sleep and we’re off again to the airport for our transport south. Yes, we know we shouldn’t fly so much, but you see, India is in some ways a dead end. Bying train tickets over Internet is not just impossible, it’s a fraud. You have to pay a company called ITCTR to register for a ticket purchase, but you never get any tickets. You complain and they send computer-generated mails saying we’ll look into it, but they never do.
Booking flight tickets, on the other hand, is no problem at all.