The sleeper train was pleasant. I was in 3AC, which means each air-conditioned cabin wall had three bunks layered on top of each other. It also had the benefit of assigned seating. I didn’t experience “sleeper” on this trip, but it is allegedly a mad egalitarian free-for-all where the bunks are not air-conditioned. There are obviously grades above my class, but 3AC was perfectly sufficient. I should also note that I had fabulous cabin mates. This was a very different train experience.

Our train arrived ON-TIME at 5:30am. Raj, the owner of the guest-house where I am staying, was waiting for me outside the station. Man, this was much smoother than many experiences I have had. However, don’t get the wrong impression, India personifies chaos and its infrastructure is an absolute disaster. It is substantially worse than anything in South America and the poor bits remind me of Laos. Horendous. I might write some type of India prospectus later, but more likely, I will save my thoughts for conversation. Anyways, right after meeting Raj, he suggestively said that “today is an important day for his sect of Hinduism.” He explained that he had to go to a temple before sunrise in order to pay respects to his favorite god, Ganesha, who happens to be an elephant. Anyways, he wanted me to give him permission to do this on the way home. I one-upped him and asked if I could accompany him into the temple. He loved the idea and I therefore started my sightseeing before the sun rose. After, in accordance with the Indian ethos, he suggestively said that there is a nice breakfast place by the temple. I wasn’t hungry but couldn’t turn down the opportunity for another authentic meal. We were each served chai and two little light and puffy rice cakes that were accompanied by two dipping sauces: a peanut based milky one and a mildly spiced tomato based chutney. It was a perfect light breakfast.

Anyways, we arrived at his guesthouse (apartment) by 7am, and I was out the door and on my way into the center of old Mumbai by 7:30am. I took the commuter train which was an absolute circus. I had heard stories, so I was mentally and physically prepared, with my little day backpack strapped securely around my chest, and both hands free. This was madness. I forgot to mention that the city probably got 20 inches of rain today — this is not an exaggeration. It was a crazy day, but I made the most of it. I knew I was going to get drenched, so I wore sandals, a bathing suit and my backpack under a rain coat. The rain barely affected my itinerary. In fact, it made for a couple amusing observations. First, I thought of a reason why it is right to drive on the right. Indians drive on the left-hand side of the road and you would therefore think Indians would also walk on the left. This does not happen in reality — Indians walk wherever the hell they damn please. This morning, when I was walking on the left side of the road towards the train station, I reached a point where there was a narrow foot bridge over an impromptu river. Straight ahead, there was a steady stream of umbrella wielding Indians coming in my direction, the foot deep river next to it, and a highway blocking me in. Screw it, there was no way I was getting through the Indians, so I trudged through the river. While trudging, I thought to myself, “you bastards, I am walking on the RIGHT side of the road!” Then I realized that I was actually on the LEFT side of the road. Ding ding ding — logical inconsistency — English language fail. Thus, to preserve the consistency of our language it ONLY makes sense to drive on the RIGHT! Half-joke. The other observation was manifold and dealt with Indian umbrella etiquette. Pretty interesting. Almost got my eye poked out a few times.

I don’t have time to write much more, but suffice to say, I walked in the pouring rain all day and saw tons. The architecture in old town is quite unique and dilapidated, but still stunningly beautiful. I had fresh squeezed carrot juice, orange juice and two plates of mixed fruit for less than a dollar. I explored an alley in search of a hidden gem restaurant and found a packed open air tent that was serving veg pulau. I beat the rain by watching the chef make a couple iterations of the stuff. I got the recipe down. There is a rice component and a curry component. The ingredients are: rice, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, green herb, garlic, ginger, potatoes, large peas, many spices, salt, oil, red chillies and water. Photos of my meal, the ingredients, and the chef are attached, along with one showing the waiting game people played during the worst bits of downpour.

Waiting out torential downpour.

Incoming storm!

Incoming storm!

Veg Pulau

Veg Pulau

Ingredients

Chef man

Chef man

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