More Adventures in Mumbai

Got up around eight o’clock this morning, and went out on our balcony where the morning was already warm.  I didn’t fancy going to breakfast so Trevor just brought me back a cup of coffee and a small muffin which I ate in the cabin while getting ready.

Around 9.30am, we disembarked the Constellation and went through the usual immigration process in the cruise terminal before seeking the shuttle bus to take us into town.  The journey only took about five minutes, then it was up to us to explore Mumbai on our own.  What I was particularly looking for was some more of those handbags, and maybe some nice wraps or those floaty sequinned tops; something typically Indian that I would enjoy wearing.  I knew from our holiday in India in 2015 that everything here is dirt cheap.

We had seen yesterday that the roads next to the maidans (where they play cricket) were lined with colourful-looking stalls, so we decided to go there, while looking in shops on the way.  As ever, you had to have eyes in the front, back and sides of your head while crossing the road.  Even when you did reach the pavement you weren’t entirely safe, as the paving slabs or block-paving were uneven and broken, and could easily have caused a broken ankle or, at the least, a nasty fall if you weren’t looking where you were going.

We fought our way through the crowds as we looked in the various shop fronts and at the stalls dotted here and there.  The evocative smells of wood-smoke and incense mixed with the aromas of spices and the ever-present whiff of curry, and occasionally the less-pleasant smells of drains or cow muck.

We tried to avoid the traffic and crowds by taking a short-cut down some side streets, until we reached the start of the maidans cricket grounds.  Inside, there were many games of cricket in progress, where all the players were wearing the proper cricket whites and casual spectators sat on anything available to give them a good vantage point of any game.

Soon we came to the start of the many rows of stalls.  I was a bit disappointed, however, as most of the stuff seemed more Western than Indian; there were many stalls selling jeans, shirts, casual jackets and cotton dresses and tops, but nothing that I couldn’t have bought back home.  Also, the quality of a lot of the clothing was poor; the raw edges were not finished off, hems and zips were sewn in crookedly and lots of loose threads were hanging.  I did, however, find one place selling colourful print cotton skirts in lots of different colours; I ended up buying one in red and yellow, decorated with the inevitable elephants.  It only cost about seven quid so not too bad then.

At another stall I was browsing through the typically-Indian long tunics and the stall owner came over and said “We have very, very big sizes Madam – your size!”.  Cheeky bugger!  Although I suppose Indian ladies do tend to be quite petite compared to your average Westerners. I tried on some of the tops but they were either too small across the bust or they were badly-made, so I decided not to bother.

After we’d finished browsing the stalls (I didn’t find what I was looking for) we decided to make our way back to the main town centre and go for a nice cold beer, as I also needed the toilet by now.  We therefore found a bar selling the inevitable Kingfisher beer and as I went to make use of the restrooms Trevor ordered the beers, which came in big 650ml bottles and were cold and delicious.  We stood out in the bar a mile; not only were we the only couple in a bar full of men occupying single tables, but we were the only white couple and I was the only female.  😊

After our beers we were ready to browse the shops some more, and we made our way through the dilapidated streets, watching where we were putting our feet.  I was amused to see a tortoiseshell cat curled up asleep in the footwell of a motor-scooter, and we also saw skinny stray cats and kittens; it’s always the animals that tug at my heart-strings.

Eventually I was attracted by the brightly-coloured clothing and materials in a shop window, so we went in to have a look.  I bought a couple more of the sequinned, embroidered bags and also a couple of gorgeous wraps, one in shades of purple and lilac with sequins and a beaded fringe, and one in warm shades decorated with flourished letters of the alphabet.  The whole lot cost 1050 rupees, or around 11 quid – a bargain.

Passing a pharmacy, I asked them if they had anything for my cough, which still didn’t seem any better after five days.  They gave me a bottle of “Coughex” tablets, which were little herb-scented tablets that you chewed on; I think they were just some sort of Ayurvedic complementary medicine, so I wasn’t sure if they’d actually work, but they were only 80 rupees so I had nothing to lose.

After our fruitful and interesting morning, we decided to start making our way back to the ship; we reckon we’d probably walked a total of about four miles.  So once again it was the usual battle of crossing the streets until we were back at the shuttle bus pick-up point at the dock gates, where a bus was already waiting.

Five minutes later, we were presenting the (now somewhat dog-eared) copies of our passports and visa at the entrance to the cruise terminal, then again at the security point where our bags were scanned.  Then it was up the gangplank and back onto the Constellation where our bags were scanned yet again; this time it wasn’t for security purposes but more to check that we hadn’t tried to smuggle any booze on board.

We returned to our cabin and dumped our bags before getting washed and making our way up to the pool deck for a nice refreshing cold beer. I wasn’t hungry, but Trevor enjoyed some pizza washed down with his Samuel Adams beer, and we just sat on deck and watched the world go by.

The afternoon passed in its pleasant way and soon I was getting showered and shampooed and ready to go to dinner.  At six o’clock we heard the three blasts of the Constellation’s whistle as we slowly moved away from the dockside and put to sea once more.

We decided we’d go to the self-service buffet in the Ocean View, and we enjoyed a delicious meal, washed down with prosecco, as we watched the lights of India receding into the distance.  We had the next two days at sea to look forward to.

We finished our dinner in good time for the early performance in the Celebrity Theatre, and we made our way to the seats near the front in eager anticipation of this evening’s show. This time it would feature Rob Lewis as Phil Collins (the show that had been postponed from a couple of nights ago).

Rob was really great; he did all of Phil Collins’ famous hits such as Against All Odds, Two Hearts, Another Day in Paradise and his first (and probably best) solo hit, In The Air Tonight.  In this one, a drum kit rose up onto the stage and he sat and played the famous drum break during the song (think of the gorilla in the Cadbury’s TV advert!).  It was an excellent finale to what was a very entertaining show.

Afterwards we had a wander around the ship and had a look around the shops, before adjourning to the dim and cosy comfort of the Rendez-Vous lounge.   We enjoyed a couple of cocktails while listening to the J.Beam Band playing “Roots of Rock and Roll”.

Then, just before 11.00pm, we went back along to the theatre for the late performance which was for adults only.  It was a production by the show company called “Elyria”, and was set in a sort of fantasy, “Lord of the Rings” style setting, with a dialogue full of double-entendres and some fantastic music, singing and dancing.  It was certainly a show with a difference, and we enjoyed it very much.

Afterwards, we returned to cabin 6098 and I sat out on the balcony for a while, enjoying the sounds of the sea and the balmy night air.  Once again the sea was calm and flat; you would never have known you were on a ship.

We settled down for the night and I slept as well as my cough would allow.

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