This morning we ate breakfast at the Y.W.C.A hostel and then headed out into the Mumbai to exchange money and do some shopping. It was our first time out and the stares we got were crazy. We passed lots of street vendors and at least half a dozen stalls that had bundles of sugarcane and machines that would grind it up. There were also vendors that had all kinds of fruit and coconuts. The roads were extremely busy and I personally have not heard so many car horns in my life. We passed lots of stray cats and dogs, one even seemed to single us out and barked at us, even with a couple dozen people also going about their business around us. I think he knew we were not from here…
Next we went to the Gateway of India, which was located just a short walk away on the waterfront of the Arabian Sea. The Gateway was built in 1924 and it would have been the first structure that visitors arriving to Mumbai by boat would see. There were a lot of tourists there, but our group was the only one with western people. As soon as we got out our cameras and started taking some group photos, we had a guy photobomb us. We got a ton of attention and as we looked around, I could see that people were taking pictures of us as they walked by and I saw one person videotaping us. We stood together for a large group photo and I handed my camera to Cathleen so I could jump in one of the pictures. Alongside Cathleen, there were at least four other people lined up and taking pictures of our group. We felt like celebrities! Ellie was even asked to take a picture with someone.
After exploring the Gateway to India, we stopped in at the Taj Mahal Palace, which is a really nice hotel. We took a 20 minute break to get out of the heat and looked around in some of the higher end stores on the lower level of the hotel. There were some really beautiful fabrics and clothes that I liked looking at. After our break, we went to shop at some cheaper places. We learned how to barter with some of the street vendors and purchased some clothes for our time here. I was really surprised to see so many of the vendors knew English. One of the store owners was really fluent and asked where we were from, what we were doing, etc. I had a really nice conversation with him. He was very friendly and thanked us for coming in.
After shopping we got lunch out and then headed back to the hostel around 2 pm since it was getting even hotter out. We spent the remainder of the day resting up or going back out to shop and then got dinner, which was served by the hostel as well. The food was delicious and I am excited to be trying so many new dishes. We were also served what I think we determined was butterscotch ice cream, which was amazing. I personally had an amazing experience today in Mumbai. Tomorrow we head out around noon to travel to Pune by train and then on to Walchandnagar.