31.12.2009 - 30.04.2010 30 °C
I arrived in Mumbai (Bombay) on December 31st. Mumbai international airport is the worst airport I have seen in the world (and I have seen many). If you ever have to use this airport watch these rules:
Upon arrival, once you are past the custom you are directed immediately outside and once outside you cannot get back in.
You can only get inside the airport if you have a departure ticket and then only 3 hours prior to departure.
There is one well hidden waiting room that you can use only if you have a departure ticket and then only 5 hours prior to departure.
If you happen to have an early flight go all the way to the left when facing the entrance. At the very far end of the building there is a 24 hours restaurant that is relatively reasonably priced and where you can spend the night instead of waiting outside.
Anyway, I was back in India, the land of traffic chaos, colors, non-functioning toilet flushes (Is it really that difficult to design? Really?), corruption, ecological disaster, and one of the broadest personal freedom in the world. I think India is a love-hate relationship for everybody who comes here.
After watching the sun rise behind the Gateway to India, I met up with Bomi, who had come here to pick me up, at the famous Cafe Leopold on Colaba Causeway. We spent New Year's Eve on Chowpatty Beach with a funny French-Indian Artist named Shiva who shared his chocolate-flavored cigars with us, and walked back along Marine Drive to our Guest House in Colaba. I had missed Mumbai.
Chowpatty Beach on New Year's Eve.
We stayed in Mumbai for a couple days and had a look at the city. Here are some pictures of the Haji Ali Mosque. It is built on a small rock out in the sea, and is only accessible during low tide, as the way there is submerged during high tide.
After this we went back to Pondicherry. Bomi is taking French classes and I am going to a 10 days Vipassana mediatation course in Chennai (Madras) tomorrow. 10 days of complete silence and over 12 hours of meditation per day. I wonder what's going to happen to my mind (delusions of grandeur? amok run? Jerusalem syndrom?). Keep tuned to find out in 2 weeks...
Here are some pictures taken during the Pungal festival, a harvest festival in Tamil Nadu. During the 4 days of the festival the families decorate the pavement in front in very artistic ways:
The plan so far is to stay here until April to see if it'll work with Bomi and me. If it does, we're thinking of going to Pakistan in April and take the Karakoram Highway to China.