“You wanna go to Mumbai this weekend?” “Sure!”

Photo above: Gateway of India in Mumbai at night.

A trip that was planned last minute, literally on Friday before we would leave Saturday morning the four of us, along with Connor by our side, made a 3 day trip to Mumbai.

Us with Megha's AWESOME friend, Anagha, who showed us around Mumbai.

Us with Megha’s AWESOME friend, Anagha, who showed us around Mumbai.

At the butt-crack of dawn, with only about 3 hours of sleep, we all arose at 5am in order to make our train at 7:45. This may have been a bit of a precaution considering that we arrived at the train station with an hour to spare. When the train finally arrived, we were more than happy to enjoy our double decker train that brought through many tempting cups of tea and coffee, and the most memorable “tomattooooo soupppp”. Katherine and Brittney were more than happy to enjoy the cutest little kid ever whom at first was terrified of the foreign white people, but by the end was continuously playing and peeking at them through the seats. After 5 long hours of train riding we all had arrived at the Central Mumbai Station. Full of confusion and squinty eyes we made it outside the heavenly gates to be greeted and bombarded with taxi drivers all trying to drive us to our hotel. After some arguing and bargaining, we all 5 climbed into one taxi.

Once we arrived at the hotel, it was time to explore the city. We walked for about 30 minutes

Shut up. Starbucks is in our blood.

Shut up. Starbucks is in our blood.

in search of the famous Café Leopold, this café had been one of the spots under attack during the 2008 terrorist attack. As soon as we walked in, we knew it had to be good. The restaurant’s dishes covered anything from a hamburger, Singapore noodles, to Eugene and Connor’s personal favorite Tandoori Chicken. After our bellies were full and happy we headed over to Starbucks, like the Seattleites we are, and grabbed some warm coffee. At last we made our way to the Gateway of India which was created for King George V and Queen Mary’s arrival. It was here that Brittney was able to get mehndi done by the cutest little girl, whom also gave advice to Laurie to watch her bag. We all ended the night by meeting with Megha’s friend Anagha whom showed us around and took us to an amazing bar that not only served beer, but also served delicious chicken (much different from our home in Vadodora which is both dry and vegetarian) and later showed us the Queens Necklace in the pouring monsoon rains!

Brittney getting henna done by a sweet little girl.

Brittney getting henna done by a sweet little girl.

Sunday morning we all woke up and met Anagha again, who would spend the day showing us around the city. The day was filled with lots of shopping and bargaining at the flea market, FabIndia, and an art museum. Katherine, Brittney, and Laurie found all kinds of goodies and blew most of the cash in their wallets while Eugene and Connor got majestically matching Indian shirts. Laurie whipped out her inner Asian (basically channeling her mom) and bargained with the vendors like it was nobody’s business. Brittney and Katherine lacked a little on their bargaining skills and stuck close to Anegha for bargaining guidance. FabIndia still haunts all of the girls’ dreams, as they are constantly thinking about going to a nearby FabIndia that will live up to the amazing store in Mumbai. After a full packed day and Anagha’s fabulous guidance we were able to catch a public train to her area of the city and visit her home. It was here that for the first time we had our first Indian street food.

Connor getting his head massaged.

Connor getting his head massaged.

We tried vegetable sandwiches, buns filled with fried potatoes, and panipuri. During this time, Eugene and Connor found it necessary to get a head massage by a street barber. This consisted of a bit of head banging which seemed utterly terrifying, followed by some light head massaging, a neck crack, and a little back massage. The boys finished their adventure feeling somewhat satisfied, but mostly terrified.

With a restful night of sleep we all arose on Monday morning sad to leave. Mumbai is large and great and every single one of us would love to go back soon. Until next time Mumbai, Aavjo!

Love,

The GROW Team

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Wasssuppp?

 

DSCN0011We have all SURVIVED! After a day of traveling- where Eugene almost missed the flight,Katherine met a borderline alcoholic Irish man, Brittney fought an Indian lady for her armrest, and Laurie spent $8 on a Starbucks frappe in Dubai- we have all arrived in Vadodara. Raghu (Founder & CEO of MINDS) picked us up at the airport and was driven home by two vans (Eugene rode with our luggage in one, and Raghu, Laurie, Katherine, and Brittney rode in the other). The sights were overwhelming- we saw cows, donkeys, and dogs walking around the street, gross inequality (big houses fronted by shacks), and lots and lots of motorbikes and rickshaws. The air was also filled with the smell of cow dung and incense and loud car horns of various pitches and melodies.
Once we arrived, we were brought yogurt, water, and a Gujarati snack wrapped in newspaper. There’s geckos on the walls and the bathrooms slightly resemble medieval torture chambers. We were told we had the entire day to rest, and what was intended to be a 1-2 hour nap accidentally turned into an 8-hour nap (oops).
At night, while attempting to sleep there were an immense amount of various noises ranging from honking horns (which sometimes resembled music), birds chirping, people outside talking, and best of all a pack of stray dogs barking ferociously at monkeys during the wee hours of 3AM.DSCN0008

After an uneasy night of sleep, we rose at 6AM and were more than ready to go out and explore the city. Our first stop was the Seven Seas Mall. We were ever so lucky to all share an entertaining ride in one rickshaw (what Eugene called an “Ostrich Cart”) for 100 rupees, which caused Brittney to have to sit on both Laurie and Katherine’s lap in order to make room. Many of the locals were shocked to see Americans, since many have never seen an American in person, one man walking next to our rickshaw stopped to do a double take. Getting used to the staring has been quite the adjustment, and will most likely continue to be. In the mall we were able to eat lunch at McDonalds that included real chicken! Along with our meal we were able to do a little shopping in a store that can be considered a Walmart/Costco called “Big Bazaar”, where Laurie, Katherine, and Brittney were all able to buy some traditional Indian clothing for very cheap.

Beyond the couple of activities and events these past couple of days, the overall experience has been pretty strange to say the least. First of all, this blog post is currently being written in the dark because the power enjoys going out at the worst possible times. Also, the food is eerily simple; we had no idea there were so many different ways to make a curry that tastes just about the same. We’re still betting to see who is going to “get sick” first and apparently Brittney is in the lead (yay for pink pills). Anyways, on a happier note, we are staying in an old film studio and we are living next door to a really badass Indian soap opera star (luscious long hair and an awfully strong love for cigarettes). The amount of estrogen is also really frickin’ high.

Love,
GROW Team

PS. I am a whale