This was my first overseas trip. Because it was for business (scouting two potential companies for outsourcing our customer service department), I didn't do a lot of sightseeing. As a result I didn't take many photos and didn't keep a journal. In fact I'm writing this skeletal commentary two years later, recreating it from memory and e-mails. Some of the comments may have been placed on the wrong day, but you don't know any better.
My flight path was LA to Detroit to Amsterdam to Mumbai. Total travel time including layovers was nearly 24 hours.
At LAX's Northwest terminal I noticed a "Duty Free Galleria". Later in the trip, after I had consumed several spicy Indian meals, housekeeping would struggle to keep my bathroom doodie-free.
Flying into Amsterdam I looked down on the red-roofed houses and felt like Charlie Bucket in the glass elevator.
KLM flight attendants are among the hottest women in the world. Dutch girls who don't work for KLM also rank highly.
Upon landing in Mumbai I was instantly hit with the Smell.
27,600 rupees (US$600). I ended up spending only about $50 out of this. Gandhi is so MEAN that he's on all the money.
My Mumbai hosts gave me a driving tour of the city before I took an Indian Airlines flight to Hyderabad. India turns out to be more American than I expected. Traffic is chaotic--technically there are lanes, but nobody pays attention to them. The most amazing thing about Mumbai is how the cars can avoid hitting each other, the pedestrians, beggars (including one blind guy who was feeling for car windows so he could knock on them), stray dogs and cattle.
At least 99% of women in India wear saris, but in the Catholic area of Mumbai the schoolgirls were dressed as expected, and many of them were checking out the white guy in my car (i.e., me).
Cadbury appears to be the predominant vendor of chocolate products in Mumbai.
Mumbai is like Tijuana but in English.
Gateway of India.
View from my room at the Leela, perhaps the nicest hotel in Mumbai. It was as soggy as this photo looks. There were a few storms, although I did miss monsoon season by a few weeks.
I spent most of the day visiting one of the aforementioned companies. Both companies fed me lots of Coke, which helped me avoid the hepatitis problem with the tap water.
My room at the Grand Kakatiya Sheraton, which I think is still the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in.
View from the office. Golconda Fort is on the distant hill. My unconcealed fascination with the fort led to the next day's sightseeing trip.
Tonight I had an authentic Indian dinner, which included my first experience with mutton. Most of my Indian meals on this trip were chicken/pork/mutton in various spicy sauces. Not every meal was Indian; one day we ordered lunch from Domino's.
I met an American guy who was consulting for the Hyderabad company. He claimed to have played in the NFL and that his mother owns the Station Casinos group. I subsequently could not confirm any of this.
After a partial day at the office, my hosts took me on a driving tour of Hyderabad. Hyderabad is somewhat nicer than Mumbai and doesn't smell as bad, but the airports in both cities need to be torn down. Hyderabad is also a Muslim city, whereas most of the rest of the country including Mumbai is Hindu.
Highlight of the drive was seeing goats hanging out at the corner store. Also in the suburbs I saw water buffalo. But no elephants or cobras anywhere.
The Charminar, built in 1591.
Next 4 uncaptioned photos are from Golconda Fort. Located inside the walled Old City, it is thought to have been the source of the UK's Crown Jewels, and is currently home to hundreds of screeching bats, which were heard by me.
Boarding the flight back to Mumbai, I read a sign warning against operating the "aerobridge unauthorisedly".
I impressed my Mumbai hosts my mentioning Bhopal, site of the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak that killed 2000. During the same breakfast conversation they assured me that Kashmir is safe to visit.
I believe this was the day that I also impressed them by eating a hot pepper that they said most Indians would never eat.
Most of today was spent at the offices of the Mumbai company. A bunch of us went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner.
At night we went to a bar (Indigo) that Chelsea Clinton visited the previous year. The clientele was dressed Westernly, but just as in the US all the girls were there with their boyfriends.
In the Leela gift shop I unintentionally insulted Hanuman, the monkey god, prior to purchasing him.
The downtown Taj Mahal Hotel, possibly the only one in Mumbai nicer than the Leela.
Prior to departure I called room service for a hamburger, and it came topped with an egg, sunny side up (which apparently is the Euro style). Actually the sunny side was all over the place.
Heading back to the airport we had to take a detour because the main road was flooded. The alternate road was lined with shacks that oozed poverty from every orifice, except for the ornate illuminated shrine that each family had set up for its favorite god.
The change booth at the Mumbai airport offered to exchange rupees for Dutch "gulden". Initially I commented that the Indians' usually impeccable English didn't quite pass the mustard in this instance, but I later learned that "gulden" is Dutch for "guilder".
This long day (36.5 hours midnight to midnight) was interesting in that I had breakfast somewhere over the Czech Republic, had lunch in Detroit, and in between took a dump in Amsterdam (consisting mostly of the runny eggburger).
All my stuff now smells like India.
©2004 Zzyzx Creations
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