Sunday, April 5, 2009

India: Shopping and Sightseeing

Yesterday I had the chance to do some shopping and sightseeing around Mumbai (Bombay). It has been interesting when I ask people about the town, just how many still say Bombay. It seems to depend a lot on age. Older people grew up with the town as Bombay at it has a great nostalgia for them, but the younger generation has less allegiance to the name Bombay and seem ok with the change. But overall, a majority of people use the name Bombay.
Javed and I started off from the hotel and headed to the downtown area to meet two girls I work with. We stopped a little along the way to do some shopping and then met up with the girls in Colaba. I bought several things there….jewelry, pashminas, etc. The girls did all the bargaining for me to make sure I was getting a good price. I have had some experience bargaining in Mexico, but nothing compared to what these two were capable of. Most of the time, they spoke in Hindi with the vendors, so I was clueless for most of it. But I knew they were getting a good deal when the seller looked less happy about the final price. Then we headed to Bandera where the shops are more current, like Nine West. We didn’t spend too much time there, but it was interesting to see that side of the shopping as well.

In between shopping we stopped at the Gateway of India and a Mahatma Gandhi’s museum. The Gateway was amazing. There were people everywhere and it is next to the Taj Hotel, which is also a sight to see.

Facts about the Gateway: It was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay in 1911. The Gateway was the monument that visitors arriving by boat would have first seen in the city of Bombay. The cost of the construction was Rs. 21 lakhs (2,100,000), borne mainly by the Government of India. For lack of funds, the approach road was never built, and so the Gateway stands at an angle to the road leading up to it.

Next stop was the museum.

Facts about the Museum: Mani Bhavan is a simple old-style, two storied building on Laburnum Road, Mumbai. Whenever Gandhiji was in Mumbai between 1917 to 1934, he stayed here. It was converted into a museum and research centre. Mani Bhavan is recognised as a Research Institute preparing students for Ph.D. degree in Gandhian Thought and Rural Development by University of Bombay.

Library - consists of around 50,000 books & periodicals in reference and lending sections. It contains books on and by Gandhi, Gandhian thoughts, freedom movements and allied subjects.

Gandhiji's Room: The room on the second floor which used to be the living room and working place of Gandhiji has been preserved as far as possible in its original setting.

The Terrace: A bronze plaque with an inscription now marks the place of the tent in which Gandhiji was arrested in January, 1932. He used to sleep and hold his prayers on this terrace. (This was close while we were there)

It was a great day. I got lots of good gifts and a few things for myself as well. :)

I spent Sunday sleeping late, laying by the pool, and relaxing in my room - a day of well deserved and needed rest. Tomorrow I am off to Pune for three days, to see our other facility.

Friday, April 3, 2009

KQ goes to India

Yes, that is correct, I arrived in India on Sunday. I am here for work. I started a new job this week who’s home office is in India; so I am here for two weeks to complete training. The flight was LONG…..Austin to Atlanta…then Atlanta to Mumbai. FIFTEEN HOURS. But you all know me, I either slept or watched TV the whole time. Three movies in all, Made of Honor, 007, and Slumdog Millionaire. Heather was so nice to loan me several books for my long trip….but I have yet to open one. Sorry friend. :(
So, I got here on Sunday and found my way around the airport and then out to find my taxi. The company has a car service with a very infamous driver named Javed. Everyone told me ‘he is the best!’. So imagine my surprise when I got in the car and we sped off at top speed, honking at everyone, nearly missing people, cars, buildings, etc. Well, now that I have been here almost a week now, I to agree, HE IS THE BEST! But people really should give a disclaimer of how people drive in India.

Everything has been great so far. My hotel is very nice, the service is amazing and the people are so incredibly friendly. I haven’t ventured out on the food side of things, as most of you know I don’t even eat dark meat chicken much less food from a street vendor, but this weekend I have plans to go shopping, visit the Gateway to India, and to various museums so I’ll try to sample some of the local cuisine. But fortunately, probably because of my eating habits, I have yet to get sick. WHOOHOO!

Here are a few pictures I have taken so far. Miss you all! See you soon. :)

(View of the city from my hotel)

(My hotel)

(Looking out the car window....)

(Notice the light is red, yet we are all going through it)