Point 1: All of these photos are provided by my friend and yours, the iPhone. Yes, it's a technological wonder but no, it does not come with awesome photography skills nor a solid auto-correct function on its camera.
Point 2: I'm now 7 days into my Mumbai adventure. While I have found myself humbled and feeling like an entitled, and thus semi-embarrassed, American 90% of the time, the other 10% of the time I genuinely wonder, what the hell is this? Get with it, this is gross/ridiculous/silly/annoying/overly complicated/insanely outdated/unnecessary. My introduction to our Mumbai office introduced me to the feelings in that other 10% category.
Carson and I finish breakfast and pile into a cab. "Pile" is not an exaggeration. Cabs here are like Micro Machines. You'd think they were leftover toys from somebody's weekend home where teenage boys got drunk and drove around the property with the sole purpose of screwing up the vehicle suspension.
The other thing that is unique about these cabs are their interiors. Each one sports a different kind of worn polar fleece in vibrant but hideous psychadelic patterns. I now know where all the unsold bolts of polar fleece go when they leave Joann Fabric's shelves.
The cab fare runs us 50 rupees. For those playing the home currency exchange game, that's $1.00 USD. One dollar for two people to go approximately one mile. Some nights this ride from the office to the hotel runs me only 30 rupees and other times it'll go as high as 70, but I've been instructed to never pay more than 100, especially if there is no air conditioning. By the way, most cab fare meters are purely ornamental.
We pull up to the office. Here's a quick game - can you spot an architectural firm in the picture below?
Still looking? Don't feel too bad. I couldn't find it either. Let's go in for a closer look.
Oh! Looky there, a sign. This is a live-and-in-the-flesh example of the classic phrase, "blink and you'll miss it!"
Just past the sign is a set of stairs leading up to level 3 (the fourth floor for us Americans) that defies all suggestions that an office lies ahead. It was also the first moment where I exclaimed aloud, with absolutely no shame, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is how we get to the office?"
I think the poor picture quality aptly illustrates how in shock I was. I could hardly hold the camera still. But wait! It gets better. Look what greeted us on the steps: an unidentified and intact vertebrae. It bears noting that I kept a cautious eye out for this artifact each day and it stuck around for 4 days straight, holding strong against lots of foot traffic and creatures of the night.
After climbing 3 very full flights of stairs (one of which is known for its rat commune) you reach the top level and the entrance to our office. Ahhh, sweet, sweet classic architecture firm loft in white.
I am one of about 30 people who call this place home from about 8:15a-8:15p. My desk is the one front and center and it's about 10 feet from the office door. Outside our windows are treetops with several brightly colored parrots who stand out in stark contrast against the dulled green leaves that are covered in Mumbai dirt and dust. Foliage around here looks like it belongs in a bad hotel that hasn't dusted its fake trees in months. The cleansing (read: monsoon) rains won't come until June but I'm okay with that for now. 85* with low humidity and full sunshine beats a Chicago winter day hands down. Vertebrae on the stairs to the office, however, is clearly a point for Chicago.
Stay tuned, for these stairs play an important role in Friday the 13th happenings.