India - Weekend Outing: Let's Go For A Drive

During my second to last weekend in India I took things relatively easy. The work week prior had been a bear and I was in full recovery mode. Therefore, my appetite for roaming the streets and expanding my cultural knowledge was mild, to say the least. But by Sunday afternoon I had the itch to leave the hotel. Carson hooked me up with a trusted cab driver, Mr. Sajid, and I booked two hours of his time to ride off into the sunset, stopping by Dhobi Ghat, the Hanging Gardens, and Jain Temple all along the way.

Now, taking a leisurely Sunday drive in India is wildly different than what I experienced as a kid in the back seat of Grandma and Grandpa's car, gently cresting over Ohio's little hills as we stared out at the cornfields. In India, the Sunday drive involved navigating the Mumbai flyover, which could be designated as another Wonder of the World. Imagine the Toad's Turnpike level in Super Mariokart mixed with the grit and grime of Grand Theft Auto. I'd say that'll give you the experience of riding along the Mumbai flyover. This series of mega bridges that weave in and out, up and down throughout the cityscape is really quite cool. You get to see a lot, if you're brave enough to look out the window, that is. Thankfully, for both you and me, I did look around and took lots of pictures!

Mr. Sajid masterfully navigated all these roads and in no time we were at our first stop, Dhobi Ghat. Translation: open air laundromat. 4,000 people - yes, that's 3 zeros - work here throughout the day doing laundry for mostly hotels and hospitals. Take a look in the picture below and notice the pile of white on top of a roof. Those are hotel bed linens. Now look slightly to the right at the bands of pastels. Those are hospital scrubs.

Smaller orders from families also are washed, dried, and even pressed here.

And as with many things in India, there's always a juxtaposition to be had if you look around. Here we've got literally tons of clothing being cleaned and pressed at the exact moment that filthy, smoke-covered trains rush by and stir up train bed dirt.

After Dhobi Ghat we hopped back in the car and headed back in the general direction of the hotel. Instead of continuing south along Marine Drive we motored up the cliff that I could see from my hotel room across the bay. This is Malabar Hill and atop it sits very posh condos and a huge park called the Hanging Gardens.

Within the park there is a nice overlook where you can see out to the bay and beaches along Marine Drive. In the picture below, my hotel is at the far right and is obscured by a few branches from the trees in the right corner. When I ran on the weekends I would start at the hotel and end up at about this spot (down at sea level) before turning around. It's about 2.75 miles to this point, thanks to the swooping edge of the bay.

Look! There was an old woman (and probably many others) who lived in a shoe!

Across the road from the Hanging Gardens is another park that is much different in feel. Whereas the Gardens are pretty lush and made up of small outdoor rooms, Priyadarshini Park feels like you're standing on top of a huge roof terrace amid other skyscrapers.

The park was quite full of people strolling its paths and generally milling about. If I hadn't been hassled to buy postcards or the Kama Sutra, I may have stayed a bit longer. Thankfully, telling hawkers that I'm from Germany shuts this conversation down pretty quickly every time. So, to whomever that man in Delhi was who told me I looked more German than American, I thank you. (I have some ancestors who probably thank you, too.) Evidently nobody wants to bother trying to sell stuff to Germans!

The last stop of the day was to a Jain Temple. Despite being pretty agnostic, I thoroughly enjoy visiting places of worship when traveling. Not sure why this is but at least on one level the architecture is typically astounding. The Jain Temple did not disappoint.

Before we go in, let's establish the house rules:

May I suggest these folks take a lesson from the Disney crew and put the gift shop at the exit to the attraction, where you're a captive audience AND so high on whatever you just saw that you want to buy stuff? Seeing trinkets before the main show kind of spoils the allure of the goods, no?

As you can see from the approach, this place is full of intricate carvings where marble and silver are the main stars.

Bouquets of flowers as column capitals? Now this was one of the orders of architecture that I must have missed during Arch History 101.

I don't know, there's something off kilter about seeing trite English phrases in a Jain temple.

Intensely carved underside of a dome.

Huge doorways made of silver.

Bells to call people to prayer.

Inlaid floors of vibrant stone.

And back out to the street we go.

Well, friends, this post wraps up our series on weekend outings. My last weekend in India did involve going to a street art fair and wandering about a modern art museum. But it may have also involved nursing a slight hangover that then may have been slept off at the pool. It turns out my previous favorite drink, the French 75, has been replaced by the Bombay 75. Sapphire gin and key limes for the win!

1 comment:

Meigan said...

I am SO going to say I'm from Germany from now on! Great one! :)


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