Mumbai Part Two

on Sunday, 01 September 2013. Posted in India Travels



The Dr works using three really small rooms, the largest being about 10 by 10ft.  At times, there were 11 people in there; the good doctor, me and a homeopathic colleague from the U.S., five other student doctors, two assistants and one other person coming and going.  The privacy normally expected by people in the West is unknown here.  You’re expected to come in, tell your story and then leave. There is no sentiment, no pampering.  Some people only come to refill the homeopathic prescriptions and are in and out in a minute.  Others will stay longer but it is apparent anarchy and at the same time, it seems to work quite well.  The main Dr who we are visiting is a really experienced homeopath and who also works in various hospitals in the city as a consultant and also in Pune, about 100 miles away, which we visited one day. The hospital in Pune was really interesting, a private institution in really good condition and well-funded, having all modern technology available.  We spent four hours there seeing patients, getting through about 40 people in that time. We drove there in a fancy air conditioned car along a new highway which I had never seen in India before, but still the driving was crazy at times, trucks broken down or staggering up the hills, smoke bellowing from their exhausts. We stopped enroute at a great resting place, to drink a chai, smoke a bidi – yes I couldn’t resist it – and eat a bit of food.

We had a day off and went downtown to Colaba, the tourist area where the shooting in Mumbai had happened. You wouldn’t know anything had happened until you visit the Taj hotel, the posh hotel at the Gateway to India. The whole area in front of the hotel is cordoned off and you have to go through security to get in, which we did, and inside by this beautiful waterfall there is a temporary memorial to all those who died in the shootings, which Indians call 26/11, like our 9/11. Going by Leopold’s Café, another place that was attacked, people are carrying on and all the shops are back to normal, at least on the surface. Who knows what is simmering underneath?

We went to this real fancy movie theater with one of the people working in the clinic, and saw Australia.  She loved it, perhaps because it was like a Bollywood movie without the singing!  My colleague and I were mildly entertained, being the cynical westerners that we are, but maybe it was just such a kitsch movie anyway.  OK, it was meant to be that way, but it was too gay for my liking.  We felt Russell Crowe and Emma Thompson would have done a better job, with Russell being way meaner than Hugh Jackman and Emma playing an older, proper English woman who would eventually allow herself to be taken by a brute Australian outback lout. Where were we now. Oh yes, India?

I had never been to a movie theater like that in India before, another sign of the wealth in Mumbai and the westernization of the elite here.  The food in the cinema was great but we froze with the air-conditioning.

In preparation for India I read an amazing book called A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, a great fiction book about India set around the time of the Emergency, in the 1970’s, which was enacted by Indira Ghandi, and which led to some pretty despicable things, like forced sterilizations and the clearing of many slums, leaving millions destitute etc.  It is a great portrayal of the tragedy and also hope that has been the lot for many millions of Indians who have struggled for survival.  I’m now reading ‘The Idea of India” by Sunil Khilnani, a brilliant analysis of modern India, from Independence in 1947 to the present day. Highly recommended for all India heads.  Next on the list is “Maximum City, Bombay Lost and Found, which as you can tell is all about Bombay and which the reviews rave as being the best book ever about Bombay


So, we have 3 more days to go here and then it’s off to Aurangabad, about 200 miles north of Bombay from where we will visit the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain caves of Ellora and Ajanta, which promises to be quite spectacular (check it out online).  I’m going to meet my mum at the airport, and then we are going to fly straight away to Aurangabad.  (she doesn’t know this yet.)