We were in India about a week ago. It was my first time there.
Sky and I had the romantic notion of finding a place where we could live with the kids for a year out of the “bubble” in which we find ourselves in our beautiful home in the hills above Santa Monica.
India attracted us because it’s a country going through a transformative expansion in so many ways. We wanted to see entrepreneurs and schools and daily life.
What we found was a country still very much in the Third World, improving, but not as quickly as we had imagined.
Mind you, on this first trip, we only went to Mumbai. That’s a bit like visiting the US and only going to Detroit. (Except that Detroit does not have 20 million people in it, last time I checked.) We are in no way experts on the country. We’ve barely dipped a toe in India’s fragrant waters, as it were.
I think we were half expecting to watch the plot of Slumdog Millionaire unfold before us as we drove through the city. We did find slumdog and millionaire, but the two did not ever overlap. More on that in a later post. The disparity between rich and poor is breathtaking.
I’m going to do a few blog posts about the trip. It’s past bedtime right now and I want to get something up, so this is just a start: the Taj and Gateway of India. We arrived in Mumbai at night, and these were the very first things we saw when we woke up.
We stayed at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which has been in business since 1903.
It’s quite nice, though a tad musty in the rooms facing the harbor.
Interior corridor and gallery.
Right across the street is the Gateway of India, a forlorn sort of tourist spot.
I like this picture of the little kid picking up seeds for the birds. In the background is a huge crowd. The plaza around the monument is enormous, so maybe that doesn’t look like a lot of people, but it is.
The resolution on the picture above is not great, and you can’t read the inscription. So here’s a much better picture I took from someone else’s Flckr stream, which shows it nicely:
The monument does have a sort of “Bow down before me, my lowly subjects” type vibe, but it’s also kind of cool. Boats can pull up just below it, as you can see here, so it’s part of a working harbor.
More to come: beggars and slums and bureaucracy and a cow…