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Friday, January 08, 2010


This post was originally intended to be of the "Things i've seen in the past day or two" variety, but due to recent blog prolificity (I have some entries stored up, even), I've been delaying things, and now it's just become a list of observations about Mumbai.


Ranging from banal to blasphemous, cute to cringetastic, delectable to disgusting (you decide which is which!), here are a few things that I recall having happened or appeared in my presence recently:

1) A Hindi (or maybe Marathi?) screaming match between a train security officer and a pair of old ladies. I think they were on the waiting list and weren't supposed to have boarded the train;

2) 3 little kids sharing a train sleeping berth (adorable!). The baby was in some saffron-colored jumpsuit;

3) An old woman walking up and down the aisle carrying a tray of at least a hundred guavas on her head;

4) "Brain" on a restaurant menu [I was dubious]; and then, later that evening,

5) Small brains (think apples) on a platter next to a grill at a night market;

6) A woman walking by on the sidewalk touches a cow's rump, then makes the sign of the cross over her chest;

7) Gandhi's Mumbai residence;

8) A Korean consulate with 10 employees working in the office, none of them Korean;

9) A plate of papaya, watermelon, and pineapple for 10 rupees (22ish cents);

10) An old man sitting on the curb picking at a gaping foot wound;

11) A slum-in-the-making or something like that. Along the overpass I was walking on, there was a sidewalk with a guard rail and vertical metal supports every 6 inches. All of a sudden there was a corrugated steel wall blocking the sidewalk, so everyone had to walk on the road. Every 6 feet or so, there'd be a gap where the metal bars had been, and a sliding corrugated steel door opening onto a "house" about the size of a full bathroom in the states. The kind where the shower is in the tub, not the kind with a stand-alone shower and a jacuzzi. Inside some there were laundry lines and drying clothes, inside others there were kitchens and about 8 square feet of floor space, and inside others there were 10 people (mostly kids) watching TV;

12) Little boy pooping in the street;

13) People I assume are kitchen workers citting on the whotel seiling chopping onions and chilis, kneading dough, and cooking stuff on portable gas burners;

14) A horse! Indians use "buffalos" (not the old American kind) or "bullocks" (a cow-like animal I was unfamiliar with before coming here) for most of their hauling needs, and I had kind of been wondering about horses. I think they're just for tourist carriages here though;

15) An ingenious squat-if-you-want-don't-if-you-don't toilet, raised nice and high and with a seat like we're used to, but instead of having a thin little porcelain rim, it's got a nice thick one with ridges and places for your feet. Unfortunately it wasn't attached to the floor so well, so it's quite tough to stand on it without tipping it one way or the other and risking breaking a pipe; and, lastly,*

16) My own ponytail in a triple-reflection in an elevator (in case you were wondering where the cringetastic would come in.)

17) The first toilet paper I've seen in a bathroom. It was in a bookstore called "Crosswords," which from the inside is indistinguishable from Barnes n Noble or Borders. The color of the TP, you ask? Pink. Know what? I didn't use it. Wasn't even tempted! Long live the left hand.

18) Some of the most insane menu items ever. They reminded me of the SNL skit "Taco Town" (but please don't watch it until after reading...)

19) There's of course lots of quirky English all over the place, but I'll just give you one example. This is on a strip of paper taped to the top of the cubicle here in the cyber cafe: "PLEASE ALIMINATE OUR PERSON BEFORE REMOVING PENDRIVE."

20) The most wannabe-decadent-but-too-similar-to-TGIFriday's-stuff menu items I've ever seen:

Vegetable Satellite Sizzler: An assortment of exotic vegetables grilled over a hot plate on a bed of rice or noodles, with sauteed onions, grilled tomatoes and potato fries, doused in black pepper garlic sauce and cheese, topped with a falafel bullet.

Mexican Fajita Sizzler: A sizzling platter of garden-fresh vegetables, American corn [huh?], baby corn, and paneer, sauteed in a Mexican tomato sauce served with buttered coriander rice, Mexican beans and potato chips, topped with nacho cheese and an American corn cheese ball [huh]? accompanied by a soft tortilla, sour cream, and chips.

Italian Siciliana Sizzler: Penne arriabiata and spaghetti in cheese sauce with mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers and American corn in our fiery black pepper sauce, accompanied with potato chips and vegetables, topped with an American corn cheese ball, and cheese.

(reminds me of this SNL skit)

*Day-Later-Update: I went back to that squat-if-you-want toilet this morning, only to find that someone had indeed broken the pipe, almost certaily while trying to mount the toilet. Now when you flush it, the water comes out of the tank and into the bowl OK, but rather than being jettisoned away, it all just goes plop onto the floor. Yick. I went down to reception to say "I told you so," and now I'm allowed to use the staff toilet 3 floors below my room. Joy.


Marisa said...

To "huh" number one: long live American corn! My favorite: Silver Queen. A few glorious weeks at the end of summer never seem long enough...

To "huh" number two: have you never watched Arrested Development??

Mike said...

The only time I've watched A.D. at all was when the 4 of us were all hanging out at Atheeeeena's. That also happened to be the time I thought endless persimmon gin & tonics would be a good idea. So you can count that as a "no."

I'll try to mention corn in future posts to guarantee I get your attention. ^^