Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Looneys have Landed

Sunday morning, very early, the Looneys; well more accurately, Bernie and Maureen, landed in Mumbai.

We caught up until about 3 a.m. Sunday morning.

Then we were up early and began seeing the sights of Mumbai.

We were up again on Monday and again today.  Pictures say more than words so enjoy Bernie and Maureen's first time exploring India.  I've included photos just from our first two days.  Still working on uploading highlights from today.

Actually, I've been able to explore and learn a lot too.

For those interested in itineraries:

Day 1 -  The sights of Mumbai
We started the day by meeting our wonderful guide Manasi at the Shivari Terminus (formally, Victoria Terminus) Station. Hiring a guide, rather than doing it on our own, was important to me since I could just point and read from a book, but instead wanted a chance for my parents, and myself, to truly learn about Mumbai first-hand.  

After touring the CS Terminus and getting acquainted with how many people use their heads to transport goods, we drove around a bit to see more sights of Kala Ghoda including universities along with cricket grounds and St. Thomas Cathedral.  

Then we went onto the Gateway and of course the obligatory trip to the Taj Hotel to obviously use the restroom but also see the beautifully restored dome.  

Our final stop was the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum which includes history and from the Indus Valley to swords from the Maharajas to the stuffed fowl of India.  

After a jam-packed morning, we ended our tour by eating a light lunch including tartines and of course some dessert, at Le Pain Quotidien, a divine Belgium bakery, in Colaba.  And yes, Mumbaikers, of course we brought home treats for the next day.

Day 2 - Dhobi Ghat and Dharavi tours
Since my parents had their India introduction day on Sunday, we went full on into local Indian life on Day Two.  We visited Dhobi Ghat, the largest laundry in the city.  The dhobis, or washermen, work for about 150 rupees a day (equivalent of $3USD).  Manasi arranged for us to tour with one of the dhobis who works for about three hours (getting up at 4:30) in the morning, and provides tours as a representative of the dhobi association. We paid a small fee to go down into the ghat and truly saw how hard the men worked and their small homes where over 8 men live in one room. Definitely a humbling experience.

Next we visited Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the city. I knew this tour would be hard for us all just feeling overwhelmed and powerless.  Concerned about the children working in factories. The conditions of the workers cutting plastics and dying leather without wearing protective masks. In one area we walked, it was sewer cleaning day. Just so different than our American daily life "problems."  No comparison. Wow.

Toward the end of our visit; and a highlight for me, we went to a school run by an NGO called the Dhavari School. This school was founded and organized by The Art of Living so students not only come to school for half a day; they also receive two meals a day, breakfast and lunch and learn the practice of yoga (to help them balance their lives outside of school along with that within).  As I spoke with the principal about possible opportunities to provide professional development teachers, I glanced to the left and saw a group of kids, about third grade age, completing their Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar).  Possibilities among the despair.

Throughout we were told we could take photos but it's an intimate experience. People are welcoming you into their work and home spaces. I'd rather smile, be polite and learn than snap photos so you'll notice those aren't included.   Definitely a immersion for them and myself, into life in India.

So, they're full on.  Exploring and learning. And I'm loving learning with them, in the taxi, temple and especially on the couch in my living room in India.

1 comment:

  1. Full on!!! hahahha! Such an Indian expression!!