The first day in Mumbai we had no idea what to expect and as our day unfolded it became clear that expectations are completely useless. Our first morning started out by planning to take a forty-five minute cab ride to the south end of the city to see the Gateway of India and the caves at Elephanta Island. Overhearing our conversation at the hostel a man named Steve asked if he could join us, so we of course said yes. To our surprise the taxi was actually an Uber car. On the way we had a nice conversation with Steve and learned that he had been teaching English in the central part of China for the last two years.
Soon upon arriving at the Gateway of India the four of us were asked to pose for pictures by some locals. Little did we know that many more groups of people would ask to take pictures. It was very odd to feel like we were celebrities and we didn’t want to say no to anybody. Whole families were posing for pictures as well as large groups of children, Tash even held a baby! After thirty minutes of taking pictures Tash felt overwhelmed by the whole experience and said that it was “very humbling”.
Next on our list was a one hour boat ride to Gharapuri (now Elephanta Island), where there are caves that were created sometime around late 5th to late 8th century AD. As we were standing in line to board the boat, a woman asked us where we purchased our tickets. Tash being kind-hearted walked the woman, Alice, with her two children Michael and Greta to show them the way. Alice wasn’t feeling comfortable traveling to the island alone so we invited them to join along and our group of four turned into seven! The entire boat ride to the island Tash and I talked with Alice and we had fun learning more about each other. Her family lives in Portugal and by the end of our time together she invited us to stay with them if we were to ever go visit! It looks like Portugal just got added to the list!!
On the way to the caves we walked up two hundred steps that were narrowed by vendors selling informational books, bracelets and small statues. There were many monkeys throughout the area and I saw a few that had stolen water bottles and were drinking out of them. Once inside the caves, we saw large columns carved out of rock and beautiful statues with the depictions of the Hindu god Shiva.
Our boat arrived back in Mumbai around 5pm and the four of us decided to take a train back to our hostel. On our walk to the train station we heard some loud music playing so we took a detour and followed our ears. We ended up walking into a three man drum circle with lots of people dancing. Tash and Jolene actually danced for a little while and it seemed to please the locals. While we were detoured we grabbed some last minute dinner and continued on our way. The central Mumbai train station is very large and confusing but we found some Indian men who pointed us in the right direction. However, what they didn’t tell me was that there are separate train cars for women. I didn’t figure out I was on the wrong car until after I received a disgusted looking face from a little girl!!
We met so many wonderful people on our first day, it was definitely a great way to start our travels!!