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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Eye-opening

We have safely arrived in Mumbai or Bombay as all of my family and most locals still call it! The airport and plane were pain-free... I spent the 9 hours watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Pride and Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightley) and my first ever episode of Downton Abbey! My bag had to be searched at the airport because I although I took my laptop out, I put it underneath in the tray which apparently doesn't work!

Immigration was quick but our bags took a long time to come through and the generator kept switching off! We then had our taxi ride to the hotel... It was one of the most interesting drives I have ever had.

I love this city already. It may have been 2.30 in the morning but there was something so alive about the streets. It probably helped that as they are 5.5 hours ahead here, Mum and I were wide awake too. As we drove through the streets it just felt like there was so much energy. People were working by the roadside, one old lady was out relaxing on her balcony, horns were beeping, people were out on bikes...

If you never thought an urban concrete jungle could be called beautiful, think again. Perhaps not in the classical sense of the word or the way that we're used to, but it is undeniable. Between the peeling paint, the rust, the buildings stacked on top of each other haphazardly in a way that makes you wonder how they're standing and the very tangible history of it all, it is stunning. It is a very personal place, you can see from first glance that millions of stories are held within the walls, all of them so different to the life I have known.

There is, of course, plenty of grandeur, highlighting the divide of wealth that has always been here. Our hotel, the Taj Mahal is beyond words. Huge, sweeping staircases, intriguing and exquisite Indian art and sculptures, plush rugs. The outside of the building is just as grand with it's classical Indian architecture (think pointed arches, swirls and lattice). The greatest beauty is definitely beyond the windows though. Here was my view when I woke up this morning. I can't begin to describe the noise, smell and heat that went with it. Bombay is unique, that's for sure.

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