Second Weekend in Bombay :)

This weekend I went to Mumbai via train. The way there, I took the women’s car. The train station itself is a bit of a whirlwind. There is an amazing amount of people hustling and bustling to get to their destinations. I would compare it to at least 20 times more crowded than the most crowded subway platform in New York. It was easy to find people to ask directions, many people speak English, and if not the required words are about the same, or can be understood. The most amazing part was getting on the train. As soon as it pulled into the station women ran, pushed, shoved, all words associated with that in order to get through a small door. Once inside, the pushing began to get to a seat. You weren’t anyone’s friend until you had a seat and there was a space next to you. Women would scream Didi, didi (sister, sister) to get your attention. (As a side note this is one of the things I love about India. Everyone can be your didi, bhai, auntie or uncle to get their attention, or as a sign of respect.) The train was like a sleeper car, except the top bunk was used for 4 or so women to sit. The train wasn’t on at first so it was like a sauna as well. There are pictures to follow to help create a visual. Besides a fight that broke out, which I don’t really feel like getting into, everything was great. The girl next to me, Prianka, was very nice. We shared her crackers and my mints. The women across from me (also on the top bunk) smiled and were very kind (through the language barrier), and the women below us worked on husking some sort of green leaf. It would have been nice to be by a window but it was dark anyway.
It was great to get to Bombay finally. Vipin met me at the station because he teaches a class near by Dadar (the main station in Bombay). He teaches a type of martial art (I’ll remember what it’s called someday) that’s the oldest martial art in the world. It comes from the south of India. I’m sure someone will make a comment on what it’s called. It looks really cool though. I learned of a new fruit, Sitafel. It’s amazing! I had it twice throughout the weekend.
We went to Sandan’s house and hung out with Gurmeet, Roopkarin, and Sandan’s dad – aka Uncle. We ate dinner together, and promptly slept. It felt good to be “home” as they call it for me. It felt good to be around great friends. It’s crazy that at some points in your life you meet people and even though you haven’t known each other very long, you feel like you’ve know them forever. They truly do feel like family already.
Sandan’s dad was in Bombay for a doctor’s appointment. Many people come from various parts of India to the hospital in Bombay to seek second opinions, see a dr, etc. I accompanied them to the dr. All hospitals look the same. We met Salonee after for some lunch, Chinese food, and then got ready for capoeira class. They’re training for the batizado in a few weeks, so class was great, focused on the basics, and made me soooo happy. We hung out in the room for a while after, doing random movements and then we were off to Yaht, the restaurant that they go to after class on Saturdays. Along the way, some of us went to a juice bar where I got another Sitafel. It’s not in season and it’s still really good, I’m excited to try it when it is in season!
We are a very playful bunch, so we can’t, of course, have just a civil meal. It consists of throwing pieces of ice cubes at people, being loud. This week Macaco took some music from me and we recorded it during the rowdiness. At around 1:30 we went back to Sandan’s house and didn’t even sleep then, we watched capoeira videos. The next morning the rest of the guys came over and we ate some food and I was back to Pune.
This time, I hopped in a rickshaw by myself to get to the train station in Andheri, get a ticket to get on the fast train to Dadar, then get a ticket, to wait for the train. It was exciting because it was the first time I was doing all this alone. Although they offered, and Sandan’s dad kind of pushed for someone to accompany me, I did it all alone. I ended up on the women’s car on the local train, which was much more spacious than the general car, I was able to get my ticket, and ended up on the reservation car, not the women’s car for the way to Pune. The intercity trains stop at the same platforms as the city trains, which would be more confusing if they didn’t look different. Of course I made a friend, while making sure that I was getting on the correct train, Rohit. Rohit is studying civil service at the University of Pune. It was nice to have someone to talk to throughout the trip. Mostly we played the game of 20 questions, him asking me many questions about the US. The general reservation car was very similar to the women’s car except there was a bit of cushion on the seats. It didn’t get quite as crowded, but not everyone, including me, had reserved tickets. People stood, smushed into seats, or sat on the floor.
When I finally got home, my landlady and her two sons were sitting and watching TV and made me come in to ask where I had been over the weekend. After a few minutes, of also explaining what capeoira is, I finally reached my bed around midnight and passed out.

The accomplishment of today: I took the bus to work all by myself as well. Although these may seem like small feats, for not speaking more than a few phrases, knowing how complex the public transportation system is, I’ll just go ahead and be impressed with myself.

Also, on another note, for some reason I wasn’t able to upload pictures, so what I will do is post all pictures on facebook and put a link here. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Happy Monday!

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