My India – 1 of 7

Day 1 is preceded by a day 0 made up of travel. The 9-hour flight turns into a 14-hour exercise thanks to the 5-hour layover in Istanbul, where we grab a box of baklava to make up for the inconvenience; granted, it is not as good as Dedeoglu’s but it’s way better than anything we get in Italy.

Factor in the 3.5 hour time difference and the transfers to/from airports means we left home at 7AM and did not check in in our hotel until 6:30AM the following day, pretty exhausting!

As anticipated, weather is very different from what we left (10 °C vs 27 °C) and this (late) morning we went for some sightseeing with Elena and Olga and Mahdi, our friendly driver who intermittently speaks english.

The sheer size of Mumbai is awesome: 20 million people live here, and while you see a lot of them around, I never felt the same human density I felt in Bangkok for example, which must mean its extension is immense! We went to see the High Court, the Central Railway Station, the Gate to India among other things:

I will not deny that even in the central area we visited poverty is everywhere: beggars, kids, salesmen and saleswomen of almost every conceivable item camped just about everywhere.

Driving relies on incessant use of the horn to underline your feelings at others’ driving skills ranging from a mild discomfort to the threat of ritual assassination; the resulting din is pretty obnoxious but after a while it fades in the background.

We even went to the Towers of Silence, where the dead of the Parsi are exposed to sun and vultures to be consumed as their religion dictates; I must say it took us a while to figure all of this out: Mahdi did not know much and a lot of people we stopped for directions pointed us repeatedly to a place where there is nothing.

In fact we were seeing what is permitted to see (entry or photography are strictly forbidden) but did not recognize the place for what it is, as the flat tops of the dakhmas are hidden from our gazes by thick vegetation.

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