Day one I arrive in Mumbai India Airport. I come directly from a cruise ship I’m working in the Caribbean so 36 hours of travel. The last twenty or so hours took me from logan Airport in Boston through Frankfort Airport to Mumbai Airport. The flights were not bad I ponied up the extra money for the exit row AKA the poor man’s first class. I planned to buy a sim card so my phone would work in India when I arrived at the airport. Unfortunately, one bit of information I did not learn in my research was that it would take 24 hours to have my sim card activated proving that you really can’t learn everything on Utube. My “B” plan was to use the airport WIFI and my WhatsApp to contact the tour promoter to arrange ground transportation to my motel. Of course, to activate your free airport Wifi, they need to text you the confirmation code to your phone which in my case will not be activated until tomorrow. So when Plan A and Plan B don’t work it’s time to improvise. I see a Starbucks outside the airport and as coffee drinker knows every Starbucks has free WiFI. Except for Mumbi Airport. OK, I throw myself on the mercy of the guy behind the counter who very generously lets me borrow his phone. I call the Promoter who answers the phone and arranges a cab for pick up! Good news I get a ride to the hotel bad news I get a ride to the Hotel. The hotel is squirreled in the back of an industrial park and it’s a dump. I get in my room start trying to unpack still no WIFI. I go down to the front desk and the guy informs me that American devices will not work with Mumbai WIFI. This is the first lie of the evening. I go up stars planning to just crash and sort everything in the morning. When I pull back covers is see little dots moving around on my bed and after putting on my reading glasses I realize they are bugs. Now as a married man I have taken an oath to never sleep with creatures that find me remotely attractive. I pack my bags and exit the room like it is on fire. When I get to the front desk I need to convince the front desk to let me use his computer so I can find new less populated
logging. All the while he is trying to convince me that all other hotels are too far or not any better than where I’m at now. At one point he says how do you know they where bed bugs to which I reply all I know is they are bugs that are living in your bed. He finally lets me write down the address of a Ramada Inn type hotel and call me a cab. When it arrives It is a tuk-tuk or a motorized rickshaw. Now as tired as I am and as freaked out by my inability to communicate with anyone and the bugs that living in the bed, I loved my first motorized rickshaw ride. Now I asked the driver to take me to one hotel and of course, he brings me to another more expensive hotel. According to my Utube research, this is a common scam by cab drivers. As I enter the Renaissance Marriot in Mumbai I’m too exhausted to really haggle or argue anymore and thankfully I don’t have to this hotel is wonderful. It takes a bit of calculation from rubies to US dollars to figure out the actual cost. It turns out the room will cost about $120 / $125 in US dollars with a buffet I feel pretty safe about eating provided each morning. I would not be able to get this in Boston for even one night so I’m thrilled.
Ok day one in the country: Vinayak the comedian who organized the tour catches up with me and we end up going out to get my phone working with new sim card and we also get a transformer so I will be able to charge all my devices. Vinayak and I get to see a bit of Mumbai and learn that in Mumbai the UBEr service is a best a little dodgy if your driver misses you they will cancel you and keep driving so the best place to get Uber’s service is at Hotels where it is easy for drivers to pick you up and drop you off without too much confusion. I also feel that the Auto Rickshaws can be cheaper and it is an adventure.
Day two: Day two Vinayak and I go south of the city to have lunch to meet up with a comedian who also produces some things in Mumbai. Our guise is a very pleasant guy who shows us a few galleries and gives us a quick tour we have lunch we opt for pizza. I need up having a lot of pizza and pastries during my time in Mumbai my theory being baked goods will be less likely to give me digestive issues. I should say at this point I did go to a travel clinic before and they gave me shots for typhoid, Malaria and several blood diseases I can’t remember. Because of where I was planning on traveling I did not need to get a yellow fever shot. The reason I share my inoculation tale is that it does make me a little wary of what I eat and drink while in India.
Next stop is Gateway of India which was constructed for the welcome of Queen Mary the Queen of England and while amusing Vinayak and I get a kick out of the fact that people stop me to ask for pictures of me based on my esteem height 6’6” and my pale skin I must look like bigfoot to the people at the India Gate.
We stop at a museum and the art and sculptures are an amazing combination of art and history. While taking in the sites and looking off the balcony Vinayak brings my attention to a large fruit bat that has landed on the tree it was amazing. I’m sorry to report that I did not get a picture but glad to report that I do not believe that fruit bats drink blood or explode in the sun like their vampire cousins.
Now we were informed that it would be impossible to travel from south Mumbai to north Mumbai until after 8 pm that traffic is just crazy. We decided to investigate the Malaxmi Dobi Ghat the Guinness Book of world records largest hand washes laundry s in the world. Now if you are reading this please don’t share this part of the story with my wife who would be shocked to find out that I traveled around the world to see the worlds largest hand wash laundry mat. This open-air laundry mat is over 125 years old and is the last place on earth you want to lose a sock. I feel I should also feel I should mention that the taxi driver did bring us to the wrong open-air laundry and tried to pawn it off as the site we requested and after much arguing and haggling Vinayak was able to get out the driver to bring us to the correct site.
Needless to say, we part ways with our angry and shiftless driver and discover and after taking the wonder of open-air laundry Vinayak and I find our selves on foot during the height of rush hour. This is more than just inconvenient it feels a little dangerous as Vinayak and I navigate ourselves through the ultimate odd couple Vinayak and me the Albino Sasquatch from the west. After a couple, mile march through some dodgy neighborhoods and a mild case of Mumbai swamp ass we decide to grab a bite to eat at the four seasons and wait out the rush hour. We eat guzzle bottled water and separate for a shower and some sleep, Vinayak for an open mike.
Vinayak and I decide to take a Safari north of Mumbai at the Kanheri Caves. We take cab about 45 minutes drive North of my hotel where we hire a guide who will join us on our adventure. He explains that 46 Jaguars share this small piece of Jungle located with only a wall separating jungle from a fairly populated area. I ask oUr guide if we will get a chance to see leopards. He says it is not likely. We do get to see a couple of Bengal Tigers in the enclosure and a variety of monkeys that I love. Then we drive up to the caves. The caves have rooms and temples that have been carved not the mountainside over 1000 years ago. The caves are amazing our guide is knowledgeable and there is plenty of wildlife and just enough mosquitos to make me glad I’m taking malaria pills. We ended our fourth day with two shows and met some nice comedians and audience members.
Now the rest of the tour was a blur of airplanes and taxis and also some great comedians and wonderful audience members. The last tow show had big turnouts and amazing the audiences were a blast! I would like to just say that India has a wonderful scene of talented comedians if you get a chance you should check them out! I would also like to thank Vinkyak Pal and the team at Counter Culter agency for putting this tour together.
Acts we worked within India that are worth checking out! I hope I got everyone’s name correct.
Sorabh Pant – Mumbai
Aadar Malik – Delhi
Sundeep Rao – Bangalore
Anirban DasGupta – Kolkata