It’s only been two days but I already have so much to say about India and my experiences in Mumbai!
Straight from the airport we were shuttled to our hotel, the beautiful Sai Palace. It’s one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in and the service is great! In the car over I immediately noticed what I had frequently heard about India, which is that it’s common to see an average or modern building side by side with literal broken sidewalk, trash and rubble on the very same street. The next day I also saw tons of people scattered about the city, presumably living on the streets and in every crevice. It was disheartening to say the least, but some of what I had expected of the city.
What has really come as a culture shock in just three days since living in Mumbai are my struggles to adjust to dressing myself and the food. Mumbai is known for its sweltering heat and we’ve arrived on the eve of monsoon season. The air is thick and humid yet you’ll easily find men in button up shirts (short sleeved) and women in head to toe kurtas and saris. I came to India knowing that I would have to dress conservatively but I didn’t know that that meant no bare shoulders allowed and pants or clothing that goes to your knees are preferred. It is also quite contradictory to what we’ve seen in Bollywood films. Women in Hindi cinema often wear clothing with exposed skin but I’ve yet to see it in person.
So far I’ve eaten food at my hotel, at High Point (a vegetarian restaurant), the Whistling Woods International School cafeteria and at Maharaja Bhog (a thali vegetarian restaurant) and I’ve never missed meat so much! I have always loved Indian food in the states but I’ve mostly eaten tandoori chicken and other dishes with rice. Authentic Indian food that I’ve had in Mumbai has so far consisted of naan, roti, and other breads (which I’m obsessed with!!) potatoes and chickpeas as well as various other spicy vegetable dishes and they often mix savory with sweet in one meal. Also, a lot of restaurants are vegetarian because of the dietary restrictions of some religions, such as not being able to eat pork or beef. It’s all mostly delicious but it’ll definitely take a little bit of adjusting to get used to.
More to come soon!