Meeting of Cultures
We were travelling with an English family with 4 very blonde children aged 6 - 16 years.
As we left the caves I became aware that a small group of about 7/8 Indian youths were following us.
I was the only adult close to the children and lingered to keep an eye on them - but all the lads wanted was to have their photograph taken with the little blondies.
I, we all, had such a lot of happy fun taking the photos - on the cameras the Indian boys offered - but I really regret not having a pictiure of that happy, spontaneous friendly gathering myself.
So - if people stare - don't run away - they most probably want to be friends!
Mumbai offers the avid food junkie everything from vada paav, a streetside delicacy, to the best in French cuisine, served in fancy restaurants, with even fancier names. Breakfast timings are usually from 6.30 am -10.30 am, lunch between 12.00 Noon -3.30 pm & dinner from 7.30 pm -1am. (there are tons of eateries open 24-7 as well)
1.Freshly cooked food is safest.
2.Ice can be suspect, especially if it has arrived in a block carried on a bicycle and dropped off on the street in front of the restaurant.
3.Quite a few travelers avoid meat in India, reasoning that meat is more likely to be off, or make you sick. India has probably the best vegetarian cuisine in the world, so this is no hardship. However, if your diet does include meat you may not want to miss some of the excellent meat dishes you can get here. As a rule, though, don't do your meat ordering in the lower end restaurants or station platforms.
4.Keep your finger nails short and clean. Wash your hands frequently, and especially before you eat. Even the dirtiest drive will have a place to wash hands, though they may not have soap. Carry some with you, though you can usually get someone to deliver a tiny sliver of soap, or a bit of liquid or powdered dish soap if you protest long enough. I see this as a service to other patrons, and have noticed that more and more restaurants, even on the low end, are trying to supply soap.
Holi - the festival of colors!
The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year.
Originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land, Holi is now a symbolic commemmoration of a legend from Hindu Mythology. The story centres around an arrogant king who resents his son Prahlada worshipping Lord Vishnu. He attempts to kill his son but fails each time. Finally, the king's sister Holika who is said to be immune to burning, sits with the boy in a huge fire. However, the prince Prahlada emerges unscathed, while his aunt burns to death. Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation.
This exuberant festival is also associated with the immortal love of Krishna and Radha, and hence, Holi is spread over 16 days in Vrindavan as well as Mathura - the two cities with which Lord Krishna shared a deep affiliation.
Apart from the usual fun with coloured powder and water, Holi is marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and a general sense of abandoned vitality.
Don't forget to visit places around Mumbai...
Many tourists travelling to India stop for a day or two in Mumbai. They spend most of their time visiting the touristy destinations in the north or the south. They can also utilize their time in Mumbai better by visiting some of the loveliest places I have ever visited. Since Mumbai is India's financial capital and many wealthy people live there. A lot of places around Mumbai have been developed for these people to chill out. Most of these are na tural scenic places developed during British period. If you are in Mumbai by any chance, don't get trapped in the pollution of the city. Make sure you venture out to atleast one of the nearby places. There are some web sites that rpovide information on such destinations. I found mumbai-tours.com very useful. You can find others if you search online. The places around Mumbai are cool especially during monsoon that is Jun to Sept.
The tourist destinations in the north and south are very commercialised. If you are looking for some change, I guess visiting places around mumbai will be the best thing to do. That is what I have learned after my four trips to India :)
Keneri Caves Lingam
Our cab driver, one morning in Bombay, suggested that we visit the Keneri Caves, about an hour north from Juhu Beach. This is a series of caves, carved out of a rock hillside by monks, centuries ago. The cab driver suggested that we might have lunch with the guru who now lives there. Well, we couldn't pass up having lunch with the guru! :)
The caves were well worth the visit, and we were pleased to be the only westerners there. It wasn't very crowded, but what visitors there were, were Indian. We didn't find the guru, but that was fine -- we had a good time without him.