Mumbai and Aurangabad diaries
When I left Goa, I had this dreadful feeling of going to the big city of Mumbai. I had read and heard so much about the city that I admit, I was a bit scared. The journey (Konkan railways), touted as one of the must take train rides in India did not disappoint. Lush green fields, loads of tunnels, lots of river crossings. To add to it, the monsoon rains. The journey was a visual feast.
Come Mumbai, my fears were still pretty alive. The late night taxi ride from the Victoria terminus to the hostel seemed like any other taxi ride I had taken. What changed my perception was the day after.
Mumbai, the maximum city, the city of dreams. This place has a vibe of its own. What it gives you is a sense of freedom and belonging. There’s something about the plethora of people walking around minding their own business that makes you comfortable. Staying in Colaba area helped me to visit some of the well known places of Mumbai on foot. The famous cafes like cafe Leopold, cafe Mondegar, the iconic Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal hotel, the sprawling CSMV museum, the Jehangir art gallery and of course, the heartwarming Marine drive. More than anything else, what Mumbai gave me was this joy. The joy of being able to be myself without being judged. I understood why so many people end up loving Mumbai. For me the visit to Mumbai was summarised by the time I spent at the Marine drive. Families, friends, couples, elders, kids, teenagers, sitting on the boulevard waiting for the sunset. People being themselves. People living the moment. Mumbai left me with a sense of warmth.
The next leg of my journey took me to Aurangabad. Known for the famous Ajanta and Ellora caves.
Aurangabad feels like any other Indian city. Roads filled with bikes and cars. People going somewhere or the other all the time. At Aurangabad I stayed at Zostel. Zostel is a brand of hostels in India. They have some of the best hostels. The hostels are clean, well maintained and have very well done interiors.
The Aurangabad Zostel was one of the best stays of mine. The people I met there made the time a memorable one. Jasi, the half Punjabi, half German student, Anup the Nepali entrepreneur, Erica the art student/ex medico/ex army personnel from the US, Julia the veterinarian from Germany. Together we had a lot of discussions ranging from politics to the environment to meditation. I learnings I had from these discussions were innumerable.
Ajanta Ellora caves. These places are mind boggling. The efforts that had to be expended in order to create these masterpieces are beyond my human grasp. The Kailash temple at Ellora is in a way dug out of a mountain of rock. The domed roof in some of the caves is symmetric to a fault. I guess the people then were way more persistent than what we are today.
So all in all, these two places were some of the best times I’ve had till now. Mumbai because of the place, Aurangabad because of the people. But what I learned is that people are helpful. They help not because there’s a reward, but because they want to. Like the elderly man who gave me discount coupons at a shoe store or the one who stopped to ask if I want a ride for the next few kilometers. It’s strange how some people offer you a help without you asking for one. Humans aren’t all bad.
After Aurangabad I went to Nagpur where I stayed for a few days. Mostly to catch a train to Kolkata. I’m writing this post from Kolkata. And yes, Kolkata has already been quite an experience. More of that in the next post!