Tuesday 26 April 2011

Out of order ...

... I've managed to get our India adventures out of order - but it doesn't really matter.  I told you yesterday about our Saturday outing to Chor Bazaar and the Hanging Gardens.

So today I'll tell you about Good Friday, which was our 10th wedding anniversary (and I showed you the card that I made for Jonathan).  Now I happened to mention to one of the young ladies at Reception on Thursday 21st that Friday was a special day for us.  She remembered it.  And on Friday morning at breakfast we were given a super cake.  All the staff gathered round, lit a candle on the cake and wished us a very happy day - and many more happy years to come!  It was such a lovely surprise and it tasted wonderful :)

Good Friday is a Bank holiday in Mumbai (not sure about the rest of India, it seems that regions pick their own holidays), anyway, as a result, it meant that Jonathan was able to spend the day with us.  So Jonathan took us out to Bandra.

We left the hotel reasonably early and headed towards the railway station.  Jonathan thought that we'd get a better understanding and feel for India by using the train.  He was absolutely right - it's quite an experience, but it's been done now.  No need to do it again!!

After we left Bandra station we headed up some stairs to an overhead walkway.   A great idea - superb views - but mostly it meant we didn't have to try and cross the roads!!  Always a bit hairy!  Jonathan thought we were heading towards one of the main shopping roads, but we took a wrong turn and ended up a bit lost.  So we took a "put-put" - a tiny three-wheeled taxi - and decided to have a look at some churches in the area.

St Andrew's Church (left) was built in 1575 by Portuguese Jesuits - it's an amazingly beautiful church.  And, at the time of our visit, was in use for Easter services, so we were unable to go inside.  However, we were able to walk around the Church grounds and look at the graveyard.  On the gravestones the names were a mixture of Indian and Portuguese.  It was really strange.

Next we walked along the promenade.  We took a number of photos on the way.  At first the shore line was rather nice (still lots of rubbish about, but relatively tidy).  There were boats in the sea and some people were walking about on the rocks.

However, further down the walk we reached an area of slum housing (which you can see in the photo).  By this time, it also became quite obvious that the water pools were not just water.  In fact in many places they were open toilets.  I think this is the first time that we really became aware of the serious poverty here in India.  These people have nothing.  They made their homes out of what they found on the shoreline and, like the men in this photo, they bathed in the sea.  There were people washing their clothes in the sea too - and leaving them to dry on the rocks.  We all found it quite shocking.

Finally, we walked up quite a steep hill (remember it was really, really hot) to reach the magnificent Mount Mary Church (left).  Again, there had been a morning service and it looked like it was going to be busy all day.  In front of the Church are a number of stalls from which local people buy candles to burn.  The Church that stands on the site is relatively new, but there has been a church in the area for hundreds of years.

In front of the Church there is a Statue of Mary which has been housed in a special shrine.  We climbed to the top - the views from here would once have been quite spectacular and, in many ways, they still are.

Many people had already been to the Shrine and placed candles there to burn and prayed to the Statue.  The place had a calm, quiet feeling to it.

After spending some time here, we walked further into Bandra - a really lovely place.  There were many very nice apartment blocks in the area and some houses too.  Bandra has become very popular with the rich and upcoming people - apparently Bandra is the place to be seen!

On the main shopping road there were some wonderful jewellery and fashion shops, but sadly (for me) by that time we were in a taxi on our way back to the hotel.   I think Jonathan was quite pleased that we were in the taxi.  It was a fascinating visit and an eye-opening one too.  I think after this visit we are all very aware of just how lucky we are in the West.

Here's Kathryn just after we got back to the hotel.  The ladies on reception (Customer Services) are always dressed in the most gorgeous clothes.  And on Friday they were in red and looked stunning, so I had to take a photo.

That's all for now.  I think I've brought us up to date.  Yesterday was a very lazy day - spent in the hotel.  Not sure what we're going to do today - but I'll be back soon.


Paula (PEP) said...

How delightful that the Reception ladies thought to organize a cake for you & to mark the day. This is really turning into quite a blog diary of your India trip - lovely to have to look back on & if it's an eye-opener to me it must be even more so for you experiencing all these things first hand.
Paula (PEP)

Stella said...

That cake looks delicious; such a lovely surprise!

The slum housing...it's quite a contrast with us living in Europe. Looking at your pictures I can see that Mumbai is gorgeous. But there is another side too; If Iwould see the slum housing IRL I would be shocked too. And again; it makes me thankful for everything I have. Things we consider normal here are out of reach for so many people.....

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