I spent most of the day in the dental office being fitted for new dentures that I will wear until my implants are stable enough to receive crowns. My dentist took at least seven impressions of each arch and then spent an hour making adjustments to the cured latex impressions. My dentist at home, who shall remain nameless here, took only one impression of each arch. Does anyone think that his lack of effort had anything to do with the fit? I left the hotel at 10:30 A.M. and didn’t return until 7:15 P.M. I spent four hours in the office waiting for the impressions to cure between sessions. It was a long day. I was tired and hungry and my mouth hurt when I returned to the hotel.
Pan Singh served my dinner. He is from a part of India near its border with Nepal. He has a wife and three children in his home village, and he not seen them for a year. He will leave on Wednesday for a two month holiday at home. I asked him about the photo thing. He told me that Indians love sharing photos of themselves taken with white people on social media. Maybe I’ll be a Facebook celeb in India.
I did have a chance to walk a bit around Colaba after breakfast and to take some more photos. I call it my morning “drip” because I am always dripping with sweat when I return. Night is the only really comfortable time here.
I found the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India yesterday. It is a magnificent structure with beautiful gardens located near the Taj now known as Chhatrapati Shavaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. It is the main museum here. I can’t go home without a visit. I was by too early yesterday since my appointment with the dentist was at 11:00 and the museum doesn’t open until 10. I see him at 4:30 today so I will have time.
There is a rare public restroom near the gate of the museum. People who live on the street, often women with children, tend to congregate around them as do food merchants selling a bowl of rice for a few rupees. I gave one of them 100 rupees yesterday to serve 10 people. That is about $1.50 and the vendor made money. I hope that it wasn’t the only meal that they had. I see toddlers walking around with exposed genitals. Probably healthier than a diaper that would be impossible to keep clean on the street. The gap between rich and poor is starker here than any place I have ever been. And there are those in my country who would treat our poor the same.
Just returned from the CSMVS. It does not disappoint. I might return and spend another half day. They charge 500 INR for admission and 100 INR to photograph the collections. The total cost in about $10. I took a few hundred photos. I’ll write more about it and post photos when I return from the dentist this evening. I am cooling down and my clothes are drip drying.
I left for the dental office at 2:50 yesterday. The trip took twenty minutes. I was there with Dan Brown’s Inferno until 7:00. The ride back to the hotel took 40 minutes because of the traffic. I saw the dentures that I will wear until I return to have my implants loaded. They are white and perfect, the exact opposite if the ones that my dentist made for me at home. I was told then that dentures didn’t come in a whiter shade.
It is almost 6:00 here and the house crows are announcing the beginning of a new day.
Indian House Crow
They are smaller than our crows, unafraid of people and differently colored. I have heard a sporadic horn instead of the usual cacophony outside. I need to check out before I leave for my 11:00 dental appointment. I’ll stow my luggage in Glenn’s room today. I hired a driver to take me to the airport for 700 INR (about $10) tonight. It is a one hour trip at 10:00 P.M. My flight leaves at 2:25 but I want to see if I can book an earlier return to the US at the Delta desk so I won’t need to clear customs in Amsterdam. I don’t know when Glenn sees the dentist today. He had a root canal done yesterday. I don’t want to take a “drip” since I won’t have a shower of my own or time for my clothes to dry. We did plan dinner later if he is up to it. I’ll change into my cool weather clothes this evening. I brought jeans and a long sleeve top with me. Time to shower before breakfast so that my hair will dry. There are no hair dryers in the rooms here.
I have a little time before breakfast to record a few interesting observations. This city is very dirty due to its poverty and over-population. Everyone must drink bottled water so there are plastic bottles everywhere. The resources and infrastructure cannot support a population of twenty million souls. There is also much wealth here in areas like Bandra West, Mumbai’s gold coast, with its mansions, malls and Rolls Royce limos. The climate is tropical, but I have seen no mosquitoes, few flies and no vermin. The birds are mostly scavengers and I have seen no small reptiles. There are only cats, dogs and cows here. I have more flies in my house when I cook meat. I need to ask the Great Google about this.
The answer is that the insects, like flies and mosquitoes, are well controlled here.
I left the hotel on Thursday in a beat up old taxi with A/C and a bad transmission driven by a man who had ferried me often between the hotel and the dental clinic. I had negotiated a rate of 700 Rupees (about $9.50) for the nearly one hour drive. Aryan delivered me at Terminal 2, the International terminal at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 10:45. I paid him 1000 Rupees (about $16), very reasonable by US standards for an airport transfer, but a very good days work for him. Aryan drove me by the outskirts of one of the largest slums in Mumbai on the way to airport. The experience at night is surreal. It rather reminded me of a few of the more ‘hellish’ scenes from “Apocalypse Now”.
Chhatrapati Shivaji has two huge ultra modern Terminals. It shames every US airport that I have visited. Leaving the country is almost as difficult as entering. There were long queue lines everywhere and it took me two hours to reach the departure lounge. Jet Airways is an Indian owned partner of Delta and KLM. It owns a modern fleet of Airbuses. I flew on one that could hold up to 475 passengers. I was almost pinned to the seat during takeoff by the thrust of its four engines. We departed Mumbai on schedule at 2:25 A.M. (about 5 P.M. EST, 19 May). The route included flyovers of Pakistan, Afganistan, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey at 38,000 feet.
We arrived in Amsterdam around 7 A.M. CEST (10:30 in Mumbai and 1:00 A.M. in Detroit). I picked up my checked bag after a long wait and made my way through Dutch immigration and customs to the KLM counter and another queue line. I was able to buy a ticket for a flight leaving at 1:20 yesterday, May 20. We left on time which was 1:20 P.M. CEST, then almost 4:00 P.M. in Mumbai and 6:30 A.M. in Detroit.
We landed in Detroit around 3:30 EST. Arriving passengers must go through immigration, customs and another security check by DHS including scans of all checked through baggage. The DHS officer asked me if I had any agricultural products and other things on my bags from India. I told him that I had some spices and an amethyst geode.
He had no idea what a geode is, and seemed genuinely curious, so I found it my bag and opened it for him. I was hoping that he would ask me about the source of the spice. I would have told him that it is the worm. I had my third body scan of the day and found the gate for my connection to Atlanta. I arrived back in Charleston in the rain on May 20 at 10:20 P.M., still the same day that I left India and only about 21.5 hours later, but more than thirty hours in real time. I had traveled more than 10,000 miles with four lauches and and landings. I finally went to bed at 2:00 this morning but awoke at 6:00 anyway. I have showered and washed my hair, had breakfast out, did the grocery shopping, did two loads of laundry, some hand washing and cleaned the kitchen floor. Everything is unpacked and put away and it is only 1:00 P.M. here, but it is 7:00 P.M. in Amsterdam and 10:30 P.M. in Mumbai. Hey Burnsy: g’night Mate. Maybe I should try to sleep now, too.