A MURDER OF HOUSE CROWS

I slept poorly last night. I should never drink caffeinated drinks after 4 pm. It is 6 am in Mumbai. The house crows have begun the morning cacophony to greet the day but it still seems dark to me. I will likely take a nap during the heat of the day. I have a dental appointment at 1:00 pm so I’ll leave at noon. It’s a 30-minute drive in good traffic from Colaba to Malabar Hills. I forgot to mention that I have seen more swastikas since I became aware of their presence. There are two in the museum that I noticed, one on an exhibit and another incorporated into the architecture.

I am taking doxycycline to prevent malaria. It is an effective anti-malarial but it is causing gastritis, a symptom of which is gnawing abdominal pain that is sometimes relieved by eating. I have decided that the risk of contracting malaria is low since I’ll not travel outside the city. Besides, it is the dry season and the authorities do a good job of locating and removing reservoirs for breeding mosquitoes.

Breakfast is done. There were cakes that looked like pancakes so I took one to try.

INDIAN PANCAKE

One of the servers brought me a bowl of something made to eat with the cakes. He said that it was coconut but it was salty and hot. I would have preferred jelly or brown sugar both of which were available.

I spent three more hours in the dentist chair this afternoon. None of those chairs are made for anyone my height, so it curves in the chair hit my back in all of the wrong places. I paid the driver when we returned to the hotel and walked over to the café for a chocolate-malted and chocolate tart. Two women came in wearing hijabs and sat near me. There were men across the room, some wearing topis. There are several rug merchants nearby. I think that this part of Mumbai must be the Arab sector. So, I checked it out with the “Great Google.”

I found a lengthy passage in an old book titled The Origin of Bombay. Bombay was once a group of islands in the Arabian Sea. It is now connected to mainland India. It has been ruled by Iran, Portugal, Britain and others. Colaba was one of the original islands and was divided into north and south Colaba. I am staying in that part of Colaba once called north Colaba. The area to the south is occupied mostly by the military of India now. The area surrounding present day Mumbai has been inhabited for thousands of years although there is no evidence that it was known to the Romans or Greeks. Bombay has been strategically important because of its nature bay for more than five hundred years, and there have been Arab traders living here since before that.

I paid for my snack and drink when I had finished and returned to the hotel. I fell asleep and was awakened when Ram arrived to do the massage that I scheduled last night. I had lactic acid deposits in my feet and calves. He dispersed them and, yes, it was very painful. He did deep tissue massage on my back and shoulders. I feel great so I scheduled a return visit for Friday evening.

After comp breakfast. Today, there were the usual hard-fixed, scrambled and boiled eggs. They will also be cooked to order. Then they had sweet rice with peanuts which I had to remove since I still have no teeth. There were two kinds of Indian bread and regular bread for toast. There were baked beans and fries. That must be an English thing. There was guava and watermelon and orange juice, coffee, black tea or milk tea. My favorite was the very thin pancakes rolled over and stuffed with spicy veggies. As usual, the waiters hovered over to fetch anything that I wanted because I always tip them with a 100 INR note ($1.50). I don’t see the Asians tipping them. Most of the Asian guests are Arab.

I have commented about this before, but I have never seen women working in a hotel. There are men everywhere. Six men work the small dining room each morning. There must be three men to clean rooms and provide service on my floor and there are only seven rooms. I have them clean it every other day and tip them 100 INR. There are three men wearing military-style uniforms and either berets or turbans. They open and close the door and help with bags. I tipped them when I arrived and I will do the same when I leave. I don’t tip them every time they open a door. There are always money-changers about.

INDIAN RUPEES

I had less that $100 in rupee this morning and I plan to take the day out. I asked the doorman about the money-changer and had a seat on the terrace. He was there in less than five minutes. The exchange rate is between 67 and 68 INR per USD today. He gave me 65, so he made about 2-3% for the service. The business of India seems to be commerce and personal service. It is a patriarchal society. Perhaps they can curb the birth rate by reversing things. If women worked and men stayed home, there would be fewer babies and less poverty. But, hey, it is their country and they should run it as they see fit.

India is like a fruit pantry. There are coconut and date palms full of fruit. I asked about the coconut trees which lean over street laden with large nuts. If they fall and hit you or your car it is the will of Vishnu, Shiva, Allah or some other deity. I am fairly certain that coconut trees are not permitted to line streets in the U.S. Perhaps our deities are less powerful. I also see lemon trees, mangoes, papayas and the oft-mentioned figs. The lemons are very small and thin-skinned but juicier and better flavored than the ones grown for shipping in the U.S.

I returned to Elephanta Island today.

SCULPTURE OF SHIVA ON ELEPHANTA ISLAND

The air was very hazy and visibility on the water was poor so I took no photos from the boat. The ride is an hour each way. I did see that one of India’s two aircraft carriers was docked in the navy yard. When we landed, I took the train powered by a four-cylinder gasoline engine, paid the five rupee arrival tax and began the climb up the steps to the top. I did not go into the cave area since I was there last May. My reason for being there was to shop for a geode. I found what wanted and began the trip back. I bought a rather large one. I haven’t weighed it but I am guessing that it weighs between ten and fifteen pounds. I brought one back last May. The ICE agent in Detroit had no idea what a geode is and I suppose that I’ll need to explain it again in Charlotte. Geodes form due to an air bubble trapped in lava. Crystals form over time, the usual ones being quartz or amethyst. They are millions of years old in many instances.

GEODE

Back to the subject of aircraft carriers, only nine countries have any in service.

AIRCRAFT CARRIER

The US has as many carriers in service as the rest of the world combined, being ten. We have one in reserve, two under construction, fifty-six decommissioned carriers and twelve never completed. So, why do we need more carriers than we already have. Herr Gropenfuhrer would increase the size of our navy. I wonder if he owns any stock int he companies that bid on naval contracts?

I’m still having problems with this old computer. I hoped that it would get me home. It is a seven-year-old Acer with windows 7. I may go dark and need to buy a new one here. If I am offline for awhile, you will know why. I am having trouble posting anything very long because the box won’t let me see the entire text of the message. Only about three lines are visible to me until I post it. Does anyone have any suggestions? Something else that I learned today. The best time to use the net is after midnight in Mumbai. Internet connections are lost due to heavy volume of use during the work day. I have no photos from today, but I have the next two days off from the dentist. My next appointment is Monday at 4 pm, so I’ll go back to Chhatrapati Shivaji and then I’ll see the Museum of Modern Art.

I have this machine set up the way that I want it and connectivity and speed are both increased now. I slept for three hours from 9-12. My circadian rhythm is a mess!

There are “shades of color” discrimination in India. Some Indians are European light, some are African dark and others are every shade between them. The only Indians depicted in their movies or commercials are European light Indians. Because I didn’t feel well today, I spent the day in my room watching movies and when I sleep in a strange place, I always explore escape routes in case of fire. I have a window in the corner of my room that slides open. It is big enough to walk through. There is a large ledge about four feet below it and a fig tree next to it. My plan is to collect my handbag, my money belt and leave by the window.

Then, I wondered how fires can be fought here. I have never seen a fire hydrant or a fire house. Many of the streets are so narrow and the traffic so heavy that a pumper truck would never get here anyway. The street in front of the hotel is blocked at one end due to a storm sewer replacement project and the street in front is narrow with parking on both sides and taxis usually double-parked. There are one set of stairs and two elevators. People on the upper floors could burn to death. The learning curve here is that one should always request a room on the lowest floor and plan an escape. [NOTE: When I looked for hydrants, I did see a few.]