5th view of Life in Bombay
Like the other Life in Bombay pages
(titled - imaginatively enough - 1st
view, 2nd view, 3rd
view and 4th view of life
in Bombay), this one is noteworthy because of its 'normalness.' These are
things we see every day; we just don't always have a camera handy to document
There are lots of other ways to make
a living right near our house. In addition to the horse-riding franchise,
the gas man is always a welcome sight. Pedaling his bicycle loaded with
propane around, he switches out the tanks when the oven runs dry.
He has stopped at the local chewing tobacco/betel nut mix shop, run by
the guy behind him sitting on the counter. India does not have a lot of
smokers (at least compared with Serbia), but many of the men do chew a
red colored tobacco and ground nut mix, necessitating the kind of sign
that should be obvious in a government building!
But the branches themselves can be quite
spectacularly beautiful. These are spiny, flowering vines very similar
to those that are everywhere in
Pedro Sula, Honduras. Breck and dad took this photo right outside the
house walking back from Baskin Robbins one evening.
We have lots of tree-dwelling creatures
living in our neighborhood: crows, kites, parrots, egrets, bats, and these
pigeons. It can get right noisy on all those branches!
This is a local entrepreneur who makes
his living giving horse rides to local kids. We've never hired him, but
we have seen him near our house on several occasions.
But our favorite haunt near our house
is the local schwarma stand called Carter's Blue. Breck loves to 'go get
schwirms,' as he says, even if he doesn't eat them himself. These guys
know Susan and Dave by now, and know that we always order 2 regular (for
Dave) and 1 meat only (for Susan).
To and From School
Just because an awful lot of what we typically
see happens on our rides to and from school, here is another collection
from a couple days' travel. Our school is located in a part of town called
- you guessed it - Bandra Kurla Complex. Above is the welcome sign to this
suburb loaded with new, shiny glass faced office complexes.
Getting there as early as we do in
the morning (around 7:20), we usually pass many people still asleep on
the sidewalks along the way (above left). Some of the early risers who
are hard at work are the truck drivers (above right) who ply the streets
in their multicolored god-ornamated trucks. When we get to the school,
there are usually a number of stray dogs waiting for the buses. Despite
Mumbai's large dog population, nobody really proposes doing anything to
permanently solve the problem - there is a much ballyhooed initiative afoot
to sterilize them, but many people (including soft-hearted teachers!) still
feed and encourage the dogs to hang out. Once we are at school, the flags
standing in our cafeteria remind us of just how international a working
environment this is!
As we tumble into our buses on the way
home from school, we do feel fortunate that we don't have to rely on Mumbai's
overstraining public transportation. We often sit next to these guys at
lights and certainly don't envy them
We also count our blessings in other
ways. These apartments, while colorful with hanging laundry in every window,
are certainly not as comfortable as our own. We also see what passes in
Bombay for a wheelchair - worked with a bicycle pedal used by the hands.
We see a number of these around, and it wasn't until it was pointed out
by a colleague that we realized what was going on: these are used by people
who suffered from polio and lost the use of their legs. Because polio has
been virtually eradicated in north America, we didn't even think about
it (yet there are articles in the newspaper on a weekly basis about outbreaks
in one place or another).
And we can certainly understand why
that might be so. Taking an alternate route while one of the main roads
is being repaired, we pass a slum where - every time we've gone - there
are children using the side of the road as their personal urinals. It is
not difficult to image that they - with their heads shaved for lice - probably
have never received any of the childhood vaccines that we take for granted.
Trip to the FRRO
Our visas are good for one year, and
because we got them last spring, we had to take another trip to the FRRO
(like we made when we first got here)
to get them extended. Going downtown always gives us another glimpse of
all the stories swirling around this city, and this trip was no different.
As we turned the corner, however,
I saw the steps that officials were taking. Along a whole stretch of road,
the lean-tos and shelters that people had set up - illegally to be sure,
but these were their homes - had be demolished. While some had re-erected
flimsy tents, it was evident that this was a campaign intended to drive
some of the migrant workers off the streets.
Even more permanent buildings that were
encroaching on the right of way had been ripped in half.
For block after block, this continued,
and then we passed the area where current demolition was taking place.
There were police all over to keep people away, and the backhoes were warming
up for the task. I wonder what the area will look like on our next trip
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