>Travel Pictures


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 them:

Around home

But the branches themselves can be quite spectacularly beautiful. These are spiny, flowering vines very similar to those that are everywhere in San 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.

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 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.

The cardboard recycling men were hard at work

Of course, some businesses use human power rather than beasts of burden to carry their wares

Behind the garishly-decorated taxis that crowd the streets, we crawled past people just trying to make it in the city of dreams.

The oil truck takes on a different look, as the ox drawn carts are everywhere in the midst of traffic, slowing things down even further

And these workers often have very little to look forward to in terms of going home. Many migrant workers set up shelters along the sides of the roads.

Of course, those with shelter are the lucky ones. There are families who have no roof over their heads at all and have to make the best of things out in the open. Once the monsoons come, life for them will become even more miserable.

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 through.

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