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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review & Realization

Book Review: Last night I finished a really good book called Secret Daughter, by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.  First of all, I enjoyed it being a clean book (no sexually explicit situations or swearing).  But it was a great read about two mothers and a daughter, and the things they face separately but together.  It was based in San Francisco, CA and Mumbai, India.  And if you know me, you know I'm interested in almost anything Indian!  It also includes a glossary of Hindi terms in the back, in case you are unsure of what those words mean.  I won't say much else, other than it was very well written, had a great ending, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good story to enjoy!

Realization: So, this book has led me to a great realization.  Both joyful and sad.  The joyful part is that once I found the Hindi glossary in Secret Daughter, I skimmed through it, and realized that I didn't need it.  I knew almost all of the Hindi words that were used in the story.  Which led me to see that I have truly learned a lot of Hindi, more than I previously thought.  Then I started to cry.  Why you ask?  Because I spent a lot of money and time going to Mumbai, India last month, and didn't even get to put any of it to use. I fell into an insecure American tourist mindset, and forgot that God has helped me learn so much more than I realized.  So, before we take another trip there, I plan to make some serious contacts (friends/families) in Mumbai, and to learn Hindi better.  I have even contacted an Indian lady here in Denver who teaches Hindi, so I look forward to that when she returns from India.

So, finally my thoughts about our trip to Mumbai.  First of all, we attended one of our fellowship churches in Thane, where we met a very nice Pastor & his wife. Their church was technically sent out of one of our US churches, and then eventually handed over to him, since he's Indian.  That was truly our highlight in our trip.  The rest had its ups and downs.  Nothing could truly prepare a person for Mumbai.  Although I was probably more prepared than most, you can't do much about sickness.  I was stomach sick for a good portion of our time there, which made it miserable at times, and just the sheer MASS of people unnerved me at times.  I couldn't imagine so many people coming and going, but more than that was the people that either had shops or living quarters set up on the sidewalks.  And even more, the people loitering!  I kept thinking, how can so many people just be hanging out on the sidewalks, streets & alleys.  I'm used to Americans that just go. LOL.  We ended up staying at Hotel Traveller's Inn, in Ballard Estate, right behind Cafe Universal, and about ten min. walk from CST/VT, on Shabat Singh Road.  It was like staying in an American Super 8/Motel 6.  Definitely not the greatest, but it was clean, quiet and safe, so that was good. Only saw 2 bugs, one roach (we were right next to kitchen) and something else that bit David in the hall lobby computer area.  He's fine :).  A lot of backpackers stay there.  Probably not the greatest place for a longer stay like ours, but the staff were decent, and so it worked for us.  It was also a bit unnerving to arrive at night, where it seemed as though Mumbai doesn't believe in too many street lights, because I just remember it being so very dark, but LOTS of people out.  Then we pulled into Ballard Estate (driver not exactly knowing where our hotel was) and it was like a ghost-town!  Thankfully one friendly soul was hanging out and directed our driver, and we got there safe.  Next day we decided to go out and find something for breakfast, but that was a bit futile, because we had not thought about breakfast food restaurants.  We walked to VT and that was what unnerved me the most. SO MANY PEOPLE!!!  We were probably there around 7-8am.  Probably not the smartest time to go, lol.  I couldn't take it well, and so we went back to hotel and just ordered something in.  I had a break-down, lol.  We stayed in most of the rest of the day, until we decided to venture down to Cafe Universal for an early dinner/late lunch.  I calmed down a bit.  Next day, we tried to go to Colaba Causeway, but I said Market instead, and we ended up somewhere else, nearby, but we didn't really realized that till later.  I think we also hit up the McD's for lunch at some point, and checked out VT while we were at it.  Still a little unnerving.  We also checked out Gateway & Taj Hotel, but then I got a little freaked out by all the haggling from camera guys and such (where we ended up getting some pics by one of them).  Finally on Saturday we were gonna head to Chowpatty & Juhu areas, but I got major stomach cramps again, and that day was wasted, sadly because of me. :(  Sunday was great though, because we took the cab ride to Thane West for church, and then had lunch at a very nice hotel buffet with the Pastor, his wife and a brother from their church.  We had a rickshaw ride in Thane, and David was thrilled.  Then we took cab back to hotel and just hung around there.  Monday we took the same Mehru cabbie for a day-trip, and he showed us Gateway, Nariman Point, Chowpatty, Bandra/Worli Seaface bridge, Juhu, etc.  We saw SRK & Salman Khan's house (at least that's what he said, on the seafront), saw Hanging Gardens and the one across street with animal bushes, then up to Bandra and had biryani at Lucky's.  We had him come in too, I think he liked it. :)  Then I really wanted to shop and he took us to a mall in Bandra, but didn't find anything cheap, so back to our room where we got directions online for Colaba Causeway, which we finally found!  Here is where I realized your recommendation for more money came in.  Yes, things could be cheap, but it was easy to blow money quick here. Got some nice souvenirs and such.  That was also a nice day, although I just felt drained by the end of it.  So much to see.  So many people.  Such mixed conditions.  It was definitely an adventure.  I can agree with people who say you can hate it at times and love it at times.  And, despite the hard times I did face, I think I've decompressed enough, and am ready to go back.  This time I'll know what to expect, at least a little bit, lol!  Oh, and we did also go to Marine Drive at night, although I got freaked out again (LOL) because there was a cricket game going on, and I just imagined it letting out, and ALL THOSE PEOPLE filling into where we were.  I realized my insecurities a lot.  But, I'm a bit stronger from it now, I think.  I definitely realize why Indians love to come to America.  But as for me, I will go where God leads.

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