Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mumbai, India January 26, 2011

Well, my trip is nearing its end. We spent yesterday seeing the Elephant Caves, having tea and getting some last minute shopping done at FabIndia.

The Elephant Caves are located about 10 kilometers out in the bay. Somewhere around 450 A.D to 750 A.D, the local tribe literally carved out caves and chiseled statues of Hindu gods into the rock. The largest is around 70 feet deep, with many carved pillars and has the story of the Hindu trinity carved into base relief statutes along the back wall. There is also a huge statue of the god Shiva (which is just a man part). The other caves are lesser in size and have had most of the carvings removed by the Portuguese when they arrived. It was amazing to see the level of detail and work that went into building these cave temples.

As usual, we shopped. FabIndia was started in the 60’s by a very forward thinking person. They now have about 25 shops all over India. It has the most beautiful selection of Indian fabrics, clothes, furniture, jewelry and other accessories. Both modern Indian and traditional Indian items can be found as well as some of the best tea I have had here, Tulsi Ginger tea. I did buy some napkins, dish towels and an item of clothing for each of my grandchildren, modern clothes, not traditional. The shop is not large like an American department store, but it is larger than the usual store here. The one in downtown Mumbai has a coffee shop in it as well.

We did tea at a restaurant around the corner from FabIndia and ate some traditional street food. One item was a delicious little thing filled with yogurt and three different curries that you pop into your moth all at once. The other was a dish of yogurt with small bites of potatoes, peas and spices. It was slightly sweeter and it came with toasted bread much like pita to scoop of the mixture.

We also got together with one of Devika’s friends last night and sat around a lounge, relaxed, had gobs of girl talk and ended up having a very late dinner of Iranian food before coming back to the flat. It was a good evening and Priti owns her own business and specializes in leather fashions for the Amsterdam market. I saw her shop today, met her work crew and saw some of her samples. Her products have extraordinary workmanship. If they were affordable to me I would have bought one of the beautiful thin leather coats or stylish jackets in very rich tones of brown and blues.

Today I went spice shopping for myself and daughter-in-law and joined Devika and her friends from a book club for a movie and girl chat. I also made mac and cheese for Devika’s neighbor, Indian style, which simply means heated up with some green chilies!

India has been a great experience, but I will be glad to be back in the USA. India is a country under construction in more ways than one and sometimes it was difficult to tell if they were building something, tearing something down or just left something unfinished. With so many poor people (estimated around 421 million living below a subsistence level) and so many people under the age of 30, change must come and will come. What change and how it comes, is the mystery to be unraveled with time.

Tomorrow is high tea at the Taj Hotel and then off to Manju's for for a nice viist and dinner before heading to the airport.

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