Day Trip from Mumbai: Matheran

View from Matheran 4.jpg

Over the weekend, we went to a hill station outside of Mumbai called Matheran. Indians like to travel to these hill stations high in the mountains to breathe in the fresh air and escape the heat of the city.

Matheran is the closest hill station to Mumbai. And, were the roads outside of town a bit better, we could have reached there in about an hour. Instead, it took about two hours, through suburban slums, past random socialist-era factories, and in the middle of the morning rush. Although we were traveling in the opposite direction from most of the buses and rickshaw-wallahs, traffic was pretty bad. We had to keep the windows rolled up in order to avoid inhaling a thick cloud of diesel fumes.
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Getting Easier

It’s amazing how much easier life in Mumbai can be when you have your own driver. Ours started today, and I’m relieved. We may be scooting around in the Honda Civic for the time being, but at least the rides are now air conditioned and hassle-free. Four days of hailing cabs in this city can wear you out. And, since I’m new here, a few cabs have gotten “lost” on the way back to my place. It was to be expected…we did a whole simulation on cabbie foul play in my Hindi class.

When you’re not in a cab, though, they seem pretty cool. All drivers drive the classic Ambassador, and Indian-made car that looks like a PT cruiser/old Benz prototype, only much much smaller. There’s hardly enough headroom for me, and I’m only 5’6…(okay, okay…so my driver’s license says 5’7″). Some drivers have also decked out their cabs with decals of Lakshmi, Ganesh, Lord Shiva or other Hindu deities, and the interiors of a very few are quite luxe. Still…no a/c.

As I was fortunate enough to have a driver today, I decided to get down to business and shop.
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Namaskar Mumbai Se!

And on the first few days I saw:

1 vulture
1 lizard
3 Cows (1 of which was hitched to a cart at the beginning of the evening rush)
Several bats
Dozens of stray dogs

Mumbai is wild and for a city of its size – we’re talking 20 million – it certainly has a lot of wildlife. There are bats with 2-3 foot wingspans nesting in the trees outside of my room. The bats aren’t menacing at all. Kind of pretty actually. But when you first realize what they are, it’s pretty freaky because they’re bigger than crows. Much bigger. I’m fairly positive I saw a vulture yesterday, but
upon looking this morning, I think it may have been a very large hawk. Not sure about all the birdlife here, so I’ll learn.
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Next Stop: Bombay

This has been a long time coming, this posting. But the past month has been too hectic to keep up. Intensive Hindi classes, packing, and saying goodbye to everyone has…

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