|Maisha is happily playing with the zoo toy|
Just before landing in Mumbai, our plane flew over fires. Lots of fires. I saw it from the air just north of Mumbai. They were bright orange flames creating lots and lots of smoke. I thought they were dozens of funeral pyres but it turns out that there is an ongoing fire at the Mumbai garbage dumping grounds. Mumbai is full of smoke. The air is unhealthy.
After landing right on time at 1AM, the immigration and customs process was smooth. Nimay was waiting for me. Within half-an-hour, we were at his place. We talked for a while before I went to bed at around 3AM.
When I woke up, my mom (who had arrived that morning via train from Ahmedabad) was at the dining table waiting for breakfast. Pretty soon, Maithili, Prachi and little Maisha joined us. We all had REAL Indian food (a grated potato dish with all kinds of masala), some khakhra and chanki. We mixed it in with cheese-toast, fresh orange juice and Nespresso coffee. The toy that Naman and I got for Maisha at the Phoenix zoo was a big hit. It’s a pink wand with neon lights; and it makes a ringing noise. What’s not to like?
Nimay dropped me off to the hotel at around 11:30AM. My old friend from college Rajiv stopped by and we went out to lunch at a local Gujju restaurant called Samrat. We both ate a traditional thali. Very yummy. There is nothing like eating Indian food in India. The flavors come alive. The ambiance, the service, the sounds, the smells, and then the taste. There is no way to put it in words. Rajiv and I talked of old times in college and new happenings in our lives. He is doing very well. More importantly, he is happy and healthy!
|Selling fodder to feed a cow in the middle of the street in Mumbai|
I came back to the hotel and took a long nap. When I woke up at around 6PM, it was time for dinner. Off we went to the ITC Peshawri. This time, it was with Nimay, Prachi, Maisha, Ankur, Maithili, my mom and Mr. and Mrs. Loona (Prachi’s parents). As is always the case in India, rich food was flowing. Chicken prepared perfectly with a variety of curry spices, paneer with saag, koftas, more chicken and paneer with hariali, various naans and rotis, yogurt with vegetables, all kinds of pickles to enhance the already stimulating flavors flowed all evening long. All this was topped off with a Shahi Tukda, a Hyderabadi dessert rich in sweet milk with saffron and pistachio lathered over sweet, scrumptious fried bread. There were four young boys serving us with perfect politeness and grace. I loved every moment of it. I missed Binita. She would have enjoyed it even more than I did.
|Victoria Terminus, Mumbai|
By the time I got back to the hotel, it was 11:30PM. It was time to sleep. So let’s see; all I have done since I arrived in Mumbai is eat, sleep, eat, sleep and repeat.
I haven’t run now in a week. I will go out early tomorrow morning. It is smoky and foggy in Mumbai, but I will brave it on Marine Drive. My plan is to run about 6 miles. We’ll see how far I get!