Creativity and Ramblings from the heart of NYC and around the World

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mumbai - Day 3

Part I - Laundry and Getting There

As with any business trip, I'm here to work.

This means it's often the "getting there" where I get to see most of the culture. Is you peer out the window you have to decipher what you see in little bites until you have the full story. This often involves a long continuous list of "what's that" "why does that have a" "is that the norm?" etc. to whomever is sitting near me, local and speaks English. Shown at right here is a view of housing that I saw daily as we left central Mumbai.

One of the things that I saw a lot on these hour+ long drives to the factories, were the families sharing the mopeds/motorbikes. Although I've see it so many times in China, it amazed me to see the women riding side saddle due to the restricted movements in their saris. Often is was four people with a second child seated between the parents. Almost no one uses a helmet either, although the government is desperately trying to enforce this compulsory law. They certainly don't have the man power to stop every bike with non-helmet wearing passengers. Instead, they are using signs, like this one at right, at toll booths that you must pass through when traveling 40 minutes outside the center of Mumbai.
Another option are the Auto-pedicabs (shown left.) They were out in droves this morning. I didn't see them within Mumbai center much, so I'm not sure what their driving restrictions are, but just outside the center -- VOILA! They are about as wide as 2 seats at the cinema, smooshed together and are set-up like a trike with 2 wheels at the back and one front. The driver most often, from what I noticed, is barefoot and sitting on one foot casually as he navigates the traffic and roads. Three people are often seen to have poured themselves into the back, sitting upon one another in order to fit. Yes, it's a less expensive mode of transportation from the taxis that also abound.

A I travel, I find myself trying to imagine what it would be like to live in which ever country I'm visiting. What would I be up against if my finances or class level kept me where I was without much chance of change in my lifetime... A hard thing to think about.

This morning on the way to the knitting factory, we were treated to a stop by a Mumbai landmark.

The Laundry.

Perhaps you're thinking what could be so interesting about a bunch of people doing laundry? How about this:

or this:

Dan and I couldn't help but stare in awe before grabbing our cameras and going for it. I was hoping my camera would work for a few more minutes (it was slowly dieing), and it didn't let me down. Even let me get a few moments of video (see it at the very bottom of this blog entry)!

This is where the hotels, restaurants and many households send their laundry to be done.

It extends nearly as far as the eye can see!! An amazing sight.

To the left of the area where laundry was being done you can see the commuter train, at times bursting with people. Some hanging on as they half hang out the door.

I have so many photos of the laundry...but only space for a few!!!

There are just SO MANY PEOPLE here.

Everywhere you look - people. You can tell this a bit as you watch how they interact with each other and how they walk. Very little personal space is accounted for. Everyone walks very close to one another...something I see in China and Hong Kong too. I suppose when you put this many people into a small space you don't learn what it's like to have personal space. It really makes you appreciate it when you have those few moments where no one is so close to you. I sometime have to remind myself that people aren't being rude and that their culture is different. It can be very overwhelming when walking through crowds.

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