Elephanta (not)

Tourist Bookings Office, Churchgate, Bombay.

Met a couple from Brighton in the bookings queue.  They were headed for a highly industrial town in Gujerat. They’d stuck a pin in the map and decided to go. I had mode more of a calculated choice: to only go to places that the guidebook really raved about and that were on a vague north-northeastern route.

He had done a lot of travelling prior to this and struck me as quite worldly-wise.  She had recently graduated from the London College of Printing’s course in Media studies and had decided to come along for a bit of an adventure.

Now, yesterday, whilst at both the Victoria and central stations I noticed that everyone who was queuing for tickets held a slip of paper in their hand. The guidebook had made no reference to this so I was a little confused.

The guy said he reckoned that you just picked one up from the booth and filled in where you wanted to go, on which train, and they would do the rest.  He was right too; within minutes I had my ticket to Udaipur with my reservation departing from Central Station at 1.40pm. All for the inclusive price of Rs190.

That was a good price. A very good price. About 3.50 GBP; and considering that the journey was time-tabled to last over 24 hours, over 800km, it was a fucking bargain.  Next time I may travel first class. I decided to treat myself to the Prince of Wales Museum.

It was shut – should have checked the opening times a little closer.

Went down to Leopold’s and sat writing some postcards whilst I indulged in a Pepsi and a Massala omelette. Much to my delight Mark and Mia arrived to indulge in a few strong beers before catching their bus to Goa.

We exchanged stories. It appeared that they had not ventured out of Colaba since our arrival. I told them they weren’t missing much. Apparently a legless beggar (literal not metaphorical) had chased them down the street after they didn’t give any money. I withheld my crematorium story – I was still a little embarrassed.

We bid farewell and I decided to head down to the Gate of India to catch a boat to Elephanta Island.  As I approached the gate I noted that there were hoards of people there.  “Shall I – shan’t I?” I began to think. I loitered for a split second at the edge of the throng, time enough to be grabbed by a gentleman.  Lucky for me he was doing Elephanta excursions. “You want to go to Elephanta?” “Yes.”  “You can’t, not today, too rough.” he indicated the sea. It looked pretty choppy and was a grimy shade of brown.

“You come tomorrow, same time, yes?”

“Yes!” (no).

It had seemed that through my entire time in Bombay if at any point I had genuinely wanted to see some of the sights – it hadn’t been possible.

I spent a lazy afternoon at the hotel and then indulged in a gorgeous vegetable Thali at the Majestic Hotel before turning in.

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