>Travel Pictures


A day at the Museum

We spent our Saturday of the Gandhi birthday three-day weekend going downtown to explore the Prince of Wales Museum.

Sealink Bridge

We've ridden across the brand new Mumbai Sealink bridge a couple of times, but this is the first time that we'd brought a camera with us.

In addition to exhortations limiting the types of traffic allowed on the bridge, there were also reminders about how to drive. It is a little bit sad to note that, in a country which can turn out architectural masterpieces such as this, there are still oxen-driven carts and a propensity to drive without regard for the rules.

As we crossed over, we passed a fishing village situated on the site of an old fort that guarded the bay. Aside from the towering buildings in the background, it seems as if life has remained unchanged for a long time on the peninsula.

Exiting the bridge, we were glad to note that the new shortcut shaves off nearly 20 minutes of travel time, so that now the trip downtown takes us 'merely' an hour (in the mornings, with not much other traffic).

Crawford Market

Seen from outside, the main building facade of Crawford market looks peaceful and serene, but inside is another world altogether. It is a vegetable, spice, animal, and plastics emporium all rolled together under one roof (and stretching for blocks off in the other direction as well).
While the vegetable and fruit sellers amazed us with the color and variety of produce offered, the kids' favorites were the animals. Thankfully we did not see creatures being treated too badly, and we saw every conceivable type of food and/or pet: turkeys, parakeets, rabbits, cats, dogs, fish, mice, rats, hamsters, etc, etc, etc.

The different means of displaying the fruits caught our eyes as well. Green bananas were all ready to go...

While this ex-fountain was where all the pineapple sellers seemed to congregate.

The butchering area (thankfully not the slaughter house - we didn't inquire too closely as to its location) was an unbelievable sight. Entrails and carcasses all over, crows and cats fighting over the remains. It made me feel mighty glad we cook all our food thoroughly!

Walking down town

That's a load of bananas!!

Heading out of the market area, we saw some of the means that resellers get the goods to the local green markets around the city. Above is a pineapple packed taxi
We passed other trades that are dying arts in many parts of the world. A string of cobblers were working along one stretch of sidewalk, while a  ear-cleaning specialists awaits customers. Notice his photographic advertisements, his bag full of cotton balls, and the reusable metal q-tip he uses? Great stuff...

An these guys hauling goods down the road: no delivery truck needed, just 4 men to load and push the cart. I'll bet they wouldn't say no to a glass of fresh-squeezed lemon juice!

Breck took a break to check out the massive banyan trees that are native to the area here.

Manual labor is the way many things get done around here, including delivering the gas cylinders used for cooking everywhere.

He also cozied up to a quasi-Assyrian statue as we headed further into town.
As we approached the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, the towering Gothic spires dominated the skyline. We ducked under the road to stick our heads in the train terminal, a UNESCO world heritage site. This was where a horrific attack took place during the November attacks in 2008 (26/11 as the date is remembered here), but it is all hustle and bustle now. There were metal detectors, but nobody manning them, and the only sign of security was when a policeman told us (very politely) that photography is not allowed inside.

The scene could almost be out of England, with the spires, the black cabs, and the double decker red buses!

So we continued our excursion south, passing more smiling snack vendors along the way.

But one can never forget that this is India. Passing a lineup of taxis, look for at least three legs of sleeping cabmen sticking out in the picture above. And, as everywhere we go, there are street children begging or selling something. This little girl has strung together good luck charms of a pepper, a lime, and a chunk of charcoal that she will try to sell to people to hang on their cars for about 10 cents each.
Old habits die hard in Mumbai. Whether it is a fountain recognizing the faded glory of the British empire, or a tree that has grown around and through a wire fence, or the outdated shoe repairman working on the side of the road, or the portrait artist sketching outside the museum, if you walk around long enough, you are going to see some pretty cool stuff.

Prince of Wales Museum

(or, more tongue twistingly,  Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya)

We'd heard that the collections were wonderful, and were pleased with the opportunity to wander (and with the audio guides that were part of our admission price).

Nepalese and Tibetan bronzes provide a beautiful counterpart to the Hindu stone murals and artifacts from pre-historic and Harappan times.

Repository to thousands of years' of historical artifacts, this museum was our main reason for heading downtown.

The collections contained pieces from all facets of Indian history, but is most famous for the extensive number of miniature paintings that were the rage during the Mughal periods.

Some of the gods - being quite amorous after all - are pretty racy representations, but overall there is simply a ton to look at. There is even a natural history section, with stuffed animals and fish from the subcontinent. There was a group of students in drawing the animals when we visited, and it seems as if this baby elephant is keeping a close eye on the one below him.

There were younger student traipsing around too, and they had to be reminded at times by the museum staff to behave and stay quiet!!

Luckily enough, there were plenty of contemplative Buddha's spread all around to make sure that the proper level of decorum was upheld (usually!)

Alea had some fun in this last section, as she studied a rhino, came face to face with a cobra, and passed through an elephant-tusk arch. Cool!!

We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get in to a restaurant for lunch, walking past the Gateway of India for a drink at the Taj hotel, and then doing a little shopping at Harry's.

But all good days must eventually come to an end, and we headed back across a now-lit-up sealink bridge. It seemed like a long time ago that we first crossed, and we figured that was one of the hallmarks of a successful day in downtown Mumbai. What a lot of (hot and sweaty) fun!!

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