Monday, June 26, 2017



 Mumbai, or as most of the locals I met still call it, Bombay, is a city of massive human density and 

urban sprawl.  On a map it's shape from the airport reminds me of a bear claw, broadening out as one 

gets nearer to the southern waterfront.  Three hundred years ago, the topography, that makes up the 

city, consisted of seven islands connected by land reclamations.  The final reclamation in1942, 

 created what is now the southern Fort District of the city.  

Inside the Mumbai Airport
Corridor in the Taj Hotel

 The Fort Business District, named after the British Fort George, is home to Mumbai's major

museums, a Fab India store location, many other local shops, and The Taj Mahal Palce Hotel, now

beautifully repaired, which was damaged by the Lashkar-e-Tabia terrorist group from Pakastan with

the help of Pakstani/American, David Headley in November 2008).
Swimming pool at the Taj Hotel

Tea Room at the Taj Hotel

The taxi ride from the airport to the Fort District took about

45 minutes.  About half way along the

 route, which was rift with heavy traffic, we passed a numerous number of mosques, actuating the

large Muslim community within this city.
Typical Mumbai Mosque

 I stayed at the YWCA International Center -International Guest  House (website:,

which takes both male and female guests.  The cost is between 40 and Sixty dollars a night and this

includes, private room and bath, lots of hot water, TV, internet, and two meals a day, buffet breakfasts

and dinners.  Not flashy but adequate, with lovely help and also delightful and interesting guests

(some of whom come from cold climes and stay the winter season).  Another plus about the

YWCA ia its location.  It is within walking distance of almost everything, from the Taj Hotel,

museums, good restaurants, shopping and the post office.  If you get thirsty for Starbucks there are

two of those near by as well; one at the back side of the Taj Hotel.
View from my room at the YWCA


And walk you will, for outside of Miami

Beach, Florida, and Napier, New Zealand,

Mumbai has the

best collection of Art Deco buildings you will

find anywhere in the world.  These are not the small
Another view from my room at the YWCA

artful little hotels Miami Beach is known for, nor the charming little shops of Napier, but rather large

stately buildings with Egyptian base relief motifs, Mesopotamia Ziggurat pyramid facades and any

number of other more modern elegant base relief styles. I was over whelmed by the grander and

beauty of these archectural pieces of art.
Mumbai Art Deco

Mumbai Art Deco

An example of Mumbai Art Deco 

As for restaurants, I ate lunch twice at the Taj Mahal


Hotel and enjoyed the Tea Room best

where I was seated with a harbor window view.  Oddly, my

waiter at first thought I was a Parsi

woman, and began by speaking to me in an Hindi.   Mumbai has the largest Parsi population in India,

which I knew.  However the waiter explained that Parsi women are the most educated of Indian

women, although in regards to my being Parsi, I think he was putting me on.  He said with great

sincerity, that many are blond and speak remarkably good English.  As for the upstaris Tea Room, the

food and service were excellent and the view superb.  I also eat at the Leopold Cafe, a tourist trap

which is always packed and serves mediore food, but this restaurant has the distinction of being the

one major restraurant that the terrorists also attacked in 2008, so of course I had to try it  Last. I went

to one of my standby Indian favorites for Masala Chi, Coffee Day, a snack place with good chai.
Sign at the Leopold Cafe that was also bombed in 2008

One of the things I found interesting was that three wheeled auto rickshaws are banned in the

Fort District, of Mumbai; only taxis, buses and private cars are allowed.  Additionally unlike New

Delhi, I only met one taxi driver who spoke English, and none of them seemed to know their way

around the city.  In Delhi, which is the capital of India, almost everyone speals English, and the

people, even the laborers seem to be sharp clever people who knew where everything was all acoss

Delhi.  Where as in Mumbai, which is the business and bollywood capital of the country, among the

people I met - and I was in the what might be considered one of the most cosmapoltian parts of the

city - very few spoke English, which is the language of the government; i.e. one cannot get a

government job anywhere in India if one doe not speak English.
View of Mumbai Habor

I know in my short time there, I missed some great attractions; the SanjayGandhi National Park with

leopards, birds and other wildlife, Elephant Island with caves full of carved sculptures and monkeys

(note: I dislike monkeys), but would enjoy seeing the carvings, and dancing at the National Center for

Performing Arts.

Hopfully I will be in Mumbai soon and be able to reprort on those other attraction and much more.

Meanwhile, my next posts will be about a holiday visit to  the Winchester, England, then on to the

Caribbean islands of Montserrat and Guadalupe.

A carriage ride on the habor walk outside the Taj Mahal Hotel



Saturday, April 22, 2017







Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer dryness
    I left the Gir National Forest area around 10 AM. After traveling about 40 kilometers on a single lane road, we entered a four lane divided highway.  I was guaranteed a driver that spoke some English, but was not surprised to find that his only language was the local Gujarati, language of this Indian state.  Not only did he not speak English, he could not read it either, and all the road signs were in the English language.  The only communications we had during the whole 11-hour trip was my poking him to get his attention, pointing in this direction or that and saying Bhuj.  The trip was only supposed to take seven hours but because of miscommunications, it took four hours longer.  The road was excellent and well marked, but the landscape throughout the whole of Gujarat was much like that of Gir Forest, parched from lack of rain.

Hotel Oasis
It was dark when we arrived at Hotel Oasis. Although it was centrally located, the hotel was disgusting by my standards.  That night I shared my shabby room with pealing paint and at least one cockroach.  Unfortunately, it was too late to change hotels.

   Note: One of the sites I really like for picking an hotel is Trip Advisor, but although contributors are suppose to sign they have no connection to the hotel they are recommending, in both Ahmedabad and in Bhuj there were a lot of recommendations by local residences.  This exactly why I read at least ten before making my hotel choices in both cities and even then, I got it wrong the first time in both cities. 
Hotel Price 
Often times when my sleep schedule is upset or the travel has been stressful, I have the physical reaction of a cold or slight respiratory infection, and one had developed by morning.  That next morning, I transferred to the Prince Hotel, rated number one in Bhuj and spent two days resting before I ventured out to again.  The Prince Hotel was rather worn as well, with a bit of pealing paint, yet it was a 100 times nicer than Hotel Oasis.  My room rate included breakfast, but if I had it in my room, I was not only charged the service fee but also for the breakfast. 
Typical Indian dress displayed in the museum.


After two days, I ventured out to the local tourist office and the Museum.  Even with directions by the hotel staff to the auto rickshaw driver, he still could not find his way.  He finally dropped me near the location, and I had to wander among adjacent streets from building to building until I found the tourist office.  Once there, I found two young workers who had the requisite skill of all Indian government employees; they could speak English.  Yet they had no knowledge of the area, no brochures and no maps.  What they did have were government jobs. 
Two students standing in front of a museum applique display. 
   After my Bhuj Tourist Office visit, I wandered back down the street to the local museum.  It was quite interesting with not only the expected historical textile display but also wonderful archeological and local history sections.  Unfortunately, I did not spend as much time as I had wished, as this was school groups day and there were at least 120 elementary through high school kids there who were more fascinated with me than the artifacts that many had come some distance to see.  Kids are fun, but over 120 all in the same area is a little overwhelming.  There were so many, they were like swarming bees in every section of the museum.  Upon escaping the multitude of youngsters, I hired an auto-rickshaw to return to my hotel and found what I perceived on my way to the tourist office.  Bhuj was one of those typical down-in-the-heel impoverished Indian villages.  But still a village that, while maintaining it’s shabbiness, had expanded because it was surrounded by wonderfully talented artisans whose hand-produced products were found only in this area of India.  
    Upon my return to the hotel, the desk clerk arranged for me to go on a northern tour the next day with a young guide who took me to textile makers, craft makers, and the Kutch. 
A village door

A village house

Another village house

A woman entering a house

This part of Gujarat is called Kutch, a word meaning tortoise in Sanskrit, because it is a marshland, a marshland, which during the monsoon season is covered with rain and the influx of salt water from the Arabian Sea. During the winter dry season, when the water recedes, much of it is covered with a hard crust of salt, i.e. like a tortoise’s shell, the Kutch. 
One of the artisans little vilage near the Kutch.
An atist finishing an applique
During the tour, I was taken to see artists in applique and patchwork, and Rogan: a hand painting technique mixing sunflower, linseed or castor oils with vivid colors of various minerals 
(interesting the area is covered in fields of Castor plants).   These malleable thickened pastes are stored in earthen pots to be applied on dyed cotton or silk cloths using either a wooden or metallic stylus in geometric or floral motifs.  

Painting Materals with Rogan paints

Finished Rogan material 
      We also visited a wood worker who made beautiful colorful kitchen cooking utensils, and a metal

Hand making wooden utensils.
Beautiful wooden untensils

worker who, using no tools except a little hammer, made a lovely cat wind chime with little bells,

which I bought.
Hand making bells and chimes

Some bells

Then we went to the Kutch.

 Since Mr. Modi, the former Gujarati Governor,

has become Prime Minster of India, the Kutch


cleverly been developed as a tourist destination.

A temporary tourist tent village is placed on the

hard salt surface during the dry season and

rented out

to, in my opinion, gullible travelers who stay there for three to five nights, shopping at the pop up

kiosks for local goods and going on to the vacant salt flats to experience the sundown.  Throughout

the crowd, impromptu musicians play local instruments’ and drums. It is also advertised that evening

entertainment happens within the tent village, but visitors who are not staying in the complex are

stopped at the gate, so I missed that part of the experience.  Since I was not captivated by the idea of

paying 225 US, for three days/two night at what was called the White Ram Resort experience, I

missed out on the inside village activities of Para Motoring, Bungee Trampoline, ATV rides, pool,

board games and Library.

A member of the Indian Military

Waiting for riders

Dancing on the KUTCH

In local dress on the KUTCH

The sun just before fading on the KUTCH

Typical tribal dress
     That evening in the lobby, I met Mr. A.A Wasir, a gracious, elderly gentleman who what he called The Museum Quality Textiles. The next day upon my visiting Mr. Wasir’s, I was astounded to enter a large room harboring a vast collection of extremely valuable antique Indian textiles, floor to ceiling shelves on either side of the room of beautiful Indian fabrics.  Later, I learned that it was from Mr. Wasir’s collection around which the lovely petit Materials Museum at the HG hotel in Ahmedabad was designed. 
beautiful appliqué
Just one small shelve full of Indian fabrics
of the many, at Mr. Wasir's.

For your camel or faimly pet

Mr. Wasir holding a lovely handmade piece
hand made belts at Mr. Wasir's

     The next day, I flew from Bruj to Mumbai (Bombay), a city much different than ‘my old stamping ground Delhi’.  But That’s another story. 


                               PICTURES OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF THE KUTCH

 Although school is available to them, most of these children do not attend. After going for a short time, they give it up because they find a school schedule too rigid.  They would rather remain home, play, and show their family goods to any tourists that might arrive.

 Note the different clothing designs from the different village groups. I was told that although these households are very poor, the women have at least eight different outfits.

Rocking the baby in its crib