Sunday, November 15, 2009
Today was our last day in India. We stayed in Bandra. We had street food at a great place called Echo Market. Usually you can’t risk eating street food, but here the food is supposed to be ok. It was delicious. We took a tuk-tuk to the restaurant, then called Kashmera. We handed the cell phone to the waiter and she ordered for us. It was great. We really enjoyed eating what the local Bombay folks would eat.
We returned to the Hotel and walked along the sea shore. It was to us extremely hot and humid. We were drenched. The locals said it was winter in they were cold. Everything is relative I guess.
We drank a lot of wine at sunset, and then headed out to a local restaurant: Spice Tree. It was delicious. It was our final dinner in India, and a great choice. Shrimp, Pomfret, Gobi, rice, Crab and garlic naan. This was our final dinner in India and a great one.
Our flight for Germany then LA leaves at 3:30am so hopefully we will remain awake to get on the plane. This has been a great trip. We will miss India although we are anxious to get back home to our cats and our house.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
We have enjoyed watching them destroy the old hotel across the street from the Taj. For one thing it blocks the view from some reasons. But the tearing down of the hotel is being done very differently from the way it would happen in America. We would use explosives and implode the building. Here they just use muscle power. There must be men on the roof, only equipped with a sledge hammer, banging away. Labor is very cheap in India. That is a view of SRK’s house from our window. You are looking at the top 3 floors of his 7 story house, his curtains are drawn.
In the morning we had massages then headed back shopping in Bandra, jewelry capital of the world - I think. Bandra has more jewelry stores then I have ever seen in one place. It was very hot and humid as we walked the streets of Bandra. It is very strange Bandra is supposed to be a rich city, but to us there were a lot of very poor people living very close to a lot of very rich people. Like all of India, the streets are very crowded.
When we returned to the Taj, a new store in the hotel had a grand opening. It sells a lot of textiles from places in India that we have visited. We were very surprised to see a whole display of clothes from Darshan Shah who we met in Calcutta.
We really went native for dinner. We took a tuk-tuk to a local seafood restaurant that had been recommended to us. We had Crab, Shrimp, Bombay Duck (a fried fish dish) and Vegetable rice. The whole dinner cost less than 500 rupees or 10 dollars. We ate it with our fingers in true Indian style. Tuk-Tuked back to our Hotel. Tomorrow is our last full day in Bandra and then we take a 3:30am flight home to LA, ending our time in India.
Friday, November 13, 2009
We checked out of the Intercontinental Hotel overlooking Marine Drive and the Arabian Sea and headed to Northern Mumbai to Bandra. Before we left we took one last taxi ride to the bazaar looking for Antique Gold Jewelry. There was none. We are staying at the Taj Lands End in Bandra. Our room on the 21st floor overlooks the Arabian Sea and Shahrukh Khan’s house. Kashmera had obtained a driver for us, and after checking in we drove to the Bandra Shopping Area. Bandra must mean jewelry store in Hindi, because there are enormous jewelry stores on every block. Once again we didn’t buy anything.
It was very hot and humid as we walked around Bandra. We returned to the hotel cleaned up had some wine and headed to a movie theater in Juhu. Our driver dropped us off and we met Kash and Krushna. Good news and bad news about the theater. First the Good News: There is no movie theater in the US that is as nice as the one we went to. The chairs have electric controls and recline like a first class sleeper seat on an airplane! You can actually lie flat and watch the movie. They issue everyone blankets I did sneak a bottle of wine in the theater. Now the bad news: the movie was 2012. An American Special Effects movie, we would never see in the US. The theater made it worthwhile going.
We then drove to a local non-touristy South Indian Restaurant and had great sea food. Kash and Krushna like the place and we could understand why. The food is served on banana leaves like they do in the south and you eat with your fingers. The food was great. Have you ever eaten rice with your fingers? Lick Lick!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
After our 5 hour delay, we finally arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel on Marine Drive. The hotel overlooks the Arabian Sea and has a rooftop bar / restaurant that has a spectacular view. We had drinks and dinner and then retired to very high-tech room. It was so high-tech we couldn’t figure out how to turn the lights on and off and had to call for assistance.
In the morning we were met by our driver and a guide who we had hired for the day. Basically we saw all of the key Mumbai sights we had missed on our previous visits to the city. Yesterday Mumbai dodged a bullet as the Cyclone missed the city, although it had heavy rains. Today it was perfect with a blue sky.
We were expecting rain, so we were lucky.
We started by visiting the Dhobi Ghats, where they do the laundry for the city. Hundreds of men clean and wash clothes by beating them against concrete. They then lay the clothes out to dry in the warm sun. it is quite amazing to see human labor used instead of our traditional washing machines. The richest man in India is Mukesh Ambani he is building a 2 billion dollar house that will be 60 floor high rise with a helicopter deck on the roof. We had great fun guessing which one of the many high-rises being built in Mumbai was his home.
Malabar Hill is the highest point in Mumbai and also the richest area. It is the home of many Jains and Parsees. There are not many Parsees left in India, maybe 60,000. They worship fire and were originally from Persia. The religion is also called Zoroastrianism, Many are fabulously wealthy, including Rashon Tata who owns the Taj Group and Tata Motors. The conductor Zuben Metha is the most famous Parsee in the west. Among other things they are famous for the Towers of Silence in Mumbai. When a Parsee dies, instead of being buried like a Muslim or cremated like a Hindu, the body is placed atop the Towers of Silence and devoured by vultures. We saw the vultures circling above us, you can not visit the Parsee the Fire Temple or the Towers of Silence.
We especially wanted to see the Tank and Ghats atop Malabar Hill. The tank is a very large and ancient pool the size of a football field that is lined with steps leading down to it. These steps or Ghats is how the Hindus could descend into the lake to take their ritualistic bathes. There are several Shiva Temples around the Ghats. The whole area felt like a village community in the middle of the city.
From there we walked over to a Jain Temple. Removing our shoes we walked thru. It is very rich, lots of gold, silver and jewels. We saw priests wearing masks for Jains are such extreme vegetarians that many wear masks to prevent them from accidentally swallowing and killing an insect. In Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Temples there is always a bell that you ring. Cathy rang with gusto. If we had bells in Jewish services I might have enjoyed them more.
After a short walk through the hanging gardens we went to Gandhi’s House. Gandhi is big in India. We have no comparable figure. Think of Lincoln, Washington and Martin Luther King rolled into one. He was a driving force behind freedom from British rule, he fought for equality and he had a very religious aura. Ironically, this man who had few possessions picture is on every denomination of Indian money. As a young lawyer he left India and moved to South Africa. He championed the cause of anti-discrimination in South Africa and when 21 years later he returned to India, he was already regarded as a hero. The rest of his life was devoted to non-violence and the Indian Freedom Struggle. The house, where he stayed when in Bombay is now a museum. It was very touching to go thru it. We have been to several different Gandhi museums in various cities and each one is very moving, he was a remarkable man.
We then drove through the incredibly busy traffic of Mumbai to Crawford Market and the Chor Bizarre. Traffic is so dense it barely moves in this predominately Muslim area. Crawford market is the central food market for Bombay, Chor Bizarre and the streets surrounding it sell everything else, from tools to movie posters. I had heard about men that as a profession clean other people’s ears. Finally saw one.
We returned to our hotel and had a bottle of wine on the roof and then a massage (each of us got a free 20 minute massage – a nice touch by the hotel).
We then went to Trishna, our favorite restaurant in Mumbai for the 2nd time on this trip. They serve fantastic sea food.
Tomorrow we leave this hotel and head north to the suburb of Bandra, near the
Bollywood Studios and close to where Kashmera and Krushna live.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
We drove to Old Goa, the original Portuguese capital of Goa. It is a World Heritage Site filled with old churches. We didn’t go in any. I think our driver was scandalized that we didn’t want to see the parts of the relics of St. Thomas that are in the main church.
It drizzled off and on. To us that was a good thing, It kept the temperature down. To the people that came to Goa to lie on the beach I assume it was a bummer. We then went to the new capital (that is still old) and drove around looking at the charming homes.
Once again we got into an accident as a motorcycle tried to squeeze between our van and the curb. It scratched our van, but after a few words between our driver and the motorcyclist, the incident was over. Our driver told us that the police are so corrupt and crowds gather that no one would bother to call the police or stop unless it is a major incident. We are glad we live in the USA.
We returned to our lodging and I had a massage.
At the hotel the rain continued to get heaver. To us it was a monsoon. To the Goans it was a strange time for a heavy rain but not a monsoon. We ate outdoors under an open sided veranda at the hotel. It actually was fun listening and watching the rain as we ate. We finally got to drink some Feni the strong alcohol made from cashews. We had lobster and shrimp again.
Goan is big on seafood!
The internet is unusable here, that is why there has been no posts. The electricity is spotty. I imagine that the rain makes it even worse. There are power failures about every 2 hours or so, then there is a wait of about a minute and generators kick in. When the electricity finally returns things go dark again as the power is switched.
We found out there was a cyclone approaching Goa. The rains got heavier, all of sudden we started to wonder, what are we doing in Goa if a Cyclone is on the way? The rains got very heavy, the electricity went out for the night. Our roof leaked over our bed. Not a great night for sleeping.
We awakened wondering if we would get out before the cyclone hit. The rain continued, actually the rain was nice straight down and heavy.
We left our historic house and headed for the airport, hoping our flight would be reasonably on time. Bottom line, glad we got to Goa, enjoyed the rain, if you want a tropical exotic experience I think Bali is more interesting.
We got to the airport and realized that the cyclone was now headed for Bombay, which is where we are flying to. We were following the cyclone. Our flight was delayed for over 5 hours, but we finally made it. The cyclone missed Mumbai, although there were heavy rains.
I had an interesting experience while waiting for the plane. I carry a small man’s travel bag, and I left it when we went to a different location at the airport to wait for our flight. I finally realized I didn’t have it, and went searching for it. It had a lot of money, credit cards, cell phone etc. in it. I went to where we had been sitting and their was a guard with my bag. I followed him into the office and everything was intact, all the money was there etc. I was fined 1000 rupees, for leaving an unattended bag. But I was happy to pay it and get my stuff back.
So even though there is a lot of corruption with the police, I tip my hat to the honorable guards at the Goa Airport.
We are now in Mumbai at the Intercontinental Hotel, where the roof doesn’t leak, the air-conditioning works, and I have Internet!
At the airport we said goodbye to Ferris and Courtney who are leaving tonight to return to the States. We will continue our adventures in Mumbai!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
We awoke and had breakfast in the courtyard of the old mansion. We were staying at the extreme North End of Goa. Kashmera was staying and performing at the very Southern tip of Goa, at the Intercontinental hotel. We decided to leave with our driver Alex for the day, drive towards the South and eventually arrive at the Intercontinental. We brought our best clothes with us so that we could take shower in Kash’s room and change before the show.
Goa is beautiful. It has lots of beaches, very quaint homes, lush jungles and mountains. On our drive towards the south we stopped in the capital city to buy some CD’s. Alex’s had a very nice jeep like vehicle with a great sound system and we listened to lots of Indian Music on our way. The journey took us through village after village.
We finally stopped at Historical Portuguese Museum. It was comprised of about 10 houses that have been restored. An apparently quite rich Goan not only sponsored the restoration but also has donated a huge collection of antique everyday items to the museum, which fills the homes with interesting items. The houses varied from a large mansion with a private chapel to home of a Brahman Priest. They all lived together in harmony.
Our guide was a very pretty Goan woman. She was excellent and was a delight to be with. At one point she showed us a wooden doll like wooden toy. It simulated two people having sex. This is the way that sex was explained to children. Our guide was probably about 25 years old. She was Christian yet she had an arranged marriage. The custom is for not only Hindus to have arranged marriages in Goa. She said that parents are very conservative and her mother had never had a discussion with her about sex. She had no idea what was happening on her wedding night. She now has a 5 year old daughter and plans to explain the facts of live to her. Progress is being made. She also said she divorced her husband who, she said drank too much. She would like to remarry but needs to find a man that will accept her daughter.
We continued our drive down toward the south of Goa. It was a several hour drive but very interesting. We finally arrived at the southern tip and the Intercontinental Hotel. We went to Kashmera’s room. She was about to have a rehearsal for her show, and we chatted for awhile until she left. We then showered and changed into our good clothes. Kash returned from the rehearsal and started to get ready for the show. She brought with her from Mumbai, a manager, a makeup artist and a woman that does her hair. We watched her get prepared. It was fascinating to watch as they applied her makeup. She has beautiful features to begin with and the object was to make her up so that under the glare of lights, her makeup won’t run and her features can be seen from the farthest table. It was fun to watch as different cosmetics were applied and glitter was attached to her eyelids. Finally a “Fix It Spray” was applied. While this was happening her hair was being worked upon. She was to have several changes of clothes and wigs in the show.
We all left her room, like an entourage heading to the venue and backstage with her. The show was outdoors with the audience at tables eating and drinking. The show was the highlight of a Bridgestone Tire rewards event. We got to see the Japanese Manager award the regional stores for the best performance. We cheered with the rest of the crowd as the Ahemdabad Good Fit Tyre won the championship and came to the stage accompanied by the ever popular hit: Jai Ho. It is amazing what some wine will do for you. We had lots of food to eat and watched the show.
Kashmera was the star of the show. She started out, as a disguised as a man in a review sort of looking like a worker in overhauls. She then took off the overhauls showing the real Kash. The audience (mostly men) went crazy as she danced her Bollywood numbers. She is a great dancer and everyone was taking pictures and movies of her. She did several numbers and at the end went into the audience dancing with the happy Bridgestone group. She definitely brought the audience to their feet. During the show it began to rain. We were in our nice clothes and just stayed outside and enjoyed the warm rain. In Bollywood movies there are always dance numbers where they are singing and dancing in the rain as their clothes get soaked. Here we were doing the same. It was like we were extras in a movie. Because it was warm we didn’t get chilled. After the show we thanked Kashmera, changed our clothes and headed back to Northern Goa, to our heritage accommodations. It was raining all the way, and our driver Alex was exceptional – no way would I drive at night in the rain in India. In fact I wouldn’t drive in the daytime if it was dry.
At night many cars and trucks don’t use their lights and the roads are narrow. It was quite the trip. We made it. Great day!
Monday, November 9, 2009
We flew to Goa from Aurangabad. Unfortunately there are no direct flights, so we had to fly back to Mumbai, and then catch a flight to Goa. Goa is a very thin and long state located on the Arabian Sea. It was colonized by Vasco da Gama in 1497 for the Portuguese and when India became a country it remained a possession of Portugal. It was only in 1961 that the Indian Army essentially took the state over making it a part of India.
Unusually for India the population is about 45 Percent Catholic, 45 Percent Hindu, 10 Percent Muslim and others. In the 60’s it was a hippy paradise, lots of pot, beautiful beaches, laid back life style, extremely picturesque villages and jungles. There are lots of old houses with Portuguese architecture and historic churches. We aren’t big on historic churches. Apparently nothing has changed much. It still is laid back, partying kind of place. We were met by our guide, who was so laid back he didn’t help us with our luggage. He started to explain what we were to do, and was totally inflexible. All of our previous guides have been great. We were very disappointed and knew it wouldn’t work out with him.
We arrived at a historic mansion that has been restored. They took us upstairs to two gigantic suites. Huge rooms with high ceilings, antique furniture and immense bathroom. It was a perfect restoration of a 400 year old house, so perfect that apparently 400 years ago they didn’t have air-conditioning. Our rooms were very hot. It was nearly 100 and the humidity was very high. We were drenched with sweat. There was no way we could stay in these charming, historic and insanely hot rooms. We called our contact for the tour and basically said, enough with charming historic, we want air-conditioning. Roughing it wasn’t in our plan. The internet is very spotty here and I won’t be able to blog. The windows were interesting, they stack mother of pearl from abalone or oyster shells between slats, if makes a translucent water proof barrier. We also contacted Kashmera, who said she would try and find us someplace to stay.
A coupe of minutes later the woman who runs the place, came up to us and said what if I moved you into air-conditioned rooms? We checked it out, and they did have two nice rooms with AC. We had no idea that they did. It was just the front suites that didn’t have AC. All is well that ends well. They have a general purpose, driver and man that knows Goa extremely well, as one of their many employees. (the staff to guest ratio must be about 4 to 1). His name is Alex and he is great. He makes anything happen, like a bottle of cold wine and the best cashews we have ever eaten. Speaking of cashews they grow all over Goa. Bizarre nut, the cashew tree grows a fruit that is the size of a pair, at the bottom of the fruit is the cashew nut, it is on the outside of the fruit not like a pit. They also make a very strong liqueur from it called Feni.
Alex drove us to a seafood restaurant by one of the beaches. Everywhere there are seafood restaurants. Goa reminds us of a tropical island, in fact we keep thinking we are on an island. It is very tropical with tons of beaches. At the restaurant we ate on an open veranda eating lobster, shrimp and other dishes cooked in typical Goan fashion. After dinner we took a walk on the beach. It was lightly raining and yet it was fun to walk in the warm rain, I forgot what that was like. When it rains in LA you don’t want to be out in it, it is very cold not like Goa. We returned to our air-conditioned rooms. Tomorrow we see Kashmera perform.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Today we headed out for Ajanta. It is approximately 100 Kilometers from Aurangabad by our van. That equates to about 55 miles. It took about 2 ½ hours to get there. These are also called caves, but like Ellora they are not natural, but man made. These are all dug out of the lava flow, unlike Ellora where many of the structures are created by cutting out from the top to create the monoliths.
After driving on our van for 2 ½ hours, we left the van and then walked thru a small area of hawkers and vendors to arrive at a different set of special buses that would drive us to the foot of the Ajanta Caves. We then hired porters, who carried us in sedan stairs up the steep mountain side to where the caves are actually located. We have often read about people being transported in sedan chairs or palanquins, this was a first for us. As you can see in the picture, the chair is supported by two poles, and carried by 4 men, 2 front, 2 in the back, resting the poles on their shoulder. They carried us up steep stairs and inclines until we reached the caves, far above the floor of the canyon.
Ellora is shaped like a giant horse shoe, with a very narrow gorge at the bottom, and high volcanic mountains on either side. The caves are quite far up the mountain and were lost for over 1000 years. They were rediscovered in the early 1800’s.
Unlike Ajanta, which have caves that are Hindu, Buddhist and Jain, all of Ellora is Buddhist. The caves date back to 200 BC and you can see the paintings from those early times.
Some of the caves are as recent as 300AD. The paintings are extremely modern in feel, showing emotion, depth of field, amazing use of color, etc. It truly is an amazing experience to be among these paintings and sculptures.
Our guide was fabulous, constantly explaining Buddhism and the stories told in the paintings and sculptures. I have previously experienced much Indian Art as an extreme conglomeration of deities, covering every square inch of a wall or ceiling. He explained to us the story and showed how in many cases it was portrayed linearly, but rather it was all there, scrambled like a puzzle to be figured out. The ordinary people who would observe the sculpture or paintings would know the story and be able to figure it out. In addition, he went into great depth explaining the very strict Indian rules for painting and sculpture that would be the constraints within which the artisans would work. We enjoyed it immensely. The guide walked took us to various caves that explained the life, incarnations, and enlightenment of The Buddha. We ended at a fabulous reclining Buddha sculpture showing his death. It was extremely moving to follow his path in these caves.
The caves are very dark and I had my favorite LED Flashlight that we used to illuminate the art. He was amazed at my flashlight, and I wound up trading it to him for his. He was very touched.
We were very aware that unlike the Taj Mahal, there were very few foreign tourists at Ajanta & Ellora. It was being visited by probably 90% Indians. It is difficult to get here, but we really felt it was one of the highlights of our visits to India.
We returned to the Taj Hotel, had a great dinner, packed, and prepared to fly tomorrow to the Indian State of Goa. It is a thin state hugging the Arabian Sea south of Maharashtra (The state Bombay is in). It is thought of as the Hawaii of India because of its weather and beaches. We plan to Kash perform at The Intercontental Hotel in Goa, the day after tomorrow.
Friday, November 6, 2009
We made our 4am wake up call and headed to the Mumbai Airport for our flight to Aurangabad. We were going to Aurangabad to visit to sites: Ajanta and Ellora.
It will take two days to see the two sites. We checked into the Taj in Aurangabad and headed out with our exceptional guide Amod to see Ellora, tomorrow we will visit Ajanta.
World Heritage Sites are places that UN has listed as so exceptional that they must be protected at all costs. These are the most sensitive and important archeological sites in the world. These are where we want to visit. The critical point is that when the World Heritage Sites in India were first announced they chose Ajanta and Ellora before they chose the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is fabulous beyond belief, we loved visiting it. Yet Ajanta and Ellora were chosen first. What are they and why were they chosen before the Taj Mahal. The answer to that is why we were in Aurangabad.
I can only speak about Ellora for that is where we spent the day. Ellora is thought of as ancient caves. They aren’t caves, for caves are made by nature. These are carved in solid rock formation by man.
There are two techniques in carving into rock. Start from the front, carve into the rock, create a sanctuary and carve some statues into the walls. This is called naturally enough “Cutting in”. We visited a cutting in series of caves and were very impressed.
We then had our minds blown by seeing the complex of Kailash. No picture can do it justice (by the way the same is true of the Taj Mahal – no matter how many pictures of it you have seen, you must see it in person to appreciate it). Kalish is a gigantic temple carved from the side of the mountain into the lava rock. This is known as “Cut out Monolith”. The critical point is they started from the to of the mountain and simply removed stone leaving a multistoried huge complex. No statues our walls or roofs or statuary were brought here, this is one gigantic structure built by cutting away rock. It is impossible to imagine how this was done. It is unbelievable! These complexes were originally Jain Religion, Buddhist, or Hindu depending upon who was using them at the time. We had a fabulous guide who discusses at length the Jain Religion (which is only in India and predates Buddhism). Our guide was a delight and incredibly intelligent. It was like a college seminar in comparative religion and philosophy.
Once again he used the sculptures to explain the Hindu Epics. We loved it!
We then went to a cave that topped our day. It was a Buddhist Chaitya or meditation of prayer hall. When you walk into this cave you think you are in Gothic Church with a gigantic Buddha. It is a serene environment with perfect acoustics. Our guide chanted a Buddhist Prayer and it sounded like a choir as reverberated in the cave.
Ellora is one of those places you must go to experience the magic of India. These structures are from 500 AD, it is truly amazing!
Tomorrow we visit Aganta, a very different World Heritage Site.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
We spent a lot of the day in Coloba, the area surrounding the Taj Hotel. It is the oldest part of Mumbai and very colorful. First, however, we taxied over to a Kahdi Store. These stores sell fabric that is hand made in the villages. The fabric can then be stitched into shirts, pants, saris, etc. No one in this group bought a sari.
When we returned to the hotel we went back to a lot of the stores we knew from previous visits. It was lots of fun checking out the Indian fashions. Bombay is very hot about 95 degrees. They call this season winter. I would hate to be here in summer.
Kash and Krushna had provided a driver for us, but we actually never used him. We planned to drive to Bandra to meet them for dinner, but time got away from us. Instead, they drove to the Taj to pick us up and go out to dinner.
We went to one of our favorite seafood restaurants: Trishna. Johnny Apple of the The New York Times wrote it was one of his top 10 restaurants in the world. We think it is. It turns out that Kash and Krushna have never been there.
As soon as we entered, all heads turned towards us. Kash said that it is like that where ever they go. One person came up said what a fan he was and recommended a dish that we should get. Krushna got up to go the bathroom, and when someone came out they took his picture. It is amazing to be around stars. In reality, they crave the attention. The most amazing thing is that when a camera turns on them, they light up with smiles that are fabulous. I feel I never have a good picture taken of me, they almost never have a bad picture taken.
The fan suggested we get Bombay Duck. Turns out that Bombay Duck is a white fish. The food at the restaurant is very peppery and delicious. They served us fantastic Crab with Pepper sauce and a calamari dish. Krushna who is quite the cook and gourmand said it was some of the best fish he has ever had! That is quite a complement coming from him. We ate the entire dinner Indian Style, using just our right hand and no cutlery. It was a fun way to eat. We owe Kash and Krushna some great dinners when they return to Los Angeles. When we left the owner came over and wanted their autographs.
We were up early for a walking tour of historic Coloba. Our guide was great and explained the architecture and history of the area. Because it was a walking tour we had to cross many streets. We got to experience Indian driving from the pedestrians point of view. Unless you are a cow (no one would ever hit a cow in India) you have to have nerves of steel just to cross the street. Our guides motto was: No hurry, No Worry. Not a bad motto. We will use her upon our return to Bombay to discover areas that we want to see. In the afternoon we visited the Art Museums in the area. We also picked up the local paper where there was a paparazzi shot of Kash and Krushna from the Bollywood party we went to with them the previous night.
We packed and ate dinner at the hotel, for tomorrow we get up at 4:00am to leave for the airport to fly to Aurangabad, the gateway to the World Heritage Sites of Ajanta and Ellora. Hope there is Internet Connectivity in Aurangabad. Hope I can get up at 4:00am
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Our flight to Bombay was delayed but we finally reached the city. Kashmera and Krushna were there to meet us at the airport. We sent our bags on to The Taj and we joined Kash and Krushna. They had an additional car and driver, so we caravanned to Juhu.
Being close to Film City where the most of the Bollywood Films are made, Juhu is the home for many of the stars. We were driving with Kash and she pointed out Big “B’s” bungalow (as they call their mansions) Aishwarya Rai’s, etc.
We were headed for the Marriott in Juhu. The hotel is where a lot of stars go, because the have security and won’t be hassled. Most hotels are gated and cars are checked upon arrival. Here the security was intense. A bomb sniffing dog pranced around us, aside from opening the trunk they checked the engine compartment of the car. . In front of us were solid steel car barriers which, once we were inspected, hydraulically retracted into the payment so that the car could proceed. It is amazing being with glamorous stars, heads all turn to look at Kash and Krushna. We all commented that it was a shame Timmy wasn’t here. He would have loved it.
There are many restaurants in the hotel, but the Buffet is the star. This is a huge with excellent food. The chef came over to say hello. He could be a movie star, huge buff man with an incredible deep voice.
We probably spent 3 hours talking and drinking. K & K planned to take us to a private Bollywood Party at a nearby club for an actress friend of hers. We caravanned over and entered the party which was help at a club right on the Juhu beach. We don’t go to Hollywood parties and here we were halfway around the world at a Bollywood one.
There were paparazzi and TV reporters everywhere. The most interesting thing was that when we entered the party, the paparazzi turned towards us. It is amazing being on the other end of the camera. Kash and Krush light up when a camera is turned towards them. There probably were 15 photographers taking our picture (bet that wouldn’t have happened it K & K didn’t have their arms around us). Because of the flashes coming from all of the cameras you can’t see anything. You just stand there and smile. Glad I had brushed my teeth.
Cathy was introduced to a woman TV director and spent a lot of time talking to her. We met a gay couple that has invited us to a dinner and party for tomorrow night. Every time a new star entered the room, air kisses were a plenty, cameras clicked and the buzz continued. The people were dressed very casual, designer jeans, baseball caps, open shirts for the men etc. This was Bombay it was 95 degrees at 1am. What were doing up at 1am?
We left the party and caravanned down to the beach, for a short visit and to look at the Arabian Sea. Juhu is very nice! Especially when you are escorted by movie stars!
Their driver then drove us to the Taj, where we arrived about 2am. This glamorous life can be hard on your sleep.