Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Train tickets and Tumeric

After 20 some odd hours of traveling, I arrived in Mumbai late Sunday night. As the plane began to descend over the dimly lit streets, traffic still buzzing at 11pm, it finally hit me that I was going to be back in India. I couldn’t help but smile and as the wheels touched the ground, I caught myself whispering “Hello again India. Namaste”.

I found Liza and Ana outside of the airport and we took a cab back to the apartment. It is in the Andheri district of Mumbai. It’s a really nice place – simple and clean. We have three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen with a dining table. The landlord installed a water filter and a refrigerator earlier this week. There is even air conditioning and sporadic wireless internet in one of the bedrooms.

Yesterday morning Justin and I took the train to meet Sadaf (another HMS team member), in Mumbai Central. The line for train tickets was 2 hours long and we only had 20 minutes to get to Mumbai central if we were going to make it on time. We could either be late for our meeting or ride without a ticket and risk getting a 400rs fine (8 US$). A normal ride is about 5Rs. Justin already had a pass, so we decided that splitting the fine would be worth getting to Sadaf on time. My only request was that we ride together in first class so that if I got caught with a man yelling at me in Hindi for a train ticket, I wouldn’t be alone. Well, as soon as the train pulled into the station that plan flew out the window.

A stampede of men grabbed onto the already overcrowded first class car. Justin managed to get a hand inside the door and onto a pole to hang on to. There was no way I was going to try to squeeze myself into a car full of men. So at the last second I ditched justin and ran to the women’s car (always directly behind the first class car). It too was completely packed, but I was able to get one foot on board as the train pulled away from the station. Some of the other women pulled me all the way inside the car. I managed to get off on the correct stop and found Justin on the platform. I smiled “I didn’t get ticketed”. Just as I spoke a man in a white collared uniform shirt tapped Justin on the arm. Instinct told me to keep walking. I didn’t look back until I was a good fifty feet away. Justin had pulled out his pass and was showing it to the official. When he finally caught up with me we gave one another a look of relief and laughed all the way out of the station.

After meeting with one of Bombay’s Municipal schools for our project, Justin and Sadaf told me that they had found a woman close to where we live in Andheri that had agreed to give us cooking lessons. So from 3 to 6pm I was in a stranger’s kitchen learning to make things like Aloo Palak, Jeera rice, and three different kinds of Daal. It was so much fun. We ended up making a total of 8 different dishes. Watching Nalini cook was like watching a magician. She would throw ingredients into a pan – cumin seeds, red chili powder, onions, tomatoes, a hint of cinnamon and before we could say Tumeric (which seems to be in everything) she was handing us a spoon to taste her creation. Everything was phenomenal! We have our second class later this week.

Today we have a meeting with PSI (Population Services International) and will be running some errands around the city.

Love from Mumbai.

1 comment:

Bui said...

Annemieke! That was such an amusing read hahaha. I could imagine you in the train and everything. Keep posting- I will try to keep up! Hope all is well. How long are you going to be in Mumbai for? When do you leave for PC?

P.S. We use WaterGuard! hahaha. <3 PSI...