Mumbai, India     22-3-2005                                                    more photos

We joined a tour in the afternoon that day, so in the morning we thought we should do a bit of walking around Mumbai ourselves. As soon as we were outside the port gate, a few women beggars came over with their children, some are still babies, to ask us for money. Actually, I expect more beggars lining the street, but I think the local authorities have done 'a bit of street management for the coming of the QEII.  These beggars were all filthy, and you could smell the stench of urine on the kids. It's like my first encounter of beggars in China: you wanted to help them so much but was told that you shouldn't as you'll attract a large crowd and things will get out of hand. This was a terrible feeling. They were very persistent, and on the way we kept telling Molly and Nancy how lucky they were compare to these children, and whenever they can they should help.

Our outing was cut short to a bare 45 minutes, as we couldn't walk without them tugging at us. So we waited for the afternoon tour, which took us to a few fascinating places, including Ghandi's home, and the Dhobi Ghat, an enormous low-cost outdoor laundry area. We got off our coach on a bridge, and spreaded out below us was a vast area of walled squares. In each of the squares, half naked men were sweating away beating clothing. Some threw themselves in the greyish water for a wash themselves. Hundreds and thousands of laundry are done  here everyday, and there is bleaching and starching and pressing service as well. You can see from a distance that it can't be very clean, but the clothing are delivered crispy straight and sparkly white nonetheless, proven by the straightly ironed whites shirts sported by most men on the street. Apparently, villagers from the countryside find work in these places most easily and earn a more reasonable standard of living. 

For the few days afterwards, we tried our best to remind Molly and Nancy of the people we saw that day, and try not to waste our food. But on the QEII, it was hard, as they did't care, they had plenty of food and would feed you  abundantly and luxuriously when you want it or not.