A week in Mumbai, India ~ with Brook

Of all the characters who have floated in and out of lives during the six years we lived in Nicaragua, Brook was always the most unpredictable.
A knock at the door… and a whirlwind of energy and adventure would enter. Usually via motorbike or after hours on a long dusty bus ride from where ever she had been teaching yoga or surfing, Brook has been an important part of our lives. We have shared many moments and good times together!
Brook is a fellow nomad with years and miles of travel under her belt. She has an extraordinary spirit of adventure and courage and is highly independent.
Brook and I, (Peta) keep in touch and we vowed that after Nicaragua we would meet up again somewhere else in the world, but preferably in Asia. We narrowly “missed” each other in Indonesia, with her leaving about the time we were arriving…  She was instrumental in our decision to go to Sri Lanka, a country we knew nothing about, after she met and befriended a Sri Lankan while in Indonesia who invited her to his country.
The opportunity presented itself to connect in India and this time we were determined to make it happen. Brook was heading to a city at the foot of the Himalayan mountains to teach yoga anatomy and we were making our way from Sri Lanka to Southern India. We picked a mid point and set a date. Miraculous for both her and for us to actually be able to set a date and to manage to stick to it. The three of us have strong spontaneous streaks and sticking to strict schedules weeks ahead is not the way we roll!
All this to say, we made it, we did it and man it was so very sweet a reunion!
Many hours talking…
Being super chill amidst the chaos of Mumbai traffic… walking to Juhu Beach together.
This is SOOO much fun!!!
Juhu Beach is  frequented by Bollywood stars. (Bollywood is in Bombay/Mumbai.) Being blonde and a hottie, Brook certainly captured the crowds attention. We had non stop requests for taking our photo ~  happy to oblige the crowds.
Peanut seller at Juhu Beach.
Large sand sculpture of Ganesh.
Ben and Brook. Fellow Sagittarians.
Not sure how and why anyone would drink anything that clearly has such a strong food coloring content, but this liquid seems to be a popular item poured over crushed ice, at Juhu Beach.
Enjoying some yummy Indian vegetarian bites at Juhu beach, known for its snack food.
There are many street vendors right on the beach selling their one bite specialties. “Puri” is definitely one of our favourites.. crispy small shell filled with a contrasting spicy sweet sauce and crunchy veggies.
No other foreigners on this beach to be seen! Therefore, we are attracting a fair amount of attention from the local beach goers.
Yum!! Puri maddness… Pop, pop, pop.
End of day after the heat has subsided, the beach draws quite a crowd wading, socializing, eating and taking photos of each other.
Introducing Brook to “roasted paper” Dhosa with a variety of chutneys.

Mumbai is a bustling, hectic, noisy, hot and expensive city. Hotel prices are higher than anything we have come close to paying in the last 14 months of Asian travel. So we had to get creative….

Yup, we are staying at the Hare Krishna Guesthouse!

A hotel was built to accomodate the massive numbers of people coming to the Hare Krishna Temple in Mumbai. It is open to the public, but clearly we are the first foreigners and non Hare Krishna followers to be staying here. However, it turns out to not only be a great experience, but we also have a huge room with a balcony which accomodates all three of us at a reasonable price.

So what’s it like to stay at a Hare Krishna Guesthouse? There were constant calls to prayer by both bells and singing starting at four a.m. Ben and I slept through these, but Brook, being an early morning person, was up and at the Bikram yoga meditations and chanting each day.

Over 10,000 pilgrims a day visit the temple to participate in the highly festive constant singing, praying, religious rituals. Brightly colored gods receive garlands of flowers, incense, lighted candles and chanting. There are also those who throw themselves flat on the ground in prayer.

By the time we left, we had adjusted to life at the temple. We too ended each sentence with “Hare Krishna..” So it sounded something like this…”We would like three teas. Hare Krishna.” ~ “Good morning. Hare Krishna.”

The largest Hare Krishna temple in all of India. Right here, in the middle of the hotel. Bright colors match the happy spirit and boisterous singing. The words are simple….you guessed it… “Hare Krishna, Hare Krisha.. Hare, Hare, Krishna, Krishan” Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
This was our awesome balcony where we practised yoga each day with Brook ~ our own private yoga teacher, with a “touch of anatomy”.

As it happens, another friend met in Nicaragua, Monica, has been living in Bombay for a year now. Monica is a fellow animal lover who has a long history working with monkeys, starting in Africa.

What brought her to Mumbai? A love of the Brazilian martial art form Capoeta which has a centre in Mumbai. What kept her in Mumbai? Falling in love with an Indian guy, also a Capoeta aficionado.

http://www.greenglobaltrek.com/2013/04/lolo-the-capuchin-monkey.html

Macacco, Monica and Peta.
It’s rare for Hindu temples to allow non Hindus inside. This one in our neighbourhood was the exception. Part of the ritual involves seriously loud bell ringing. Brook is up to the task!
Long garlands of flowers for temple attendees being sold outside the Hindu temple and Hare Krishna center.
Local color on our neighborhood street.
At Bombay airport, the three of us take a plane to Delhi together for a day there before Brook heads back to the U.S.

In Delhi we find ourselves staying in the middle of a large market area in a working class neighborhood. We are here for two days ~ Brook is heading back to the States and Ben has some business meetings in Delhi.

The street is full of early morning rickshaw drivers.
Getting ready for Diwali, the biggest celebration religious and secular holiday all rolled into one ~ The Indian New Year. Diwali is called the Festival of Lights. Houses and streets are strung with small lights, people buy new clothing and eat all manner of sweets and desserts for a sweet new year.
Hindu posters of gods for sale outside a temple on a street in the market in Delhi.
The streets around our neighborhood are teaming with Diwali shoppers.
Marygold prayer garlands used to decorate people’s homes, cars, shrines and temples
Hinduism is characterized by a mind-blowing number of gods and demi-gods.  Here, Haruman, the Monkey God.
Hindu goddess in the Monkey Temple

All the shopping and temple going activities stir up a hunger for dosa.  Luckily, dosa stands are omni-present.

Dosa is a popular breakfast item. Here a vendor is making three of them at once, swirling the batter, turning and rolling. The line of customers is constant.
Breakfasts are served fast and furious. Stand at the counter, eat, make room for the next customer.
Crispy and thin dosas broken off with ones right hand and dipped into the various chutneys which are served with dosa.
Looking pretty in peach. Breakfast companion at the dosa stand.
The streets in Delhi are always full of surprise and color. A group of blind religious men in bright orange, playing music are part of the crowd going by.

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