The peafowl, better known as the peacock (peahen if female) is the bird of India. I suppose I should have said the Loon has landed as I am Canadian, but that just makes me sound loony (The Loon has Landed!!).
I am situated in Mumbai, in the Versova Beach area. I stay with Gursheel, the woman I met the last time I was here, and we have become fast friends. Gursheel is a yoga teacher, the real deal, and is also an Within her home, roam two rescue cats: Rumi and Shams. They have a love/hate relationship but it works.
The temperatures here are a wee bit on the crazy side I thought I was accustomed to such things as hot weather as once upon a time I lived here…but…wow! It has been baptism by heat! Upon Landing, I was greeted with 28 C with high humidity,, and that was at 1:30AM! During the day it reached 38+ C and high humidity! I am simply blown away at how UN-accustomed I am to this weather now. The people that continue to work outside and around in this, are my new heroes: my first day in Mumbai I accomplished nothing more than several naps, lots of water imbibing, and feeling nauseous. That was it. We did manage to go for a walk at the end of our day, after the sun set, and lasted only 45 minutes with me meandering along the path while Gursheel was speed walking.
There are some really enjoyable breezes wafting in from the ocean. The monsoon season will be here in six weeks time so the humidity levels are building : these breezes are like blessings from above. While I sit here typing, the breezes touching my back and blowing my hair around, I listen to the jackhammers and concrete workers outside, likely sweltering under the heat of the sun. I wonder if they feel these same breezes.
My trip to India started from NYC a day ago: I flew to Frankfurt and spent a lovely six hours in the Lufthansa lounge, bribing my body to stay awake long enough to get on the plane where I would take my trusty ‘ol sleeping pill that would ensure jet lag not trouble me on arrival. All things worked out as planned and I managed to sleep, maybe not as long as hoped, and I even got to watch a movie before my flight ended.
As my plane approached Mumbai to land, and as I watched the lights of the city come in to view, I wondered how it would feel to step out in to the country I have come to love. Each time I return I wonder the very same thing. As i disembarked from the behemoth of a plane I rode in on, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that I was not met with the smells so reminiscent of India. Where were those pungent odours that spoke to so much chaos, and culture, and wonder, and food?
I walked on past the flight attendants, moved past the man pulling on his broken-wheeled baggage, and in to the lovely and modern Mumbai airport. Spacious, new, and gleaming with all things material to purchase, this place was no different than any other international airport. I walked on in to and past the passport control area (yes, I stopped first!), and found my luggage, on the belt and incredibly in good shape considering the long journey it had. I organized my things and headed for the exit: I was longing to get outside to where I knew I would be greeted with those familiar sensations of India.
The prepaid taxi voucher in hand, I maneuvered my luggage to the automatic doors, and as I went through those doors, the anticipated and welcomed assault began! The smells hit my olfactory first, then the heat awakened my realization that I had too many clothes on, and then the sounds of calling taxi drivers insisting that I pay attention to their offers hit my ears. Ahhhh India! I was back! This Canadian loon had found herself right back in the arms of the Indian peafowl and was loving the sensations!
After much discussion, the taxi driver was decided and I was on my way. Google maps was showing the journey to my temporary home to be not so far away, but with the lack of springs in the car (or at least the springs were not working), the drive was slow and arduous. Along the roadways throughout the cities, lay very large speed bumps, and unless you have a jacked up chassis and very flexible springs, you are not going over those bumps quickly. We drove along our route, slowly but certain, and made it safely to Gursheel’s home in the very early hours of the morning.
Her building had been under repairs the last time I was here and even in the darkness of the hour I could see the improvements. Approaching the main entrance sat the doorman at his desk, accompanied by the ever-present young boy clad in jeans and t-shirt, waiting to fetch whatever it was demanded of him. On the desk sat the phone, the sign-in book, and some other paraphernalia needed for the doorman to do his job. The flies were flitting around the brightly-lit LED lamps that were blinding on approach: why can’t LED lighting be more complimentary to tired travelers?
My taxi driver was pleasant and insisted on carrying my bags past the doorman and right up to the doors of the elevator (lyft). I pulled myself slowly out of the backseat of the taxi and clumsily walked towards my baggage: “namaste” I announced to the doorman, said Gursheel’s full name, nodded my head with the doorman’s nod, paid my taxi driver, giving him a smile and thanking him, and entered the lyft with my luggage, finally feeling the full affect of my travels. I was incredibly tired and would welcome sleep as soon as it came.
After greeting one another, Gursheel and I sat and chatted as friends do, for about an hour’s time. I had woken her upon my arrival and we recognized that sleep was needed for us both, so we called it a night. I was very happy to welcome my familiar room that was so generously supplied to me by my friend and quickly cleaned myself up to crawl in to bed for some overdue sleep.
Long planning, hard work, and lots of help, I was finally back to a place that holds a sort of magic for me. A place that speaks to my soul somehow, and I needed to make my time here well worth it. So for now, sleep and more sleep. Tomorrow would be a day of work.