HAL 2019 World – Day 68 Mumbai, India (formerly Bombay) – Day 1

April 2, 2019 Paul Groves

Mumbai sits on a large natural bay and is India’s largest and most important import/export harbor.  It is a huge city with over 18 million inhabitants which is over 4 times the population of Los Angeles while being half the size so the population density is very high.

Our four hour tour today is called “Marvels of Mumbai”.

Our first stop on the tour was the “Gateway To India”.  This stone arch was built to commemorate the landing of British King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.  After India’s independence, the last British troops passed through the Gateway on their way out in a ceremony on February 28, 1948, signalling the end of British rule.  Nearby was the beautiful Taj Mahal Hotel.  We had visited this site on the 2017 cruise so we didn’t take many pictures.

Next we made a photo stop at Victoria Terminus railway station (now called Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station).  This was built during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee year and is still used as a railway station today.  Over 500,000 people pass through it every day.  With the renaming of the station, Victoria’s statue was removed because,  as our guide said, “she is no longer worshipped here”.

Our next stop was at the world famous laundry “Dhobi Ghat”.   Clothes are collected from all over the city and brought here for washing.  The tanks are filled with water and soap and the clothes are slapped/beaten against the stone.  The tank is emptied and clean water is used to rinse the clothes.  They are hung outside to dry.  The clothes are collected, ironed if needed, folded and returned to their owners.  While it may look like chaos, the process is so effective only a handful of mistakes out several hundreds of thousands deliveries have been made.  There are several of these sites throughout the city.  Today most of their business comes from commercial sources e.g. hotels and hospitals, as many private customers have their own washing machines.

Our final stop was at a home called “Mani Bhavan”.  Mahatma Gandhi lived here from 1917-1934.

The ground floor is a library.  Along the walls in the library are framed quotations from Gandhi.  The upper quote written in English with the same quote repeated at the bottom written in Hindi. 

The first floor is a display of photos, correspondence, and writings by him or about him.  The tribute by Albert Einstein is particularly moving.

The second floor contains his bedroom and dioramas of significant events in his life.  

The bedroom has been kept as it was when he lived and worked here; just a bed and a few personal items.  The room was touching in its simplicity.

At first glance each of the dioramas contain what appears to be dolls posed for the event.  However on a closer look you see that these are not dolls but sculptures that look like the people they are meant to portray.  These two dioramas show his assassination and cremation.

It was from this building that his “Nonviolent Civil Resistance” and “Non-cooperation” moments began.

We returned to the ship shortly thereafter.

Later that night a local dance group,  Sumeet Nagdev Dance Arts, came on board and presented a show about the famous Indian General, Baji Rao. The show was a mix of both classical and “Bollywood” dance styles and was entertaining and effective.