We started the day with a lovely breakfast with Dan, Kevin and Jacinta. It was lovely to be in a warm and friendly family home. Then our first aim of the day was to acquire tickets for the train to Udaipur, which only goes 3 times a week. On line tickets were full but there is a system of buying last minute tickets fro the reservation office, and also a quota for foreign tourists.
We pedalled into the Mumbai traffic to the station. It was no worse than London – especially as there are no tuktuks in the south of Mumbai and no cows, both of which are our usual hazards! At the reservation office were told that there was no quota left but the last minute ticket system opens at 10. We filled out all the forms and gave our passport details in advance then on the dot of 10 the helpful assistant frantically typed away trying to reserve tickets for us. Our credit card did not work and in that time we lost the first set of tickets but we managed to get 2 tickets on the next class down – not next to each other but he assured us we will be able to rearrange seats when we are on the train. Goal 1 achieved. Booking the bikes on will be the next goal but we can only do that at the station luggage office, and so have to allow 2 hours before the train goes.
We then cycled down to the High Court – an enormous and grand building. As we wandered round the building we passed barristers in the same garb (although did not see any wigs) and peaked into court rooms, although none seemed to be in session. I glanced into a bit bigger grand hall and something seemed to be going on. We were ushered in to stand by the side. Then all the judges gradually wandered in, mostly men but some women judges in beautiful white saris. There was a large painting of Mahatma Gandhi and then a garland was put round the picture and each judge lined up to place flowers in front, followed by what looked like other lawyers.
Back out in the corridor I asked a young female lawyer what the ceremony was and she explained it was Gandhi day and they do this once a year. We got chatting and she invited us up to the bar mess for coffee. We were plied with more food and also met a very senior lawyer who had been leader of the Bombay Counsellors. She had very firm (and adverse) views about Modi and the current political state in India and was very concerned about how all the new judge appointments were ‘friends’ of the BJP. It was a fascinating discussion. Another chance conversation that took us behind the scenes.
From the High Court next stop was the bike shop of Dan’s friend Deepak, who had confirmed he had the right size inner tubes. Traffic was getting a bit more busy but manageable with lots of traffic police blowing whistles at major junctions. Deepak had been riding BMX bikes since the last 90s and said that cycling was gradually becoming more popular in India as people became more health conscious. A really nice guy.
From the bike shop we headed to Malabar Hill – the posh end of town – with views to Chowpatty beach and Marine drive and rested a while in the ‘Hanging Gardens’. Not much was hanging and there was not much shade, although the gardens were pretty.
We then headed back to the flat and spent the afternoon sorting things out, picking up more bits of pieces for the next stages of our travels and resting. In the evening we had said that we would like to take them all out for a meal to say thanks for their amazing hospitality. We met Dan’s girlfriend, Tania, who is a part time piano teacher and part time editor of scientific papers. We were taken to a lovely restaurant with great seafood – our most delicious meal yet!
Not many pictures today (we forgot to take the camera) and we had not been to many formal sites but felt we had got a good feel of the city by cycling round and had seen some magnificent buildings. It felt much like London – but sunnier!