Saturday, March 06, 2010

Memorable Mumbai Moments

If you have been a faithful reader of Dan’s blog thus far, please note that today’s entry is not written by Dan. His traveling companions offered to give him a day off since this has been a rather time consuming endeavor on his part. But, we also wanted to use this opportunity to set the record straight.

Martha, Thom, Usha, Clark, and myself (Cindy) want you to know a few things about what this blog posting will not be:

1. Because I’m writing, this entry will not be very funny.

2. In this entry you will not see a picture of yet another meal that Dan hasn’t REALLY eaten. He pretty much bypasses anything remotely more spicy that plain celery.

3. In this entry, Dan will not rely on the excellent photography of Martha and Clark, all the while pretending that the great pictures he’s posting are his. Today we are using photos that only Dan took with his very own camera (well…actually with Chloe’s very own camera).

What this blog entry WILL be, however, is factual (something Dan sometimes has trouble distinguishing). You can surely trust me. After all, its only been 5 weeks since I retired from pastoral ministry!

Here are a few things we have learned about Dan on our trip to India:

1. Dan pretends to not like shopping, yet he was the first to break out an extra empty suitcase for souvenirs to take home. EVERY place we shop, he buys! Lucky Jill, Chloe, Jasmine, and Anthony!

2. Dan pretty much lives on mango drinks.

3. Dan cannot keep straight Usha’s relatives and frequently stumbles into a situation where his foot must be retracted from his mouth.

4. Dan does not only take pictures of food, he also takes pictures of the many Indian bathrooms we have being using.

We’ll get back to Dan in a minute, but we really did want you to know something about our short time in Mumbai. On April 5, we traveled from Usha’s house (where we had such a wonderful time) in Jalna to Aurangabad. We then flew to Mumbai (formerly Bombay) to stay with Usha’s parents overnight. Usha had some work commitments (including a television interview) so her sister, Prema, was kind enough to accompany us for the afternoon. Prema is the physician that Usha has been continually consulting about our various illnesses. We had a wonderful lunch at Swatis (one of our best meals so far) before more shopping – as per Dan’s request.

We sampled several dishes new to us all. Clockwise from the bottom center are: Onion rava dosa, plain panki, dhan shak, satpati, and plain dosa. Not pictured were the mint panki, the pani puri, sweet can juice, coconut milk drink, and several rounds of home made ice cream.

Returning to the Barwale home we were once again greeted with warm and gracious hospitality. I like the custom in India where there are multiple generations living in the same household, and in this particular family, Usha’s brother (Raju), sister-in-law (Sushama), and their son (Aashish) live with Usha’s parents (Badrinarayan and Goumati). All but Usha’s parents went to dinner at a sports’s club called Bombay Gym where we ate outdoors while watching a soccer game in progress. For all you in cold climates, yes, I did say outdoors. Several other family members joined us for this delightful meal, and we five guests were treated royally. Clark maybe expressed it best when he said: “They made us feel like we were actually part of their family.”

In the morning we gathered around the table for our best breakfast yet.

Samosas, Dhokla, upma, and cheese toast.

Soon after breakfast we made a leisurely trip to the airport, stopping on the way for me to buy a couple of cookbooks so I can cook some authentic Indian food when we get home. I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to have Usha over for dinner, but we’ll see.


Thom and Dan: They both mentioned that one of their favorite Mumbai moments was “hanging out” in the street while our drivers tried to explain what was going on and pointing out all the makes and models of taxis.

Martha: “Being with Usha’s family and eating together at the Bombay Gym was a highlight for me.”

Clark: I really enjoyed sitting with Usha’s father and hearing his many stories, especially the ones about the first times he visited the U.S.

Cindy: I enjoyed being at the Barwale’s, too. Everyone was so gracious to us, and although Mrs. Barwale had just gotten out of the hospital on the day we arrived, she didn’t seem to mind the extra folks around. Martha and I received beautiful scarves from her as we left. In the spirit of Dan always choosing a new adjective to describe Usha, we dub her “tender Usha” today for the caring way she interacted with her mother.

One other lasting impression we came away with is the stark disparity of the high rise, modern buildings of Mumbai, right next to the slums. Perhaps Dan will post a picture of that tomorrow.

Back to Dan…

I asked each of our group to tell me something they thought the readers of this blog should know about Dan. Here are their actual responses:

USHA: I never knew Dan was so funny.

THOM: Dan is inquisitive and maintains a sense of humor for the group. EDITORIAL COMMENT: Does anyone else think it strange that Thom should say something this positive about Dan considering this next picture?

MARTHA: Dan is always looking at what he might bring home for his family. EDITORIAL COMMENT: What a nice way Martha spins the truth – Dan just plain likes to be in Indian shops!

CLARK: I am really impressed with the great job Dan is doing on this blog because if I was doing it, this wouldn’t feel like a vacation. EDITORIAL COMMENT: Let’s be honest, Clark, we wouldn’t even know how to do it!)

CINDY: I have no medical proof, but we’re highly suspicious that all the various “bugs” we’ve contracted originated with Dan. Don’t let it bother you, Dan, that due to illness, I missed out on the camel safari, jeep safari, the program by Indian musicians and dancers, and the entire desert experience.

Seriously, Dan, we are all happy you are on this trip with us, and we deeply appreciate your commitment to this project. We’ll have a lasting journal of our experiences because of your work, and let’s face it...sending you back to your room every night to write and download pictures keeps you out of trouble!

One last Dannism…He actually said the following just as we all headed back to our respective rooms for the night: “I hope we have time to shop tomorrow, I still have more things to buy.”

Respectfully submitted by Cindy Breeze


Dan S said...

I was told I would not be allowed to change any of Cindy’s text, but would be allowed a rebuttal in the comments section. I guess my main comment is that Cindy seems to subscribe to one of my own writing tenets: “never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” :)

It’s true that I’m a stressed out shopper. I’m on the hook to bring back some good stuff, but, being unable to differentiate the good stuff from the bad stuff, my strategy is to buy a little bit here and little bit there with the hope that at least some of it will be desired when I get home. And as for shopping in Mumbai, you’ll note that Thom and I were out in the street while everyone else was…shopping. Also, I want to caution my family not to get too excited about what I’m bringing back – see above.

It was nice to take a day off from blogging – thanks to Cindy for writing it up. And it’s not her fault she didn’t know that celery is one of my least favorite foods. :)

Seriously, she and everyone have been a lot of fun to travel with. I think the reason this trip has gone so well is that Usha is in charge and we just follow her. There’s no need to figure out where to go, where to eat, what to do, etc. That tends to be 90% of the conflict when my family gets to together.

We are in Kochi now and will take a tour of the area today. More later…

lara said...

Hi, Mom. I guess I believe it's you and not Dan impersonating you. Enjoy your last few days, everyone! And thanks Dan (and mom) for keeping us updated on your journey.

Christopher said...

Watch out for those commies in Kerala.

Mary said...

For a post that's supposedly "not funny" this one sure gave me a lot of smiles. Thanks, everyone, for the great blog!!

PG said...

Too bad Cindy no longer has pastoral clout to enforce a new First Menno policy. Given that so many members travel all over the world, I think travel blogging of this order should be a requirement for membership. Share with one another. This is the happy way.

Anonymous said...

Dan and Cindy, you are very entertaining travelogue writers. I enjoy reading the blog and hearing of your adventures.
Cindy, you mention traveling on April 5th...I knew there was a time difference between here and India, but wow that's mind boggling.
Continue to have fun, and safe travels home.

Anonymous said...

Loved your commentary. Thanks for straightening us out about Dan. And for the rest of you on your comments about him, too. Now we have the real picture.
Enjoy the rest of your trip and we'll see you back in C-U soon.

Hilary said...

Love the community blogging!

Mom, so I guess it's cool that we move in with you and dad then, if we ever get back to Champaign? You really liked that intergenerational custom, right? Right?!