Waaay behind on my bloggage, so just a few words, and a pile of pictures of our ramble through some of Mumbai’s markets.
Started out in Crawford market – spices, vegetables, parakeets, plastic trinkets, and recognizably-large pieces of dead animals. Definitely where the locals bought their stuff, but enough tourists that there was a dilapidated sign requesting that tourists hire government-licensed porters for their shopping. Which was pointed out to us by the gentleman at the entrance sporting his government license badge.
But hey, he was amiable enough, and certain to be worth the entertainment value. Of course, he had a friend we should really visit who sold spices…
Nonetheless, great fun.
From there, northward, lost, wandering through the steel-pot market, the flower market – wreaths, leis, and bee-laden bowls of exotic blooms, the “wet and dry” market – full of frankincense and myrrth. Down backstreets past the block where painters and plumbers sat curbside, brushes in hand, waiting for customers. The auto parts market, where vendors engaged in bewildering specialties (we stumbled across the “car horn vendor” with car and scooter horns hanging, mobile-like from shoprfront; I suspect that shutting him down would singlehandedly reduce the noise pollution in Mumbai an appreciable amount).
On the way, we found the almost-hidden entrance to the Mumbadevi shrine, a Hindu shrine for the goddess after who the city was historically named (the Portuguese renamed it “Bombay”, and it was only pushed back to its original name when the Hindu nationalist party briefly gained power in recent election; locals usually still call the city “Bombay” except in official capacities).
Mumbadevi was a swirling mass of people, color, sounds and scents. We were pretty well lost and confused. After wandering a few minutes, overheard an English voice explaining something pedagogical, and angled in to listen. Turns out it was Katherine (Catharine, Kathryn?) Meyers (Miers, Meiers?) from Univesity of Connecticut (Conneti… oh, never mind) and her foreign study students. She briefed us on the process of how to buy an offering, where to take our shoes off, etc., and off we went. Temple drums pounding, bells jingling as somber silent priests held out sooty lamps for the faithful to hold their hands over. After we gave our offerings, we were each dabbed on the forehead with the little red smudge indicating that we’d been properly blessed, and sent on our way. Great fun and confusion for us, but as indicated above, no pictures.