A Travellerspoint blog

Tea and a Pee at the Taj

Majestic Mumbai

sunny 32 °C

In a city teeming with slum-dwellers and street people it seems insensitive, even downright obscene, for visitors to pay up to four-thousand-dollars a night to stay at The Taj Hotel, so we only went for tea and a pee. Here’s Sheila enjoying a cup of White Darjeeling – the world’s most expensive blend…
We only had tea, (and a pee) at the Taj, but it interesting to note that a couple of cups cost us two and a half times as much as our entire dinner at a lowlier joint around the corner.
The Taj Hotel, built in 1903 by Jamsedji Tata, a Parsee, (the Zoroastrians who fled Persia in the 7th century to escape Muslim persecution), stands as a lasting memorial to the terrorism that rocked this city in 2008, and just as we had no desire to be constantly reminded of that dreadful event; neither had we a macabre voyeuristic interest in the millions of poor who struggle to subsist in the teeming slums and panhandle on the city’s rough streets. However, it is impossible to escape either. No tour of this enormous city would be complete without a visit to the Gateway of India, built to commemorate the visit of King George V in 1911, which became a focal point for the legions of press covering the terrorist attack…
…or to the Oberoi Hotel, the Victoria Railway Station or the Leopold Café, which all came under attack…
And it is impossible to ignore the grinding poverty on the streets of this city. The average income in Mumbai is four times the national average, which means that a city worker may receive a whopping four-thousand dollars a year. However, millions still live in the most depressing slums imaginable and it is inconceivable that they will ever escape.
On the plus side – Mumbai has a wealth of magnificent colonel-era buildings, like the Prince of Wales Museum...
…and The Mumbai University – designed by Sir Gilbert Scott who designed St. Pancras Station in London…
Mumbai is a truly vast city with a population exceeding 18 million, which means that we have seen only a fraction of it. However, if today’s papers can be believed, the city is about to shrink. Corrupt building practices are rife here, (though all kinds of corruption is rife), but, under pressure from the courts and public opinion, the city government has ordered the demolition of all illegal buildings. This means that more than 300 highrise tower blocks would have to come down – any bets on that actually happening?
Now, for those of you envying us our months of warm sunshine - You should know that The Times of India today reported that Mumbai is in the grip of one of the coldest winters on record. Nighttime temperatures have plummeted to a distinctly chilling low of 15 degrees, while daytime highs have barely crept above 32 degrees... Brrr!

Posted by Hawkson 07:35 Archived in India

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What magnificent structures. How sad that we haven't, as a species, learned how to create societies where beauty doesn't come at the cost of a decent standard of living for so many.

by Janet

Hi Sheila,
Your name came up yesterday in conversation with Deb Connors & Jeanie Paterson. I said I'd love to see your blog. It's been over 20 years so I don't know if you remember me from the days when I lived with Ike just down the road...
You look fabulous & very happy!
hugs & safe journeys,

by Kathy Penner

Wow....the cold must be shocking...thankfully, you got a little prep with the freezing temperatures during your polar bear swim!!
Thanks for the fabulous blog...I really enjoy the historical info as well as the great photos...Sheila is looking a little "unwashed" though. She's very brown, do you think she is rusting?

by catherine

Your pics and descripts had me recalling our visit to that teeming city on our way back from Nepal in 2001. It would seem that life has gone on in much the same way since then.....
When are you 2 back? I'm going back to France on Feb. 18th, and will be there till April 19th..I'll be dogsbodying for Ally and taking care of Sam when the 2nd one arrives

by Sharron and Harv

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