O.M.What the heck? I am in Mumbai?!! Wow, it is hard to believe I finally made it to this chaotic city. I am excited, I am nervous, and I may just be a tad scared. In my mind, if I can survive India, I can survive anywhere.
Having just experienced two ruralish towns in India, one of which being Anantapur, I feel that Mumbai is much more developed than if I had came here straight from Singapore or anywhere else I’ve previously traveled to so far on this trip. At least there is pavement on the ground and taxis around me. Despite my happy and positive images thus far, I’ve seen a great deal of poverty, filth, actual trash everywhere, and people living in the most unsanitary conditions. I’ve seen more poverty and unsanitary environment here than I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Yesterday I saw a woman with a mobility disability balancing on two wooden boards push herself through the filthy mud and rain. Everything is scarce and limited. Things I that I don’t even know were luxury items become so. Everything seems to have multiple purposes. For example, a piece of fabric cloth is a Kleenex tissue as well as a hand towel to dry your hands as well as something to wipe your face after eating some food all at the same time. A bed is not only a bed for three or more, but also a sofa/couch, storage space and a place for guests to rest. India has taught me, when resources and space is limited, you become very efficient, creative and resourceful.
Perhaps it seems especially filthy because I came right in the middle of the monsoon season. It is raining cats 🐱 and dogs 🐕 outside. In a crowded city where there are people everywhere, traffic coming from all sides, and constant honking, this makes wheeling around very stressful and exhausting. And, of course, most places don’t have ramps, elevators and all the other accessible amenities. I’ve only arrived into Mumbai a few hours ago, so I will keep you updated on my progress, but wow, have I already had some drama.
I had to rebook a new hostel to stay in because the other one cancelled my reservation. My friend emailed and called them inquiring about their accessibility and telling them I am in a wheelchair. They said they were not wheelchair accessible, but I kept my reservation anyway because it was marked wheelchair accessible online and had really great reviews. However, I received news just a couple of days ago that the hostel staff canceled my reservation. Can I get a second opinion on what y’all think of this? Am I being dramatic to think this is outright discriminatory? I had to scramble to find something reasonably priced, safe, and close to the center of town. Luckily, I was able to find a “wheelchair accessible” hostel/hotel.
I arrived into Mumbai on a torrential downpour today. For this second hostel, the website says it is a wheelchair accessible, BUT it is not only far from being so but the “mixed” dormitory room is apparently only for males. The boss of the hotel says everything is laid out clearly on the website, but it says no such thing. In fact, it clearly says the whole unit is wheelchair accessible. (See image below). There is also a narrow staircase with around 5-7 steps at the front entrance.
As if this isn’t enough of an obstacle course for my first few hours in Mumbai, it turns out my bank gave me Indonesia Rupiahs instead of Indian Rupees for the local currency exchange and I was dumb enough not to check. Let’s see how I untangle this mess tomorrow. For now...calo, meaning “let’s go” (pronounced challo in Gujarati) on getting it all sorted. 🥺