Friday Night Lights:
Two weeks ago we finished up a particularly intense work week. 8pm on a Friday rolled around and we were closing up shop. The crew invited me to head toward the sea and get a beer at The Strand hotel, which is in a classic art deco low-rise that looks like the love child of Miami's and Cuba's waterfront properties. We crammed into an elevator the size of a phone booth, rode up to the roof, grabbed some beers, and fell victims to a classic architecture cliche by sketching a design solution on a cocktail napkin.
(The dome is the Taj Hotel by the Gateway of India).
Upon returning from Delhi I was moved to a new hotel room here in Mumbai. Score.
Normally waterfront views are deemed "premium" simply because oceans are prettier than pools or parking lots. That's the case here, too, but seeing that much vast, open space as soon as I walk into my room at night is downright therapeutic. You can practically feel the newly acquired breathing room as soon as you exit the street below and come upstairs.
License to Operate:
Carson and I went to see The Descendents last weekend. Not bad, but totally depressing. Of course I was on the lookout for the movie license and to my surprise I learned that there is not only a license for the movie but also for every. single. commercial. And every. single. preview. Excuse the blurry shot but I rushed to snap a pic before the next horrible commercial for skin whitening cream came on.
Speaking of whitening creams, we just got back from a quick stop at the pharmacy. I was desperate for ibuprofen so we dropped in to pick up a pack. Items of note in the Colaba pharmacy include numerous brands of skin whitening cream (which I find weird but Indians probably think the same of our liquid tanners/bronzers), condoms that are styled somehow to look like denim jeans (to provide a "hip and cool experience") and oodles of pharmaceuticals that are sold in sheets of blister packs. No bottles of Tylenol, no boxes of Sudafed. Just blister packs that cost $0.25. Perscription medications run, on average, $2.30 to fill.
Stairway to Heaven:
Well, not quite. But the stairs have been rebuilt with steel, concrete, and fugly match-to-existing tile. You can't win 'em all.
During a weekend outing I was cruising the Colaba Causeway and spotted a monkey on a leash. In the urban scavenger hunt that is now my life, I got quite excited at the prospect of checking off a box on the list of friend requests for Mumbai sights: monkey on the street. I deftly pulled out the iPhone and pretended to be looking something up while I snapped a picture of the monkey. Within nanoseconds a woman was hassling me for cash. How in the world did she know? I made sure she wasn't looking so that I could avoid this interaction!
And then I noticed she had an accomplice, a tourist tracker. One woman pretends to walk along with her monkey while another watches for stupid saps like me who think they've found a way to beat the system.
Monkey Madam walked by my side for three solid blocks and cried out, "You like my monkey? You take pictures of my monkey you give me money!" All the while I was scoping out some posh shop I could escape to but no luck. Would I have shelled out a 5 rupee coin? Sure. But I'm not so dumb that I'll open my wallet on the street and that was my only option.
Eventually we parted ways but not without a lot of "You like my monkey?" talk. Was I heartless for not paying for my picture? Maybe. But give me some points for keeping a straight face while she talked about liking her monkey and taking pictures of it. I so badly wanted to reply, "That's what he said!" but my immature American humor would have fallen on deaf ears.