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Trip to Mumbai – day 1

My first trip in 20 years and more than 25 in the business community, I arrived in Mumbai feeling like a fish out of water.

The first thing that hit me was the level of humidity. That would normally not have phased me but 20 years in Dubai has softened me with air conditioning at the end of my finger. I think it surprised me more because I did not expect it this early in the year. Fortunately for a "phorener" like me, the client had sent an air-conditioned car to pick me up. As we drove from the airport to the office, I recognized very little and yet they stayed the same. The streets were still teeming with millions, horns blaring, five lanes (and I use this term very loosely) where there should have been three dominated surprisingly (or not) by the very nifty drivers of the auto rickshaws (three wheeled taxis). I tell you I could not drive here. It would frighten me. There is barely a few inches of space between cars (and I am not exaggerating).

Once I reached office, I was comfortable because this was "my territory". It was a reasonably productive day until I went to the motel nearby where I was staying. My bag had been dropped off by someone from the office so I thought all I had to do was pick up my key and go for a much-needed shower to take off the layer of dust from my hair and face. Not quite so quickly. They could not find my name. They were looking for a booking for Mita but the name there was Srinivasan. I said that was my surname but they focused on me being Mita. And of course, I was down as a Mr. I think someone probably subconsciously decided that a Mrs could not be here on a business trip. Especially one with an Indian surname. Did I mention that it was a very small motel in the suburb? After a lot of kufuffle, I did manage to get a key to my room where my bag was already there. On a plus side – it was Spartan but clean and I hope cheap. I did notice that there was a price of Rs. 5500 scribbled below my name. If that was the rate paid for this – it is seriously overpriced. Next time I will find my own hotel.

The evening was spent in a taxi from Malad to Altamount Road to meet my 85-year old aunt. She looked well and very happy to see me. She had wanted me to stay with her but it might have been a bit expensive and strenuous because at the end of the day I was here on work.

Taste of James Martin

A language problem at home