Feb 14th, 2006 by teragram

I’m back! I’ve been busy with an essay for my Open University course, and a trip to Mumbai (see below), so I haven’t had a chance to post for a while. But lucky for you I’ve found a spare five minutes. Before I go into my adventures in Mumbai, check out this quote I came across in “Big Bang” by Simon Singh. It was Georges Lemaître (a Catholic priest, and one of the first scientists to suggest what is now known as the big bang) who said:

“Hundreds of professional and amateur scientists actually believe that the Bible pretends to teach science. This is a good deal like assuming that there must be authentic religious dogma in the binomial theorem”

I love it.

Aaaanyway. I went to Mumbai with our current Irish companion here in our bubble of privilege, A. C didn’t come along, because he was nerding it up with Linux geeks in Delhi, and didn’t get back in time. In some ways, the trip was more adventuresome than we had planned. For instance, we got to experience first-hand a minor airport taxi scam. “Madam, you gave me a 100 instead of a 500”. I can’t tell you how much I’m still kicking myself for giving in on that. At least when he went on to rip the 500 rupee note and ask us to replace it because it was ripped, I held my ground. I still can’t figure out where he was going with that. I should have offered him his 100 back.

So then he said we had to get into another taxi, because our current taxi was out of petrol. What was it doing picking up people at the airport with so little petrol I ask you? Lying in wait, that’s what. I must say, I was pretty nervous at this point, but thankfully the thief didn’t get into the new taxi with us. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, except for the taxi’s decor. There was this … pole, in between the two front seats. It looked like a pole-dancing pole, but without any room to manoeuvre. The ceiling was also mirrored. I wish I’d taken pictures (I did get a photo of another mirror-ceilinged taxi). The new taxi driver asked us how much we had paid the thief (I guess he knew who he was dealing with) and I said “five fifty”. He calmly replied “5 thousand?” and I must admit I laughed. We had been ripped off for 400 rupees, but surely no-one would be thick enough to pay 100 euro for a taxi ride in India. Surely.

We made it safely to our hotel. It’s a nice place, but we had a strong suspicion that it used to be part of the nearby hospital. In the velour-lined hotel bar, on the last night, we met some friendly English masons. That’s right, freemasons. “We’re here on masonic business”, they said. A finished her drink mysteriously quickly, and we left. We waited till we got to the lift to break our hearts laughing. Afterwards we kind of wished we’d stayed and asked them some questions. What would you have asked?

There was a meal at a revolving restaurant. The view was beautiful, but the food wasn’t great. We had some sushi (vegetarian, of course), and the wasabi was toxic. I actually had to spit out a whole piece of sushi, because I felt like I had a mouthful of turpentine filling my nose with fumes. That was a shame, because the sushi itself was quite nice. The other dishes we ordered were in goopy sauces, and were pretty disappointing.

We played “easy-listening” at the bar with the world’s worst mix of decor. The walls are all faux 18th century, except for the cornice which is an underwater scene, complete with fish. Easy-listening is the game where you try to be the first to figure out what song the bar-singer is playing. A totally kicked my ass at that game. Even when I figured out what it was first, I could never think of the name. We left to “Knock knock knocking on heaven’s door”.



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