Yesterday Dina & I caught the 9W117 flight from Heathrow to Mumbai for our first vacation of the year and it was fair to say that we were both quite excited at the departure gate waiting to board. It was to be our first return to Bombay since we left in late 2010.
Dina had taken the Thursday off and flew over to London from Belfast, whereas I worked the day and travelled out on the underground after a day in the office… and yet at the airport, it was Dina who was the one listing the items she’d forgotten to bring!!
The flight itself went smoothly… aside from watching two movies, I spent quite a bit of time being enlisted by an elderly gentleman to helping him to select the TV programmes he wanted to watch. It was a feat of influencing the like I haven’t seen in years… I’m not totally convinced he actually asked me to select the programmes for him, but somehow, there I was “doing the needful”.
We did however chat a bit… it turned out he had left Bombay for London in around the 1950’s on a £30 ticket (which was probably quite a bit of money at the time!) and had set up a shop selling women’s clothing in NW London… and once up & running he actually returned to Bombay every month or so to deal with his supply factories. So clearly he’d done well for himself in his business.
When not entertaining, or being the ‘Remote-Control-Wala’, I did manage to watch a couple of movies myself. Firstly it was ‘Moneyball’, starring Brad Pitt, which is the story of how the Oakland Athletics Baseball Team applied percentages to playing effectiveness and went from being a bit rubbish to being really quite good. It was an engaging film, however, if you’re looking for action it’s probably not the one for you.
Second up was ‘Puss in Boots’, a spin off from the ‘Shrek’ series of movies, featuring Antonio Banderas as the main character… err, Puss. This movie was the telling of the story of how Puss became the outlaw he was in the ‘Shrek’ story. As you’d expect, it was a real movie for all ages and had many a ‘laugh-out-loud’ moment!
So entertained, it was time for some kip and lights out for around 4 hours meant I could string relatively coherent answers together at immigration before heading out in the city of Mumbai. Like the good boy scout that I never was, I’d organised some transport for the holiday, with Kalim my old driver, being hired for our stay! As reliable as ever, he was stood in exactly the same spot he always stood when I came through the door at CS Airport in Mumbai.
It was good to see Kalim again, he was excellent to me when I lived here and it was lovely to find out that he’s now got three kids & his son was born in mid July last year. It was also kind of funny to notice that whilst I’d shaved off my beard, he had started to grow his! This was actually a sign of good times for Kalim, as he never grew his beard because he wasn’t allowed to for work… however, since he has finished paying off the loan on his car, he was able to go self employed and now he can have his beard! Who knows, perhaps there’s another car loan in him & a chauffer empire is looming!
As for Bombay itself, apart from the construction having moved on a bit down the road it’s not changed massively… the pavements haven’t been finished, the people don’t use them anyways, the traffic still somehow manages to meander it’s way along and the shop keepers are still out to sell you stuff you never even knew you didn’t need… or want. But it is great to be back. The climate at the moment is excellent, with a low-humidity 33 degrees (or so) during the day and a pleasant 15-20 in the evenings.