Albert’s Birthday, Week Two Day One

 

We were supposed to meet at ten a.m. in the morning.  I was running a little bit late. I had to stop at a few banks on my way to meet Albert. It was his birthday today and but he wanted to show me around the city and spend the day with me and then separate sometime after dark so that he could spend some time with his friends. I had my downloaded offline map from Google loaded and I kind of knew where I was going. Getting cash out was proving to be a hassle. You can only take out ten grand at a time and I needed forty. Some ATM’s wouldn’t work. I had to try a couple of banks. Then I got lost around this roundabout. The offline map just didn’t place me in the right place. It has been pretty accurate up ’till now but I realized it wasn’t after examining more closely the topography information contained within.  

 

We met up and I was only ten minutes late well maybe fifteen. I explained my reasons for being late and wished him a happy birthday. We discussed going to the slums made famous by Slumdog Billinaire and various other things that kept evolving as the day progressed. I had to pay the balance of my trip and pick up my tickets for my upcoming itinerary and that was something that was of prime importance to me. He was happy to take me to all those places and was mindful of my needs. After grabbing some tea on this bus that served as a tea house we were off on the train to the slums.  

Travelling on the train at this time was relatively simple. Not too many people and we got seats at Churchgate Station. It was a fairly long ride and we rode by numerous buildings my eyes transfixed on the road Albert asleep still kind of tired from the previous day’s exploits. This was kind of hard on him too. He hasn’t lived in Mumbai for long maybe for four years.  

We were welcomed by a shrine close to the entrance to the slum from the station. We were going to walk around and explore a few of the interesting parts contained within these slums. First we went through some narrow passages that had wires suspended above running everything from electricity to communications I was told to be careful.  

 

This place is a metropolis onto itself. People everywhere and some of them saying 

“Hi! How are you?” 

Asking in their good English and Albert said that they don’t often see white people and that they respect me being there and responding back in kind.  

Kids were especially friendly and some didn’t mind posing for a picture. Some of them only had the narrow passages in front of their room to play in. All of them were too young to be in school. Playing in their little space was all they had so that one of the adults there could watch over them. We made it to the pottery section I’m told plays a significant part in the movie. I’ve never seen Slumdog Millionaire even though it was nominated for an Oscar.  

Not everyone appreciated having pictures taken. I respected that and still got what shots I needed. I’m becoming a bit more selective with how I frame my shots and the volume of pictures I take also fluctuates with my activity. Sometimes the ransoms end up being the ones I like.  

Then there’s the issue of getting them onto my phone so that I could post them a process all onto its own. It is an interesting place this slum. I should really look up its name but I’ll just keep going telling you about my day.  

There is a strange beauty to this place. It’s relatively new but it is the largest city in India generating much of the country’s GDP and due to this fact more people keep coming in trying to make their way in the city. Some of them, many of them end up here in this slum.  

 We had lunch in the slum at some Restaurant and Bar. A Fosters never tasted so good and the food was delicious too. We left there and made our way out of the slum and ended up passing a dodgy market and then cabbing it back closer to where I’m staying and where we needed to do some business. I went to check out the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum.  

Albert waited outside while I explored the interior of the place. There was a lot to see. I’ve been to many museums in my day and am efficient in my approach to them. It was an eclectic collection of exotic statues and imagery housed in a distinctly opulent British designed building.  

I had to pay extra to be able to take pictures but it would have cost a lot more if I used my camera.  

It was a cool collection of interesting artefacts including weaponry. These pictures however don’t translate visually very well. We did a lot of walking today and we stopped at various times to hydrate and talk about stuff in our lives. Needless to say I was finding Albert’s travels with me as well as the meal etc. I found him to be trustworthy and honest. We were honest with each other about life and what’s occurring. I told him about life outside of India and he said that I remind him of his older brothers. He kept getting many calls throughout the day.  

We passed by the courts a couple of times there was a lot of media interest as the trial of some huge star was going on. He is accused of running someone over and killing them. This story even made the international news months back. I remember reading about it. When we got to the travel agency I was releaved to get rid of the wad of cash I was carrying. Somehow I’m getting a discount by using it. There was a wait so that my flight out of Goa could be sorted. The whole affair is becoming pricy but the convenience of how this trip is shaping up makes up for it.  

 I had to edit the shot Albert took of me in front of the Gate of India. He couldn’t take a straight picture. Some guy offered to take it for him but Albert had to learn. The Gate of India is to commemorate something but it is also close to the Taj Mahal Hotel that was attacked during the terrorist strike by those gunmen a few years back.  

It was getting late and we went to a park to have a session as it was soon time to part our ways. Maybe it was because he was blunted maybe it was his plan all along but Albert asked me to buy him a present. He wanted a new phone. I already gave him some money as I was going to top him for all his help. I dropped a lot of money here already for the trip. To get a phone for him would be prohibitive. I promised him that I would buy him a new phone for his next birthday. He has really helped me out a lot in the past two days. This instinct came to me as I really enjoyed his company and all the time and effort he put into showing me around allowing me to see the real Mumbai. I have his number and will connect with him. I’ll buy him a decent phone as I know how much of a difference that can make. India actually has a decent network all things considering. Their wifi connections anre really good. It is a bit finicky with the logins but then it does work fine. I’m able to post all these pics without too much hassle.  

Albert and I parted ways I gave him a hug and the rest of the cash in my pocket. I know it’s not what he was hoping to get but he understood my situation at the present time and if he really is a student I understand his plight too having been there myself. He gave me a lot of tips and explained how “smart” people are in Delhi. It’s the place I have to watch out the most from all I’ve researched. I wish Albert many blessings as I know he will be praying for me as he told me so. I’m glad that after Goa I’ll have a private driver I never expected to have a road trip. It’s off to Goa tomorrow I’ll have my “train” experience getting there. From what I’ve seen it will be sufficient. 

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