Once we arrived in Mumbai immigration was easy...except for Berna and her father, who are actually still Philippines citizens. They had to apply for visas once they arrived and had a lot of explaining to do. But in the end they we're let in, so it's all good.
We were met at the airport by the Indian organizers' hospitality team, who had arranged rides to the airport. Bags were packed, and the porters hit us up for money...I gave them way too much for a tip...and then we were off to our hotel.
That first ride was something else.
Apparently there aren't many rules of the road here. Communication with other drivers and pedestrians is by sounding your horn at them. Repeatedly. For the whole trip. It was interesting. We made our way through the shanty town next to the airport. Flying in we noticed that there was this whole community of houses and businesses that was situated right off the end of the runway. Couldn't imagine wanting to live at the end of a runway, except that they probably don't get hassled too much for rent. Getting a bit more into the city and it became a bit more developed and structurally significant. A little more of a sense of permanence to the buildings. Except for the drivers. They don't seem like they are making any attempt at permanence. Helmets on scooter drivers were clearly optional and very scarce. But to be sure, if there was a helmet being worn it was on the male driver and not the female passenger. Interesting place. I actually saw one guy on his scooter carrying a perfectly nice helmet in one hand, driving with the other, and I'm not sure what he was doing to make his horn work.
The Hotel Ginger is actually really nice. It's on a busy street, and apparently I missed the cows walking along the street at some point. We were met by Guarave, who has been my contact to organize the accommodations, and the team was dotted...red dots were placed on our foreheads. Everyone was made to feel quite welcome. Once we were settled in our rooms we made our way to the restaurant for what would be the first of many meals or spicy Indian curry goodness! It was an excellent meal...I had some sort of creamy buttery chicken deliciousness that was quite spicy, although I'm sure to Indians it was probably laughably mild. But it was really yummy anyway.
We turned in a bit early after a couple emails and a bit of Skype.
So far it has been an interesting experience...more to come! Next up...touring the city of Mumbai!