Cochin has an interesting history. First discovered by Vasco de Gama (fortunate for the natives because they didn’t know where they were) in 1552 making it a Portugese colony. Next came the priests to convert the heathens. Then the Dutch took over and converted the Catholic churches to Luthern churches. Then the Anglican British arrived. Well to cut to the quick, Cochin’s 3 million plus population is 60% Christian, overwhelming Catholic.
Jews arrived in Kerala in 72AD fleeing the Romans. Cochin has a Synagogue but only 5 remaining Jews. The majority have immigrated on to the West, Europe and Australia. About 5,000 Jews remain in all of India.
Our dinner was Celeste”s birthday dinner. Ya, I bought the group’s CD.
View from our balcony.
Cute Cochin street.
Celeste is giving a few ironing tips to the professional laundry man.
Chinese fishing nets at work.
Think “Slum Dog Millionaire” This is the slum which the movie claims as home. However, very little footage was shot here due to the tight spaces. Most filming was done in other slums or on Bollywood sets. Mumbai is the Hollywood of the Indian film industry.
The Dharavi slum is the largest of Mumbai’s numerous slums. It is the size of one half of Central Park in NYC and has a population of roughly 1.5 million people (double the population of San Francisco). One million are permanent residents and 500,000 are laboring transients. The slum is a city unto itself. Most live and work within the slum. The landlord is the government, charging rent and taxes. Mumbai real estate is the most expensive in India, hence rents are high. Residents of the slum pay about $100-150 USD a month. The residents pay once a year for water, and monthly for electricity. The one shortcoming is sewage. There is one flush toilet for every 2,000 people.
The main income source is processing recycled products. Paint, plastics, soap, etc. are all recycled in the slum in their “business areas. This slum exports over $700,000,000 a year of goods. The majority of areas are residential which we could not photograph. The alleyways between buildings were dark and about 30” wide. Every 10-15 ft. was a front door. The apartments are about 100-200 square feet. Children played in these narrow alleyways. Did a lot of hi’s, and fist pumps. Hundreds of hello smiles.
An amazing experience of how the world lives. Unlike the Slumdog movie, we have not seen a blinded or deformed child begging. There are no more beggars here than Bangkok and those are few and far between.
Tomorrow we fly to Cochin in Kerala state to begin our road trips through tea plantation country.
On rooftop where cleaned plastic products are dried and sacked.
Recycled products bagged.
Sorting plastics by color.
Walking streets in slum.
Photo op taken by our guide.
Congested street scene.
Most locals still call the city Bombay which is its original pre British name. The new name “Mumbai” is a religious Hindu name. A congested city of over 24 million people. We are staying in the southern district called Nariman, also the business district. This is where the Pakistani terrorists attacked a few years ago, killing hundreds of people in hotels and restaurants including the Oberoi Hotel next to us. Tonight we will have dinner at the Leopold Cafe where a dozen or so diners were killed. Oh well, life goes on.
The city has abysmal traffic. Half of our all day city tour was spent in traffic. A massive multi-lined subway system is under construction and will be completed in 2019. Prime Minister Modi was here last week inspecting construction. Following are random photos of our day, hopefully with attached descriptions. I have a tough time formatting this site.
Morning view from our room.
Promenade across from our hotel overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Children waiting to enter the Prince of Wales Museum.
The famous Taj Mahal Hotel
This 27 story building is the family home of the 7th richest man on earth. This is the second most expensive residence on earth after Buckingham Palace. The owner never slept a night here, only his mother and children and families. Staff of over 600 people also live here along with a garage housing over 200 vintage automobiles. Before the owner (Jio Corp.) moved in, an astrologer told him that if he slept one night here he would lose his fortune. So, he kept his old residence to sleep in and only visits here.
Mahatma Ghandi’s house. Now a museum of his life. Dr. Martin Luther King visited here on his Ghandi quest.
After an enjoyable two week trip to Rajasthan state in India two years ago, we decided to take advantage of our 10 year tourist visa and return for a second trip. The first trip we flew into New Delhi, this trip we will enter India via Mumbai. Our destinations will include Banglore, Cochin, Goa and most of Kerala State. Celeste & I will always have a dedicated car and driver to move us around on a daily basis. Each day a local English speaking guide is provided. We have a lot of UNESCO Heritage sites to visit. Onward and upward.
Awaiting our flight from Bangkok to Mumbai.