A couple of years ago someone scheduled Saga Ruby to arrive at Mumbai today at low tide. With insufficient depth of water predicted to complete the journey to our berth I was left with no choice but to anchor Saga Ruby in Mumbai Roads and wait for the tide to come in. We arrived at 0700 and after my passengers and crew were unwillingly called before a bureaucratic panel of immigration officials they were finally ‘released’ to take the tender-boat ride to shore.
Mid morning, and with sufficient under-keel clearance I docked Saga Ruby at Mumbai’s cruise terminal. And very soon the remainder of my passengers went to join the 14 million locals that make this the second most populated place on earth.
There were the usual array of organised shore excursions, the city, the Gateway of India Arch, towers and statues, the Hanging Gardens, mosques, the UNESCO world heritage grand railway station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, and my favourite, the Dhobi Ghats – Mumbai’s open air laundries. Some ventured by boat to another UNESCO site, the Elephant Caves, a series of man made caverns hewn out of the rock during the fifth to the eighth centuries.
Aboard ship we are fundraising for a couple of deserving charities in Mumbai - the Victoria School for the Blind, and the Sion Children’s Home. Today was an opportunity for my passengers to visit these charities and witness the wonderful work that they do. For some it will be the beginning of a long relationship, for others it began years ago.
By lunchtime I decided to visit Mumbai too. The only way to visit this city is to become a part of it, and with a few friends we set off on foot to find a local restaurant. Hassled and jostled, we met a thousand taxi drivers, beggars, wannabe guides, and street vendors. Eventually we found what we were looking for and joined a couple of hundred others in what is locally known as an ‘eating house’. A dozen or so different dishes were ordered between our group and we tucked-in to a variety of spicy seafood, meat, and chicken, with naan, rice, and condiments. Probably the best curry in the world!
Shopping followed, with a walk to Crawford Market. There, millions buy and sell everything for every day living. There’s a cacophony from the traffic, vibrant colours of textiles and shop signs, and smiles from the friendly locals. I loved it. With an Indian dressed theme night arranged I needed some authentic clothing, and there was plenty of choice there. Not wishing to be outdone by my passengers I splashed out a few hundred rupees on a Kurta Suit and some colourful shoes.
As with our arrival, it was necessary to wait for the next high tide for our departure which meant that our time in the fantastic city was extended by a few hours. We eventually sailed at 9pm, some three hours later than planned. Time though for another local show, dinner, a classical concert, and a showtime of Jazz before we were back up to full speed at sea, and leaving incredible India in our wake.