Unfortunately, week two in Mumbai started with a very unpleasant case of gastroenteritis which lasted from Sunday until Wednesday. I’ll spare the details, but this made both social activities and work a write-off for this period. It wasn’t just me, either! There was a whole handful of others who were sick at the same time. This was quite gutting (pardon the pun) as we are only in India for a very limited amount of time. Fortunately, I was able to head back to work mid-week and continue collecting information for the output report that I am writing on the Measles outbreak in Mumbai. This week’s work is centred around researching the responses that the BMC and different organisations have had to previous outbreaks and what can be learnt from what did and didn’t work. That evening, the group went to the Phoenix Palladium, which is a massive fancy mall in Lower Parel. Even in the three hours that we were there, only a small percentage of the shops were graced by our presence. However, I made sure that those shops included KFC and Starbucks. The following evening the group went out to Pizza Express for dinner, which was so tasty that I might have to go back. On Friday night, the rest of the group went to see a Bollywood movie called Pathaan, which they said was incredible and well worth the watch. During this time, I was with my parents, who were also visiting India for around ten days. We went out to dinner, and it was super nice to catch up after two weeks away from home. On Saturday, we headed to NMIMS University, where we interacted with students from all faculties. They sang and danced for us, which was amazing to see, and they even taught us a few Bollywood dance moves, which was so much fun.
Afterwards, we headed to Juhu Beach to get street food for dinner. I had a grilled cheese and vegetable sandwich, a mango lassi, and kulfi – so, so delicious. After a quick stroll on the beach, which was far more chaotic than expected, we started the long 90-minute journey back to the YWCA. This was one of the most memorable and fun taxi journeys of my life. It started out with eye spy, which is nothing too special, and I was doing embarrassingly badly. The taxi driver then took a wrong turn which added fifteen minutes to the journey, which we weren’t too happy about. However, then we started interacting with the driver, and we were all in hysterics. The driver knew very little English, and we knew very little Hindi, but somehow we connected and just understood each other through fits of laughter. Midway through our journey, we had to stop for gas, which added to the fun. At this point, we were enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t mind the delays. Top marks for this driver!
On Sunday, I had a sleep-in, and it was much needed. I then caught up with my parents again, and we went to a department store for a bit of shopping. This worked quite well in my favour as I didn’t have to pay for my shirt. Big win! Later in the day, eleven of us headed to Lollapalooza, India. It was such a fantastic experience to go to a world-class festival in another country. Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived, the group split, so we spent a while trying to find each other again. Once there was a plan sorted, and it was clear where everyone was going, the rest of the night went super smoothly. I saw Jackson Wang, The Strokes, Cigarettes After Sex, Divine, and Diplo, which were all super memorable and fantastic acts. Diplo was definitely my favourite, though. After getting a delicious deluxe brownie, we headed home by train and arrived at around midnight to finish up another memorable week.
The motto for this trip so far definitely seems to be “you have to have the good with the bad”. I have loved my time so far in this chaotic yet beautiful city, but I am very ready to sit on a clean beach with a salad in one hand and a cocktail (or two) in the other. There is so much to see and do: every day, the same tasks like walking to work or going on the train, which may be monotonous in New Zealand, bring such different experiences here. We still have a lot to see and some very exciting plans for the next month. I can’t wait to see what next week brings!