One of the most unexpected trips I’ve ever had was my business trip to India last year. I went with my team mate (and also, school batch mate) Francis. We were tasked to monitor a project and create positive rapport with our 3rd party supplier, and the deployment was more than 2 weeks.
India had always, to tell you honestly, given me the impression of being too over-the-top a destination that I never really wanted to visit it. Ever since I was a young kid who loved watching National Geographic, scenes of rats being adored, king cobras poisoning hapless farmers, elephants running amok and corpses being allowed to rot at the banks of Ganges – all these, well, turned me off. Before my trip, I researched on some travel tips to avoid getting food poisoning, and the list was quite long: “don’t eat cut fruit”, “don’t drink water that is not served in a sealed bottle”, “do not try street food”, etc.
Fortunately, throughout our stay in India, we never woke up to bad tummies.
For our first time in India, our main destination was Mumbai where the office of our consultants were located. Luckily, we had a swell time staying for two weeks at The Leela, one of Mumbai’s oldest 5-star hotels. It was 5-minutes away from the international airport and is an expansive compound with a big pool and well-appointed lobby. Our room was not big but neither was it cramped. Sadly, we never enjoyed the breakfast fare here except during our first day. Why? Because they served practically the same items EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Every day, we took either Uber or Meru cars as it was very difficult using local cabs as foreigners. We also had the option of using the rickshaw but that would mean more than 1 hour of traveling amidst Indian heat and Mumbai traffic. To tell you honestly though, the only difference with Manila and Mumbai traffic is that in Mumbai, you’d see an occasional cow on the road. Manila traffic is almost like Mumbai’s! It wasn’t too much of a culture shock.
Every lunch, Francis and I would enjoy authentic Indian food as our counterparts’ office had free buffet lunch daily. Francis loved the Indian practice of putting yoghurt on rice. I, on the other hand, loved the lentils, the eggs and the different kinds of rice served. Since a lot in the office were vegetarians, it was always a treat for me and Francis when there would be chicken or veal served.
In this series of blog entries, I will share with you some of my memorable times spent in the land of colorful saris, exoticism and dizzying culture – India.
DIWALI and SOUTH MUMBAI