October 4th - Mumbai!

I forgot to mention in yesterday's postings that as we were boarding the plane in London we met up with friends from previous rallies: Roger and Sarah Lucas, Terence English, Pedro Roca and Angela Flaque from Barcelona.

After a very smooth flight of 8 hours we landed at Mumbai International airport at 11am. India is 4.5 hours in front of the UK during BST. Apparently the Indian time zone was set at GMT plus 5.5 hours at the time of Indian independence to differentiate India from Pakistan.

We arrived in glorious sunshine and a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. A wait of forty minutes for our bags was the only delay of the journey. As we emerged into the sunshine the sign below welcomed us to Mumbai.

Our driver was waiting for us and we headed off for the hour's drive south to our hotel, the Taj Mahal which is next to The Gateway to India. What a drive it turned out to be. The Mumbai traffic is horrendous.

Cars jammed all the way from the airport to downtown Mumbai. Horns blasting at you all the time as cars and small three wheeler taxis pushed their way forward trying to swap lanes whenever they could. It reminded me very much of Chinese roads but without the thousands of bicycles. The drive took nearly twice as long as the driver said it would.

As we drove up to the hotel we saw for the first time The Gateway to India monument built in 1916 to celebrate the visit to India of George V and Queen Mary. It was from here in 1947 that the British finally left India after independence.

The Gateway taken from our 6th floor room in the hotel.

At the hotel reception we were given garlands of flowers and the hotel receptionist painted red dots on us. No doubt about it, we have arrived in India!

The afternoon was spent meeting old friends who were arriving from all over the world. Kenny and DeeAnne Croucher from El Paso, Texas, John and Elaine Chambers from London, Greg Stanley from Sussex and various members of the HERO team, including Joanne Brown.

The Taj Mahal Hotel, a symbol of the British Raj, built in the late 19th century.

Tomorrow we should collect our car, though with the customs computer down this afternoon, that may be delayed.

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