Before I tell you about the “guardens” I want to tell you how many funny things Rahul and I run across on any given day. One of the things that I find endlessly amusing are the many instances of contradiction. After a long walk we found a nice place to have a lime soda, my current drink of choice. We asked them when they opened and one man told us 11am, just a 10 minute wait, but a minute later someone told us it wouldn’t be open until noon. Another example, we encountered a mall where they were checking bags, a sad reality in Mumbai since the terrorist attack in 2007. We asked them which direction to enter and one person pointed one way and the other person pointed the other way. Trying to make sense of these contradictions is an exercise in futility. When we returned to our room we were really pooped. Rahul pulled out the keys and put them in the door at which point a man, who we hadn’t noticed until that moment, walked over and told us we were in the room next door. Anywhere else it would have seemed like a breach of privacy but here, it’s just another thing that makes you say “what to do?”
There are many inequities in Mumbai (and I suspect in India in general) and I experienced that firsthand today. While searching for a nice place to take our lime soda break we wandered through a hotel and tried to sweet talk ourselves into the pool area for a drink. When the pool person learned that we were not staying at the hotel he seemed uncomfortable. Rahul and I both noticed that he seemed uncertain as to whether he should refuse a gori (white woman). Today we saw many nice gardens but, unfortunately, they all had locks on them and usually had a guard at the gate. Rahul coined them “guarden” instead of garden for that reason. I became increasingly jealous of the butterflies who could float effortlessly in and out of the gated gardens of Mumbai without permission.