I’ve been in Mumbai for 4 weeks. On Tuesday we moved into our apartment and out of the hotel. Huzzahhhh! The place is empty and we’ve borrowed a bed; our furniture doesn’t arrive till January but I don’t care. The dog hair dust bunnies are already forming so it feels like home.
I don’t know if it was the arctic AC in the hotel, the move or being stuck in the suburbs but I’ve been frozen. Stuck. Stumped. Bamboozled.
I’ve struggled. I haven’t been able to write. I haven’t been able to read. I haven’t even felt like cooking! It’s been hard to envision my life here in Mumbai. Thank goodness for the dogs and the lovely H or I might have taken to my bed like the grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I don’t remember the initial weeks in Brazil or Mexico being like this. However, I do feel a thaw coming on.
The hotel was really nice (but it was the only place that would take the dogs). It was lovely and green. There was plenty of space for the pups to run around. There was a lake and lots of wildlife. It was better to be there as our first Mumbai experience than being in the middle of the city as soon as we arrived but it did get to a point where I needed my independence and a break from the all you can eat buffet.
But, I did notice something about Mumbai while we were there – it has an exotic Urban Ecosystem which initially seems at odds with it being one of the most populous cities in the world.
Next to the hotel is a beautiful forest area that is a government dairy colony – the Aarey Dairy Colony. Most toilets are outside and you would be wise not to have any liquid after 7pm because a midnight trip to the toilet might see you get eaten by a leopard.
Yes ladies and gentlemen a leopard. It puts being freaked out about a spider in the loo into perspective no?
These leopards live in Sanjay Gandhi National Park and they occasionally come down to the edges of the park to hunt. As the water buffalo are safely tucked up in their barns at night it’s those with the need to go for a nighttime pee and the street dogs that end up on the menu.
Street dogs. So far all the street dogs I’ve seen have been plump, healthy looking specimens that seem to have napping down to a fine art. During the day it’s not unusual to see five or six asleep in the shade under a parked car. They walk along the street with the rest of the pedestrians and no one pays them any attention. Sometimes you see them in amongst a crowd of people waiting to cross the road. A lot of the male dogs have been castrated. Someone I spoke to told me that the dogs are captured, taken to the vet, neutered and then released back where they came from. They’re not house dogs to be taken in by people and anyway they serve a purpose; they eat the rubbish.
They seem to be very street smart because I haven’t seen any run over dogs, but then I probably wouldn’t because of the crows and the kites.
Crows and Black Kites. The Black Kites are called eagles here….they could be,they’re bloody massive. There are loads of crows and kites in Mumbai. At first I thought it was because we were in the suburbs because there were so many, but no. They’re everywhere. In fact there’s a kite nest in the tree next to the apartment…and one in every other tree in the area. (I’ve had the binoculars out, I know)
I Googled them. They eat dead stuff along with the crows and equally partial to a bit of leftover curry in the rubbish.
Rubbish…..is a picture starting to form yet?
Cows. Now, cows are not what you would usually think of as a waste disposal unit but they do, like every other animal in Mumbai, eat rubbish. I can’t tell if the cows have owners and are just having a walkabout or if they’re street cows. I did ask and was told they were venerated so no one moved them on. Didn’t really answer my question but hey ho.
But, I’ve seen cows standing in a pile of rubbish, munching away at who knows what…and they looked fat and healthy like the street dogs. Although, I don’t think I’d accept a pint of milk…
So, the Leopard eats the street dogs (and the poor dairy farmer), the street dog eats the scraps, the crows and kites eat the dead things, the cows get a pat on the rump and everyone eats rubbish!
Now where does all the dog poo go….?
Addendum – Since I wrote this post I’ve been to the UK for a week for Christmas and been back a week. We are having technical issues with t’internet dust in the apartment so I haven’t been able to get online. I’m sitting in a packed cafe that has free wi-fi. Laptops and tablets abound so the wi-fi is slower than a tortoise wading through treacle. Maybe I should start a mailing list…..