Indian weddings, EDM ravers, car crashes, and two epic weeks. Yeah, India was a good time for the most part. Flying out of SFO to Mumbai was sixteen hours of inflight drunkenness. What the hell else are you suppose to do?! Besides, I’m terrified of flying and ran out of Xanax mid-way through the flight. From there on out, I drank red wine like I was on a vineyard in Napa.
Upon arrival to Mumbai, the first thing my girlfriend and I noticed was the sheer amount of people. With a population of over 20 million, the city is India’s most populous. With that being said, you can only imagine the sheer amount of filth, waste, and poverty. Oh, and con-artists preying upon the weak. Yeah… This isn’t the Beatles India you dreamed about. Spiritual tranquility has been sold and resold countless times over. Being a 6’4” white guy from California was like having a dollar sign attached to my chest. You literally had to lock your car doors while in traffic. Otherwise, beggars would just come up and open them. Harassment is unavoidable in Mumbai.
Yet, in this haze of cultural contradictions, there were plenty of awesome things to see and do. Within Mumbai, there are countless world heritage sites and architectural wonders that are jaw-droppingly beautiful. From the Neo-Classical Gothic Rajabi Tower to the Indo-Saracenic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, there is a constant feeling of cultural identity and wonder that is aesthetically Indian. However, architecture wasn’t what we came to India for.
After flying half way around the world, we attended a good friends wedding. This wasn’t the first Indian wedding I was in, but it sure was the longest and most traditional — Dance, eat, repeat. I think by the end of it all I gained some serious pounds. As for the food… fucking amazing! Being a foodie at heart, I was in curry heaven.
After a week of rituals, marital bliss, and some serious partying, we drove twelve hours south to the beach resorts of Goa. This is were things got interesting to say the least. Traversing down the side of a mountain in a van with five other people, while half asleep and tripping on ambien, is probably one of the scariest moments ever; our driver was passing four cars at a time through blind corners. I thought my life would come to a screeching halt at any minute.
Ten minutes outside of Goa, life decided to hit me in the face… well, at least the plastic modeling of the seat in front of me. Our driver lost control of the van after a wheel blew and we ended up hitting a concrete wall going about 40mph. Besides some whiplash and fat lips, everyone walked away unscathed. A little chai and some biscuits helped settle the nerves before we continued onward to our resort.
The beach community of Goa was like going to a EDM rave in Russia, that is if everyone was over the age of fifty. Apparently, if you live in Europe, this is the place you come to if you wanna cut away from life. Its the burning man of South India. Only exception is that most, if not everyone should probably keep their clothes on. Nobody want’s to see giant beer belly’s and skin so tan it looks like leather.
Luckily, Goa’s picturesque beaches, Portuguese influenced architecture, and hippie culture, made up for the unruly Europeans that zipped around on mopeds.
After four days of resort life, beach breakfasts, and amazing massages, it was time to fly back to Mumbai. As my time in India came closer to ending, I couldn’t help but think about life back in San Francisco. That cliche Scott McKenzie song “If You’re Going to San Francisco” reverberated through my head. I needed to taste the cool Pacific breeze and eat some animal style fries from In-N-Out Burger. However, before we could do that, we had to do a quick stop over in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Abu Dhabi is like being thrust into the future at warp speed. Everything is modern, clean, and huge! Having an eleven hour layover didn’t allow my girlfriend and I to do much, but we were able to leave the airport and check out the Grand Mosque. Created in 2007, this architectural marvel looks as if its out of Star Wars. Seriously, Its size alone was amazing! After snapping a few pictures, we jumped back in our Mercedes Benz taxi and headed to the airport. San Francisco… here we come.