Nightmare in Bombay

Bombay was my first port of entry in India and as most people know you have to check your baggage through customs first thing. I trusted my traveling companions from India to lead me in matters such, having no experience or knowledge at all in international travel, but when we got to Bombay at 1:30am they were so exhausted from the flight it must have slipped their minds (or since it was their first ever travel abroad even they were not aware of such matters.) I just assumed my luggage, a large suitcase and an Ovation guitar I had had since 1979, would be waiting for me to pick up in Hyderabad, but wait that is Nightmare in Hyderabad.

Our plane landed at 1:30am in Bombay, but my connecting flight to Hyderabad was not until 8:30am, which meant spending the night in Bombay. I needed to use the restroom at the airport and that was the first time I ever saw or even heard of an eastern toilet! It is flat with the floor and one squats over it, some more gracefully than others. Balance is important here; a little bit of yoga practice will be helpful indeed. When I walked out into the night air of Bombay for the first time, having been in air conditioning since I left Pittsburgh, the heat and humidity were so heavy it actually took my breath away.

As one freezes in extreme cold weather, one can become immobilized due to the sizzling conditions. I had to stand still for a few moments while my lungs and senses adjusted to the atmosphere. It was probably 95 degrees or so, with at least as much humidity. Some friends from their church met us there with an auto (a three-wheeled taxi) and took us to their small apartment a few miles away. We went inside and settled in for a while and then the pastor suggested we go out for a coke (at 2:30am.) The moment we started walking down the barely-lit narrow filth-ridden street I was startled to see rats the size of Chihuahua's scampering back and forth, flea-infested mongrels going through heaps of fly and insect-infested trash strewn along the road. The stench emanating could have caused irrecoverable damage to my olfactory senses. This was my first impression of India. It was chaotic, my senses were overloaded and I wasnt sure I could adjust. I remember thinking to myself, what have I done, and I seriously did consider an immediate return to the States in the morning instead of going on to Hyderabad, but the spirit is stronger than the flesh and I went on. I knew that Pastor Jaya Kumar and Dr. Rao would be meeting me at the airport and I was delighted to find them waiting with flowers as they greeted me with open arms. They were the most welcoming, warmest, and friendly people I have ever met. Like long lost friends we immediately embraced without hesitation.