Two Idiots Abroad

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The journey of two-West Standers following the England cricket team in India

Four o’clock in the morning, four o’clock in the bloody morning! That’s the sort of sacrifice that us bloggers make for you, our adoring public.  Well, sort of.  For me it’s a case of flicking a switch that publishes this article whilst I’m still (hopefully) fast asleep, for Johnny Bogroll it’s a case of falling out of bed at a reasonable hour, finding a curry cafe place for breakfast and turning up at a cricket match.

Those of you that remember Johnny’s trip to the World Cup in 2010 will know that he’s not the safest of travellers, but a week, in the biggest city in India, nothing could go wrong, could it?

Part 1: Welcome to Mumbai

As a pretty well travelled person, I’ve always believed I could pretty much handle any travel experience. I’ve been arrested in Iran, assaulted in the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan, thrown out of a bus into a deserted bus station in downtown Johannesburg at 4 in the morning and been to North Korea more times than I’ve been to Leigh. All situations I took in my stride, so India would be a walk in the park wouldn’t it? Wrong. Nothing in all my years of travelling could have ever prepared me for the intensity and craziness of Mumbai.

Earlier this year a mate of mine mentioned going to watch the cricket in India for the upcoming England tour.  I’d always fancied watching the cricket abroad and never been to India before so jumped at the chance.

So we arrived in Mumbai after a 15 hour layover in Abu Dhabi (the most boring place on earth.  And basically just a business park in the middle of the desert). The taxi leaves Mumbai airport for our apartment and that’s when it begins. A non-stop hit on the senses, a multitude of madness coming at you from all angles.

Rabid dogs roaming every street, rats ambling around without a care in the world completely devoid of any fear, monkeys intimidating and robbing people, slums as far as the eye can see, right next to flashy high rise apartment blocks. The traffic is a tidal wave of cars, trucks, rickshaws, motorbikes and cycles that just doesn’t stop; the horns beep continuously like an eternal drone.

Kids are wandering the streets tugging at your pockets asking for food, people are lying motionless on the pavement covered in flies…they’re either dead or not far from it.  The trains are just as you imagine them – sardines have got it easy…and then there’s the people hanging out of the doors and clinging on to the roof. The smells everywhere are overpowering, from shit, sweat and piss through to spices, incense and flavoured tobacco, back to (and mainly just) shit, sweat and piss.

I’d heard all this about Mumbai before but words just can’t do it justice – it’s only when you see it when you realise the utter chaos of it all. It is crammed full of people like you wouldn’t think possible. The suburb we are staying in is not as densely populated as most areas of Mumbai but in just 14 square miles there are 1.5 million people. To put that in perspective…that’s roughly the size of Wigan, with a population of 80,000. Just imagine there being 20 times more people living in Wigan than there are already.

Coming tomorrow in part 2: Gatecrashing England’s hotel.

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