This might end up sounding like one of those school trip reports we used to write back in the day after a field trip to some educational centre but bear with me. I was watching some random Bollywood movie and saw Linking Road in one of these scenes and that brought back a flood of memories for me. Linking Road is in Mumbai, India, and from when I visited it, it was quite the place to be at if you wanted to get some shopping done. This was before the era of huge shopping malls and Jimmy Choo coming up in Mumbai and I was very happy walking in and out of the shops, indulging in retail therapy.
This was my first ever trip to India. I’d never been before and I don’t think that I have any known close relatives living there. The India I knew was from the Bollywood movies I watched and I suppose it was the same for my parents and siblings. We never packed bags for a two week holiday to India to go visit relatives so that was one part of the world we had written off as a holiday destination at some point, like Disney World.
So, coming back to Linking Road, it was the most memorable part of my trip because of one single incidence that I had there. I’d spent most of the day walking in and out of shops, marveling at my haggling skills (which are nil, by the way) and managed to get royally conned because the shopkeepers could tell I was a foreigner and even the limited Hindi and Punjabi I can speak was nothing like what they spoke in India. I apparently spoke like a ‘foreigner’.
I was sitting in a cab to go back to the hotel after a long day of retail therapy and hopped into one of those yellow and black cabs that I’d loved seeing in the movies. No air conditioning and no ‘hi-funda’ stereo system in the car but I loved every second of piling my shopping bags next to me and giving the address to the taxi driver like they do in the movies. I think I saw him shake his head but we moved on nevertheless. After a few minutes we came to a standstill and I asked the driver what was going on and he mumbled something that I didn’t quite understand because he had a mouthful of betel nut leaves. Instead of asking him to repeat himself (I was quite intimidated by his large body in the khaki uniform and red stained mouth) I looked out of the window and to my delight I realized that the traffic was being caused by cows that were crossing the road! Cows are considered very sacred in India so when they cross the roads, they’re given the right of way. I was really taken with this and kept trying to look in front and didn’t notice that some cows had wandered to my side of the taxi and because my window was down I guess I literally invited a cow to stick it’s head into the car. I screamed my head off in fright, the cow got frightened, the taxi driver muttered something and put his hands together to bow down to the cow and I tried to muffle my screaming. Eventually the cow wandered back to where the rest of the herd was and traffic started moving eventually but I was left quite shaken and was worried the taxi driver might ask me to get out so I concentrated on trying to roll the window back up to avoid further incidences.
After that trip, I think I visited India after almost 13 years with my friends Sam and Devna and at no point did I leave the car windows down. Just in case.