Ishwar is an old friend of ours. We spent most of our time together at parties where he used to DJ. We have not seen him for seven years, but knew that if we decided to venture to his town it would be great to hang out with him.
On Xmas eve afternoon shortly after we found our target place of slumber, Hotel Outram in the Colaba district of Mumbai, we partook in the game of wander-about. As usual, our instincts took us all the places any tour would have dragged us to in short afternoon. We gazed at the main Victorian sites found in the area and strolled throughout the gardens and plazas that one should try and see. Then we showed up on the shore where the "Gateway of India" stood. It's more or less a monument dedicated to British rule over the area. I found it kind of odd that the square was loaded with Indian tourists interested in visiting a place that symbolized their colonization from which it struggled to become independent from. I Guess I cannot assume that everyone here views western influence as a bad thing and sees the positive impact it may have had.
We called Ishwar to try and make plans with him next day if he was available. He virtually insisted we come over that night. We gave into the pressure and headed over at nearly 11pm even though we were beat after such little sleep on the Varanasi-Mumbai express.
He was already having a gathering on the rooftop of the building where he lived and it was a great opportunity to spend some time socializing. We have had some chats on trains and street corners, but have not had any major talking action outside of each other during the trip so far.
There was a couple from Houston visiting his father and there was a gal from England. The rest were Mumbai locals interested in talking about our journey and explaining the subtleties of their country. It was a refreshing evening with great company and we found ourselves staying there 'till nearly 2am.
I cannot say how nice it was to have engaging conversations helping me get a broader perspective on the diversity of the people of India. Many of these people are heading down to Goa and we'll more than likely spend some time with them there.