Sightseeing in Mumbai
Another weekend had arrived and one of my roommates, Levi, invited me along to to see the Ishwardas Chunilal Yogic Health Center, Kaivalyadhama, Mumbai. The founder of this Health Center, Swami Kuvalayananda was also a student of Paramahamsa Madhavadasaji (teacher of Shri Yogendra, the Yogic Institutes founder). The Ishwardas Chunilal Yogic Center is located on Marine Drive, across from the vast expanse of the sea.
Our trip started at the Santacruz East train station. Levi and I boarded the train with ease, heading toward Churchgate. As expected the train was packed, so we stood hands over head clinging to handles hanging from the ceiling. We arrived in the station at Churchgate and proceeded to walk toward Marine Drive. Thankfully Levi knew where he was going, I was clueless.
Along the coast where we walked, there was no beach. Rather stood a retaining wall suitable for leisure. And between the retaining wall and the sea were wave breakers. In the North East USA you will find giant quarried boulders stacked on top of one another serving this purpose. Here though, they didn't use boulders, instead they had fabricated 3 pointed shapes, similar to 'jacks', made likely from concrete. It was futuristic.
We walked in the sun, for what felt like two miles. There was a heavy haze visible over the sea and buildings. Sadly, this wasn't mist or moisture, it was pollution. As we walked Levi pointed out some local scaffolding. I was stunned. On one building there looked to be sturdy scaffolding made of steel assisting the workers with renovating the building. A block away was an eight story building, being painted with bamboo scaffolding stretching upwards. The individual bamboo sticks were tied together and at various points they were tied to the building itself. They looked like toothpicks tied together with string. Honestly, I would have felt safer if they were bound by marshmallows. About six stories up I spotted a can of paint hanging freely on the end of one of the bamboo sticks. A gentleman was propped between the scaffolding and wall, apparently quite comfortable stretching to splat paint on the building. There were no planks or platforms to stand on, so really, it was more like a giant jungle gym.
Eventually we came upon the Yogic Health Center. Levi talked to the guard and we were allowed to enter. We weren't comfortable exploring too much, so we headed into the registration office. Levi was considering spending a week here after the completion of his course. (He has created a wellness center in his home country Italy called the "Joy Center", where people can take a break from the tensions of life and enjoy yoga, massage, as well as other activities, or just be near nature.)
We entered the office where information was given and taken. There were numerous books in a case, all pertaining to Yoga and Health Care. The collection was as vast as is here at the Institute. At the Yoga Institute, the emphasis is on integrating yoga into your life and education in yoga. At the Yogic Health Center, the method was more like a retreat. A person checking in would be tested and would offer reasons for coming (back pain, weight, etc.) and the doctor would determine your level of participation and various Ayurvedic and yogic 'prescriptions' to aim you in the direction of a balanced state, creating a program for your improvement.
From the Yogic Health Center found some fruit and made our way to Colaba's downtown area. We both had in mind seeking out potential gifts for loved ones. Along the street I learned how street lamp bulbs were changed. The workers weren't using bucket trucks with hydraulic suspension, rather they pushed around a very tall a-frame ladder on wheels, with one guy riding on top who would periodically reach up and change a bulb!
The plan was to first head toward the Gate of India and from there we found our way into the Taj Mahal Palace (not to be confused with the Taj Mahal mausoleum located in Agra). I hadn't any notion that we could just walk into this place, but found that a large portion of the ground floor was high class shops. This is the kind of stuff you fear to look at, as if your glance could crack or shatter such precious items. The halls and various ballrooms and sitting rooms were immaculate. I imagined it would cost a weeks' salary for me to spend a night there. The halls were cool with the air conditioning, but soon enough we were back out in the stale sun.
Levi and I walked around toward the shops and the hustle of the merchants. Walking from store front to store front wasn't any different from passing street vendors and market tenders. Everyone tried to convince us that we just couldn't leave India without a 12x15 foot rug, or some cheap jewelry or even t-shirts with ridiculous quotes like; ' i hate your t-shirt quotes '. Levi found a few gifts, I wasn't really looking too hard. We caught a train back to Santacruz in time for dinner.