Our crazy adventure began the second we stepped foot onto the public bus outside our hotel in the Colaba district of Mumbai. The sounds and the people we encountered on our way to the train station brought us fully into the fabric of the city. Our train ride on the "backbone of Mumbai" was intense as the train filled with commuters headed to who knows where in the city. As we got off the train we were greeted by our two guides from Reality Tours. These guides led us into the heart of Dharavi informing us about the community and importance of the commercial aspect of the slum, known as "the heart of Mumbai". While walking through Dharavi we experienced a range of emotions that deeply affected our attitudes towards each other and the understanding of what a slum is. Most importantly we learned that a slum is not a place full of crime and poverty, but a place where communities come together to work hard for the things they love and care for. Krishna's goal for changing people's perspective of the slums was definitely accomplished. Although we (Maggie, Lilly, and Katie) were split up for our tours, we made sure to be good leaders for our groups as we traveled through the very tight-net paths that finally led us to the community center that has been set up through Reality Gives, the non-profit arm of Reality Tours, which Krishna Pujari (our country coordinator) is the founder. We were then greeted by plenty of smiling faces that were intrigued by our own culture and experiences. We played many games with the students that allowed us to have an understanding of communication with them. After having a wonderful lunch with the students, we girls were treated to a beautiful henna tattoo on our hands. Then saying goodbye, we were then challenged to ride a taxi back to the hotel where we would prepare for dinner. If you think traffic in Dallas is bad, HA you are wrong. The streets of Mumbai are wild with taxis, mopeds, bicyclists, and walkers and cows. We finally reached to hotel for some much needed rest. We ended the day with a walk to a park where we did activities and shared information about ourselves and our fears for the trip. Then we walked to dinner where we enjoyed our final meal before heading to the home-stays. Tomorrow we look forward to traveling and greeting our homestay families where we will be spending 5 days with them in Chinchoti. Bye
Maggie, Katie, Lilly
P.s. Hi mom and dad, we love and miss you, we are doing great. J
The leaders of the day are myself (Ben) and Raunak. The day started with our first AMP session. AMP is short for analyze, manage, prepare and it is a process that we use to prepare ourselves for the days activities. Today we got to venture out into the city of Mumbai, the most populated city in India. Our tour started with a walk to see the famous Gateway to India which is directly across from the super nice Taj Hotel. We learned about Shivaji Maharaj, who has a statute overlooking the monument. After the gateway we toured Banganga Tank, a sacred site to Hindus contained within the city (see picture above). We then got an opportunity to try some authentic Indian food, it did not disappoint. Our city tour continued to Malaba Hill and the Hanging Gardens, then to Gandhiji's house (we added the ji out of respect). At Gandhi's house we were able to learn about his life and read letters that he wrote to Tolstoy, Roosevelt, and even Hitler. We also saw the small room where he worked and read. The tour of the city ended at a spot where they take care of the sacred cows of the city.
At the conclusion of our city tour, Coach Dunn, Krishna and myself (Raunak) took a taxi to Crawford Market to purchase school supplies for the kids of Chinchoti. The "School in a Bag" project is my Leadership Project and it is being done as a collaborative effort between Parish Abroad and the Leadership Institute. We purchased the supplies from Star Stationary, a wholesale school supply business. While we waited for them to organize and box up the supplies, Krishna decided to get some street food. Coach Dunn went full Anthony Bourdain and joined Krishna in eating what looked to be delicious food. I abstained. Once we got the supplies, we had to find a taxi willing to take us back to Colaba, where the hotel is. After about 10 attempts, one driver agreed and off we went into the Mumbai traffic.
Our day concluded with a fantastic dinner at a rooftop restaurant overlooking Mumbai Harbour. After dinner, all we want to do is to take a cold bucket shower and go to sleep.
Hello family and friends of the PES program in India. The students have arrived in Mumbai. They will start updating the blog tomorrow. Please don't hesitate to call with any questions 303-679-3412. Thank you for your trust and support.
Just landed in Dubai, UAE after a 14 hour flight. Everyone is safe and just a little tired, but wandering the airport here is fascinating. Lunch for the boys was at Shake Shack and the girls hit a Starbucks -gotta love globalization. We are enjoying some down time before our flight to Mumbai departs.