Time to meet all the ex- pat staff. It was arranged that we were all going to meet at the school, and travel to meet Komal (another ex-pat teacher from Michelle’s school) and her family. There it was arranged that we would visit some of the local community temples showing off their individually made Ganesha statutes.
After a transport problem, we finally got two taxis and travelled south into town, and met Komal. We were introduced to her family. They interesting live in an old British-made building whose original purpose was to house the elephants. Komal’s family were very welcoming and had made us all traditional foods and drinks.
It was raining, so armed with our essential umbrellas, we followed Komal and her aunt, around the area, visiting some 5 different purpose built temples that housed Ganesh. The designs and colours were amazing. The people in these temples were so surprised to see westerner visiting their temple that they wanted to talk to us and have their picture taken with them. We all felt like film stars, and were the only white people seen around that area.
After leaving one temple, two young guys came around a corner on their motorbike, nothing unusual, except my son Andrew was standing there. The guys on their bike saw his blond hair and were so amazed that they nearly crashed their bike into the wall. What fame!
We were still following Komal’s aunt around, looking at the Ganesh temples; the last one was the most memorable and not because of Ganesh.
Following the same pattern of people coming up to us, asking us where we were from, and thanking us for visiting their temple, and then asking for their picture to be taken with us, I struck up a conversation with one of the guys an older man, who seemed to have a presence. He was ordering a few men around. Another man came up to me and said that he was a very important man, a general of the community, which really didn’t mean much to me. However I spoke to him and he had his photo taken with us.
Coming out of a temple, he told us that he was a business man and he owned the largest umbrella company in Mumbai. What with the amount of rain and the monsoon, this obviously must be a lucrative business. So then he asks if we want to take a look – I of course, agreed.
So out of the temple over to a building that looks like it was built in the 1920s, we are all put in a lift. I had my worries and old iron gate is pulled over the lift, I have only seen these kinds of lifts in movies, and the movies are usually set in New York. Then there is a lift guard man, with his whistle, which is used to indicate when the iron gates were to be shut. Up we go three floors and we are then lead down a corridor and into a massive room.
I have never seen so many umbrellas in my life. There is a cottage industry operation in full flow, and 5 guys working in their different jobs of assembling the umbrellas.
More pictures are taken. All of us ex-pats are thinking ‘how did we end up here’. The owner enters the factory and wants a photo of all of us. This was the cue for us to all start singing. “We are singing in the rain, just singing in the rain”
Most ex-pats knew the chorus but sadly (or not), it was only Michelle and I that knew the whole song, which we blurted out with full gusto. Perhaps this photo will be used as advertisement, and I will see myself on a massive billboard whilst travelling on the roads in Mumbai.
The boys got a free umbrella!
Only In Khush India.