Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore!
After our glorious five days off visiting the Taj Mahal and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, it was back to work – bam, bam, bam – three cities in three days! First was Mumbai, formerly called Bombay, which all the natives call Bombay. I was getting so confused by the end of our stay there I was calling in Mombay. Whatever it’s called, it’s definitely the New York of India.
Here is the skyline from the bridge that separates Mumbai from South Mumbai, which is where we were headed.
The next day, we had only two hours to see the entire city of Bombay before we had to do the seminar, which is, of course, ridiculous. But our driver managed to show us some cool stuff.
In South Bombay, tuk-tuks (3-wheeled taxis) are forbidden, so instead it was filled with black cabs, and there were so many it really reminded me of Manhattan.
He stopped at a place called Dhobi Ghat where men wash laundry in the open air. We didn’t understand what he was talking about until we saw the view from the bridge. He said they do the laundry from all the nearby businesses and hospitals which seemed really inefficient to me, but what the hell do I know?
The seminar went exceptionally well in Mumbai which was a big weight off our shoulders after five days between gigs. They served an incredible array of aphrodisiac appetizers – smoked oyster “shots” in a fresh tomato sauce, dragon fruit and cucumber “spoonfuls” with an tangy vinigrette, banana chocolate circles to die for – it was quite an event. Not to mention a fully catered Indian meal afterwards. Then we were encouraged to check out the rooftop bar which had a 360 degree view of Mumbai.
I sat in the ‘silver chair’ which apparently sees a lot of party action.
It was a breathtaking view
It’s not a city you could ever see in a few hours, but since that was what we had, we decided to be grateful for what we did see. We had to apply our lessons from the Dalai Lama, after all.
If we didn’t see much of Mumbai, we saw even less of Chennai. The work schedule was so hectic that we had to start the moment we arrived and then flew out early the next morning. I literally took four pictures in this city (so sad – it has a lovely beach apparently!) which I’m sharing with you here – all taken inside our hotel. Sigh.
Okay, the mechanical massage chair and fresh watermelon juice eased the burden a bit.
What we lost in Chennai, we made up for in Bangalore with our day off. The last two seminars went so well we were awash in relief to enjoy a day off before heading home. We didn’t know what there was to see in Bangalore, so we were content to hang around our 22 acre 19th century British colonial hotel with its spas and salons.
HOWEVER, the night before at the seminar, we met a most extraordinary gentlemen, Ravi, or as he’s known, RVM, who asked us if we’d like to see a statue of Ganesh that he built. I told him we were sad that we didn’t see any Ganesh statues with the big Ganesh festival going on, and boy, he more than made up for that as you’ll see!
RVM is a self-made man who, having made his fortune at a young age, is now dedicating his life to creating good on the planet. He believes that there is a greater power in the universe and that all the various gods in all the various religions are all talking about the same power. He believes that people should be filled with joy every day, and that even one moment of sadness is a waste of time.
He also believes in men separating their orgasm from their ejaculation, a topic which Dr. Ava knows a LOT about, so the two of them got on like a house on fire. He was a truly inspiring guy.
He sent his van to pick us up and take us to his temple.
Inside were four plush seats with a bar and telephones and DVD player…..but we hadn’t seen nuthin’ yet.
We walked into his temple and saw the biggest Buddha we’d seen since landing in India.
There were people everywhere, worshipping away, while RVM told us all about his philosophy on life, and his philanthropy too. He opened a completely free hospital for the poor in Bangalore. They have 200 beds and are working fast to bring that number up to 1,000. He showed us before and after pictures of some of the abused or infected children that had come to his hospital and it was absolutely uplifting to see the difference he’s making in people’s lives.
At the temple, there were little ‘stations’ where you could perform rituals of all different kinds, sending peace out to the river of the universe here…
Tying a symbolic ‘trouble’ string on a banister there, leaving your problem forever behind you. Here I am tying my string, with Ganesh behind me – the son of Shiva, and the center of a Ganesh holiday which began Sept. 9.
Along the sides of this temple were steep narrow corridors with dioramas depicting all the different hindu myths and miracles – it was so dark and claustrophobic in there that I couldn’t take any pictures, but suffice it to say, this was the coolest fucking place of worship I’d ever seen in my life!
And made all the better by our wonderful and gracious host who was so lit up from within, and so excited about life. THEN he took us up to his office on the roof. Here’s the view from there.
It was a crazy paradise on the roof with birds and bunnies all over the place! We got there just in time for pigeon feeding time.
His office was this gleaming white free-standing room in the middle of a series of fabricated streams and ponds.
We went inside, had tea, cuddled bunnies, and talked about his plans to make people’s lives better.
I’ve really never met anyone quite like this man, RVM, and I hope to see him again. We might just have to film a documentary about him.
The next day we flew home! A memorable send-off, to say the least.