More Mumbai

You have to order the black Uber.

I was going to the museum. I figured I’d spring for Premier. But what turned up was a car of no denomination, at least not one I could decipher, with a broken seatbelt driven by a guy who didn’t speak English. I figured it was just India. No! Turns out there’s another Uber page, so on the way back I sprang for the best, which turned out to be a Toyota Innova. I know, I know, we don’t have that car in the States. It’s like a mini minibus. A three row car. Which cost me all of ten bucks, instead of the four it took to get there in the “Premier,” that’s right, India’s cheap, not that I’ve got a handle on it, for that I’d have to stay here months!

You learn by asking questions. One person told me only the top five artists could tour, the rest were too busy playing weddings, devaluing their brand. But another person told me scores of acts could tour, but in both cases they said the public doesn’t like to pay. Forty percent might buy a ticket and the rest get in for free. But aren’t the paying customers pissed? They said no. What is the truth, that I’m trying to find out.

Troy Carter hipped me to a book called “Factfulness,” recommended by Bill Gates, its author posits that it’s not as bad as you think, we believe outside of the U.S. and Western Europe it’s all third world, with no education and no medical infrastructure, but that’s the way it used to be, fifty years ago, twenty, but so much progress has been made recently.

I was looking for poor people.

Privak told me there weren’t any. But did he say this because he’s an Indian? Kinda like “Wild Wild Country,” Privak believes the Bhagwan was for real, the American press depicts him as a charlatan. That’s right, we compared notes on Netflix, if you’re not international, you’re doomed, kinda like Pandora.

So we’re driving…

Oh, that’s right, the traffic. Tuesday it was insane. A free-for-all. If you’re not willing to spot barely an inch between you and the next vehicle you’re not made for Indian driving. And then there are the motorized rickshaws, little black and yellow beetles, with three wheels and a polished plastic top. They’re darting in and out of traffic, shuttling school kids, people in full religious garb… That’s another thing in Mumbai, you’re not sure whether to heed the warnings. The street food looks delicious. In New York, you’d partake, but here? And everywhere else in the world you walk the street and are afraid, but natives told me India was safe. I just came back from a walk along the strand, I was literally the only white person I encountered in an hour. Some people looked at me funny, I was a bit self-conscious, now I know what it’s like to be a minority.

So Tuesday Ralph and Privak and another associate took me to the Gateway of India. Built by the British, they exited through it when they left. And it’s there that the terrorists entered when they went to bomb the Taj Mahal Hotel and Leopold’s to shoot up the place. You remember. Or maybe you don’t, maybe it has to happen in the States for it to register. Anyway, a group of Pakistani terrorists bombed the hotel and then went to Leopold’s restaurant and killed people there. So now there’s security, like at my hotel, the Taj Lands End, they lift the hood and the trunk of every car before they let you in the driveway. And they scan your body and your goodies before they let you inside. So, once again, I ask you, is Mumbai safe or not? I don’t know!

But I do know that you cannot feel safe in transportation, just because you’re not driving that does not mean you’re immune. I wondered how there were not more accidents and then BAM! We got rear-ended. I’m thinking about my back, I’m thinking I’d better buy one of those international health policies.

And we drove by this high-rise which was the house of some billionaire, it’s got six hundred rooms, or so they say, it has so much security outside you’d think it’s a military outpost.

But so many of the buildings are schmutzy, they need a paint job.

And nearby the hotel they’re camped out in droves hoping to get a peek at a Bollywood star, I can’t remember his name, but it wouldn’t mean anything to you anyway.

But Bollywood is even bigger than the legend. You know how you go to a place and you find out things are overblown? Not Bollywood. It runs the music business. It’s all about having your track in a film. And there are “playback artists,” who sing the songs for the actors, they’re known by name, they can go on tour, Bollywood is big business, far bigger than the movie business in America in terms of social, political and music business.

So the Brits have been coming here for centuries. Like the Beatles, looking for enlightenment, looking for answers.

Is it achievable here?

I don’t know.

But it is hot and it is humid and if you live in Los Angeles you might consider it to be unbearable. Then again, people live in Miami. And as bad as the weather is in NYC, people stay there.

And speaking of people, the young ones are trying to stand out, via fashion.

I’m literally halfway around the world, twelve and a half hours ahead of L.A., and I’d like to tell you it’s the same, but it isn’t!

P.S. Although everybody has a smartphone, iPhones are exotic. You can buy cheapies for far under a hundred bucks.

P.P.S. Everybody says people don’t like to pay for music. And right now, a streaming subscription costs you a dollar or two a month. And you might think no one can afford it, but everybody here says they can. They say music was devalued in the cassette era, when albums were sold for twelve cents. That’s right.

P.P.P.S. They skip generations here. Outside the metropolis there is no cable, it’s all about mobile. You do everything on your phone. When we go to 5G in the States, watch out for this. I’m sick of paying Charter $200 a month. Oh, if I cancel TV the internet rate just goes up. Technology can disrupt anything, be prepared.

P.P.P.P.S. My favorite exhibit at the museum was the history of man. And what’s interesting is like the Jews, they used the term CE, not AD, and BC. As in “Common Era’ and “Before Common Era.” Sure, Jesus is here, but he does not dominate, the foremost religion is Hinduism. And once we stop fighting over religion, there could be peace in the world.

P.P.P.P.P.S. The best stop was at the train station. That’s one legend that’s true, public transportation is crowded! They literally have to squeeze you on. But the trains… They look like they were built in the forties, they’re dark and dirty and you stay in them for days, just like out of a movie. As for buses, I’ve yet to see a clean one, or a new one.

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. There are beggars, there are people with no shoes, never mind teeth. They coexist with the wealthy. And in the middle of the street I saw four guys towing a stand of bamboo, which is used for scaffolding. That’s right, the past and the present coexist.

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