Mumbai #1

So I was on the plane getting ready to eat my lunch (dinner? snack? who knows, as the time got really skewed and they put food under our noses at least three times). I took out my hand antibacterial cleanser and it exploded all over my tray and lap. I thought it missed my food so I took a nice bite out of my roll. Nope, got a good mouthful of it. Nasty wretched feelings took over as I spat and rinsed. After eating the untainted parts of my lunch, having nothing better to do, I started wondering – what’s in there anyway? and so casually read the label on the hand cleaner: “if swallowed contact poison center immediately.” This did not give me a warm fuzzy feeling. Let’s see, we’re only one hour into a 15 hour flight, and even if I could call the poison center, I don’t think my Hindi is up to this, so I did what any other sane person would do in this situation: pretended it didn’t happen.
OK, so now I am in Mumbai and my CS hosts (that’s slang for couchsurfing) are brilliant. I went to the train station – I have this down, I thought. “This” being the Byzantine system by which a person acquires a train ticket in India. I confidently approach the Women only window. I want a ticket to Hyderabad, 2 tier AC for two days away. Nope, waitlisted for every one. I know my cue: is there a tourist quota? yes, there is one ticket left and go down to the tourist window number 28 to buy it. I pull out my credit card to pay for it – no no, we don’t take credit cards. But, I protest weakly, the women’s window advertises Visa and Mastercard. Well, the tourist window (just 2 windows down) doesn’t take them, so what kind of currency do you want to pay with ma’am? OK, how about rupees. Yes, we accept rupees, but you must give the receipt that came with them when you exchanged them. They didn’t give me a receipt in New York (I lie). Well, we won’t do it without it. But you could pay in American dollars, and that would be 27 dollars. OK, I say, with a bad feeling, as I study the two twenties I am about to hand her, because I already know what is coming. Exact change ma’am – she is now looking at me with an evil eye. That’s all I have, I tell her. But (now is my moment) I could give you one twenty, and then (I add brilliantly) I could give you some rupees!! The dragon lady finally takes pity on me and prints out a ticket.
 Leaving for Hyderabad on Saturday.

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