I can feel myself staring to wind down (or up) as my time in India comes to an end. I've spent the last few days cycling around Mumbai, taking in a few of the sights eg. Falkland St, the laundry guys near Mahalaxmi Railway station. On one of my forays out into the city, near a cricket ground across from the Chowpatty seaface, I spotted some bicycles with gears & two Westerners standing near them. "Other cyclists", I thought with excitement, as I've not met or seen any others on the trip. They turned out to be a pleasant young Australian couple who are working aboard the cruise ship Oriana as photographers. They've taken bicycles with them, and cycle around the various cities they stop in. It was good to chat with them; they are contemplating doing some cycling in a yet-to-be-decided country or countries.
Mumbai is a colossal & at times chaotic city, and cycling around it feels nearly as dangerous as cycling in Melbourne. Being a tourist, the 'hassle' factor is fairly high here. It does amuse me when some of the dodgiest-looking people you are ever likely to meet sidle up to you in the street and mutter "change money?". You would have to either have a total lack of judgement or be totally insane to even contemplate taking up their offer.
The other thing I've been doing is sorting out a fucking cardboard box for the bicycle. A telephone call to the Qantas office here revealed that, yes, they do insist on the bicycle being in a box, but no, they weren't able to supply one or suggest where to get one. Luckily the Indians are intrepid folk, and a worker in the hotel I'm staying in was able to find me a old refrigerator box. I'll be spending this afternoon cutting & remodelling it into a bicycle box. What a pain. So, words of advice to myself & other intending cyclists - DON'T TRAVEL QANTAS if you plan to take your bicycle. Most south-east asian airlines (eg Garuda, Malaysian, etc) are much more relaxed about this, and let you more or less wheel your bike aboard.