Truth be told I never had any intention of going to India, I knew absolutely nothing about Bollywood, I thought everyone in India rode elephants to school, I was completely clueless and cannot tell you why I left London.... Truth be told I can, it was to get over someone, and it worked! There's no better way to move on than to travel half way across the world to start a fresh. Done, dusted, it was the best thing I ever did. Although not the best thing I ever did was to not plan or research anything, other than of course watch Slumdog Millionaire. Absorbing all the research done by their entire team in just 2 hours, I was basically Pippa Patel by this point.
My first night in Mumbai was terrifying. It's one of those moments when you sit down and think 'where on earth am I and what have I done?' the streets had been filled with homeless people, legless people, dogs, goats, even poor little homeless birds. It was full of coloured sarees, playing children, sunshine and palm trees. Not to mention the unmissable television aerial skyline of the slums, similar to London's chimney pots. The extremes of sickness and health, happiness, sadness or wealth just right there for all to see. No filter. A beautifully chaotic atmosphere of the unknown. I had lost my luggage somewhere in Delhi and had just been preparing my worst case scenario; to dive from a moving car driven by a total stranger who had only my picture and couldn't speak much English. It was beyond stressful as every vehicle was less than 0.5mm from the next. But after a seriously delayed flight and failing to come up with a strategy if nobody came for me, I was unbelievably relieved to see someone at least trying to abduct or save me. But that is no excuse. Elephant or no elephant. Do not try this at home.
However, this was the lucky moment I met Sonu! My legend spot boy who saved me multiple times from food poisoning and who learned my I'm-so-hungry-I-don't-care-anymore face, saving my entire career and mental stability at multiple junctions. Hats off to you Sonu!
So there I was, in a new place, sitting on the bed looking at my tiny handbag and realising I had nothing and knew nothing, and could be murdered any minute.
After a night of no sleep and no courage to leave the apartment, food wasn't on my mind, not having clean underwear or a toothbrush wasn't on my mind. The giant cockroach in the bathroom was everything on my mind. I had never seen a cockroach in my life, it was massive, it had tentacles, it ran faster than the latest BMW and it was most definitely spying on me. If you've seen a cockroach you'll know they can read minds, they love to watch people in the shower, and know exactly how to send shivers all the way up your back and make you jump around, skin crawling and mind freaking out. They also enjoy playing that game of getting as close to you as possible without you waking, I enjoy that game too but not in this situation. So after failing to kill him, and a little like the time I parked curved around a post in a multi-storey car park and left it for later, I left him for later and decided braving the streets of beggars would be a better option than dying of hunger in there and being eaten by Mr Cockroach.
England has next to no homeless compared with India. We are unbelievably sheltered in this big wide world, we have absolutely no idea of real life. We feel like homeless people are more likely to attack us out of desperation for money and food to survive another day. But as pointed out by mother hen, 'most people in the world are good, homeless or not, most people are not out to murder you Pippa'. Bingo, correcto. So off out I went, to explore Mumbai for myself.