As we selected which Thai dishes to order off iPads placed in front of us at the trendy Thai restaurant called Koh, on Marine Drive, Kumud pointed out the bizarreness of life in Mumbai. Here we were tapping and swiping away on an iPad, while not 30 minutes ago we had been enjoying the hospitality of Cuffe Parade Police Station, trying to get Mira’s passport application moved one inch further, seated among ladies of the night and local ruffians.
Applying for a passport extension had already involved two visits to the CID office opposite Crawford Market, with Kumud carrying stacks of meticulously completed forms and attempting to counter balance my impatience with officialdom.
Post the 2009 terrorist attacks on Mumbai Indian authorities have become very serious about background checks, which means that everything from applying for a bank account, a phone connection or in this case, a new passport for a thirteen - year old, requires an extensive “KYC” (Know Your Customer) procedure.
The plain clothes policemen had already visited the apartment to check up on us, but what was needed now was an additional visit with husband and daughter in tow. More forms were signed, then off to meet his superior officer, in uniform -who appeared to have come fresh from an interrogation - his signature, then another of ours, and then we were out on to the chaotic streets surrounding the police station.
Cuffe Parade houses some of Mumbai’s wealthiest residents in swanky apartments built on reclaimed land, the Taj President Hotel , customer friendly shopping arcades, a base of the Indian Navy and ... a few thousand people who appear to spend the evenings sitting on pavements, as their dwellings wedged in between all the swankiness don’t exactly encourage lounging.
Hence Kumud’s comment about the bizarreness and extremes of life, as we squinted our eyes in the very loungy and husky surroundings of Koh, at the Intercontinental on Marine Drive.
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.