We have one couple from Israel on board who have been traveling around the world. They were made to get off our ship in Mumbai and told they could not return until we get to Haifa, Israel. This was unexpected and they were given little notice. Its seems that United Arab Emitrates officials told Oceania that no one from Israel could be on board when we stop at Fujairah and Dubai (even if the couple remained onboard). I really like this couple and as you can imagine they were very upset because they thought everything was in order before they began this trip in New York.
Mumbai is my 48th and last day in Asia. Mumbai is a cluster of 7 islands with 22 million people and India’s largest city. Another million travel to the city from the villages each day to work. It has some of Asia’s biggest slums.
The heart of the city has grand colonial-era buildings with beautiful parks. The Churchgate train station was huge and 500,000 people use this mode of transportation each day.
At the Churchgate Railway terminal I saw the Dabbawallahs’ of Mumbai. Each morning, around four thousand of these workers pick up 200,000 packed home cooked lunches from suburban housewives. Each worker collects about 30-40-boxes who then hands them off to another worker who takes then to the nearest rail station. That worker will hand them off to another who tansports them to the city in a special train car for delivery to the customer. The bags are picked up from the customer after lunch and are to delivered back to their home to start the whole process for the next day. This service costs $5 to $8 per month depending on how far they must travel. The uneducated workers only make one error in 3 million lunches. Their salary is about $110 per month. This system has been studies extensively by Harvard Business School.
The Gateway to India is the city’s defining landmark with the Taj Mahal Hotel right next to it. The Gateway was built to commemorate the visit of King George and Queen Mary built in 1924.
There were unique bazaars and markets which I walked a few. Crossing the street with traffic was my biggest challange at the Crawford Market.
One of the highlights of this tour for me was visiting James Ferreira’s (renowned Indian fashion designer) 150 year old mansion that included his studio. He served us local cookies and sandwiches with lemonaide. The shower in the bathroom was interesting.
Fujairah, United Arab Emitrate is my first Middle Eastern port. I will be visiting this port as well as Dubai, UAE and Salalah, Omen during the holy month of Ramadan (May 5-June 4). During this month all Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset daily and will not eat, drink, or smoke. All tourist are requested not to eat, drink, chew gum, or smoke in the presense of a Muslim during daylight hours, including on the street or in public spots. Breaking this rule is legally punishable. Men and women should wear clothes that cover their knees and shoulders. When buses pulled into the port for our tour, one of the drivers took a drink of water from a bottle and looked around to make sure no one was looking. Our balcony is on deck eight and gave us plain view of the driver.
The Fujairah Fort is more than 350 years old and was the home of the ruling family.
Al Badiyah Mosque is built of mud and stone and it the oldest mosque in the UAE.
Fujarah is just 2 hours from Dubai and visitors come to visit the Hajar Moutains and beautiful beaches and they are building many new resorts to accomadate this growth. Fujarah will be the biggest sea port in the Middle East in the next two years. They have the largest oil tank farm in the world with over 300 tanks. Sixty percent of their population are migrant workers from surrounding countries who came to build Fujarah’s infrastructure. Citzens of Fujarah earning $4,000 or less of a month get free government housing. After 15 years, the citzens own their home. New developments include a highway to Dubai, the Sheikh Mosque, the Emirate’s first big shopping mall, and many new homes and high rises.