It can make things a lot easier to get an Indian phone number while traveling in India. It’s helpful for arranging cabs and nice for when you meet people. Also, if you are visiting friends in India, having a local phone number can make communicating cheap and easy.
Ok, so how do you do this?
Basically you’ll be replacing the SIM chip in your unlocked cell phone (the key here is that your phone must be unlocked, not all phones are and as far as I know you can’t unlock the phone yourself. You buy a phone that is “unlocked.” Sorry, that’s the extent of my technical knowledge on that subject.)
I went to the concierge at my hotel to get the SIM chip. The brand I got was Vodaphone. It didn’t cost a lot, maybe ten bucks and was well worth it.
I had to show my passport and the phone number for India was set to automatically expire when my Indian visa expired. It was all very neat and tidy.
So I took my SIM chip back to my room and then realized that I didn’t have anything to use to open my phone so I could switch my existing chip with the new chip. That’s when I thought of my earring, and this worked perfectly.
Goodness, this blogging stuff takes time, but it is nice to keep a record. The screen on my iPod malfunctions and WordPress autocorrects with sometimes embarrassing words and I don’t always notice it.
Tomorrow is my last day at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and I am sad! Sometimes a stay can be too long, but not here. I haven’t really even explored it yet!
Ringo Starr and John Lennon stayed here. This is the hotel where John and Yoko didn’t emerge from their room for five days!
Duke Ellington, my most beloved composer, stayed here!
And many others.
So photos are forthcoming.
The swelling on my feet and legs has gone down, but is still present.
This afternoon I will visit my company’s office here. That is pretty exciting,and I already have it in mind to talk shop and ask how my department can better serve our India office. I have a few of my own ideas of course!
Last night I got to meet my colleague and his family, and he was kind enough to bring Epson salts for my feet!
He has a lovely family and they have very generously invited me over for dinner tonight. So I will see another area of Mumbai.
But I digress. I was going to write about my plan for tomorrow.
6 a.m. – Rise and shine.
7 a.m. – Grab a quick bite and go to the Gateway of India and take photos of the birds.
8 a.m. – Swimming pool for the rest of the day!
So I drank the water I was served today and it wasn’t from a bottle. I was assured a few days ago that the Taj is very careful with their water and filters it, etc. So we shall see.
I’ve decided to drive my car to the airport and park it there while I’m gone.
Portland International Airport (PDX) at 7000 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR 97218 offers a long-term parking garage and economy parking. If I completely swear off lattes for 2 months, I could recoup the cost of long-term parking, and according to the website the garage is only 74% full right now.
And, there’s a video:
Or, I can park in the Economy lot and pay about half as much. I’ll have to wait for a bus to the airport, and having lived in North Portland, I know the area. Not looking forward to that at 3 a.m. this morning.
The Economy Parking Lot also has a video. The Economy lot is 81% full right now.
For either one, I can’t figure out when you pay. Looks like immediately, but then do I hold onto my pay stub for the whole trip? How does that work?
I love history and archaeology, so the moment I learned about the Elephanta Caves (a World Heritage Site), I knew they were first on my list. Although it’s unknown who built these caves or when, art historians have placed these caves at the 5th to 8th century A.D. Some say these caves are not man made.
The Elephanta Caves on are Elephanta Island, which is east of Mumbai (old?) and west of Navi (new) Mumbai. The island is 1.5 miles in length, and the journey there by ferry will take about an hour. Mango, tamarind, and karanj trees cover the island.
Below is a map of my new stomping grounds: (click to enlarge)
Please imagine that the images below fit together properly. Travel has no place for perfectionism. 😉
Historical Shiv Mandir (Northeast on Island)
Historical Shivja Temple (Northwest on Island)
Elephanta Caves (Central)
Elephanta Lake Garden (South Central)
Cannon Point (West)
Shree Datta Mandir, Gharapuri (South)
Gaondevi Temple (South)
Someshwar Mandir (South)
New Word Alert!
Mandir — a Hindu Temple
Bandar — Port
Hillock — small hill or mound
Stupa —dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine
Here is what the inscription at the island says about the Elephanta Caves (take from a tourist video on YouTube):
The island of Elephanta, originally known as Gharapuri, derives its name from a massive stone image of Elephant now displayed in the “Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Garden” (Victoria Garden) in Mumbai. The cave complex of Elephanta comprises a total of 7 caves. Of them, 5 are in the lower western side, while 2 are at the eastern top of the hillock. Out of 5 caves at the lower side, the Cave No.1 is exclusively carved with various manifestation of Lord Shiva. It consists of a pillared hall with a small shrine and four entrance doors flanked by the guardians. While the massive but graceful figures of divinities, guardians, and certain architectural features, such as the square pillar with cushion capitals suggest Chalukyan influence, the depiction of mountains and clouds and the hairstyles of woman are reminiscent of Gupta art.
Facing north this main cave consists of a sanctum and massive hall divided into 5 bays. The excellent carved panels on the walls of this cave include the Yogeshvara (Lord of Yoga), Nataraja Shiva (Cosmic Dancer), Shivaparvati, Ardhanarishvara Shiva, Kalyansunder Murti, and Maheshmurti. The ceiling of the main cave is believed to have been originally painted with different colours. The Maheshamurti of Shiva is depicted on the south wall with three aspects of creation, protection, and destruction, revealing a masterpiece of Chalykyan Gupta art.
The circular pedastal in the open courtyard marks the seat of Nandi (Bull), the vehicle of Shiva. The side cave has a small shrine and a Pradakshinapatha (circumambulatory passage) with an interesting panel of Ashtamatrikas (eight mother goddesses) flanked by Kartikeya and Ganesha.
The other caves are plain and lesser embellished. The other antiquarian remains found in Elephanta Caves are stupa (3rd Century B.C.) at the top of the hillock Kshatrapa coins of the 4th century AD and some sculptures including Mahishasurmardini, four headed image, Brahma, Vishnu and Garuda.
This site was declared by the Archaeological Survey of India as a monument of national importance vides no. 2704-A, dated 26.5.1909 and thereafter inscribed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
According to a Wikipedia article about the caves, the Portuguese, who took power in 1534, did considerable damage to the caves. “Portuguese soldiers used the reliefs of Shiva in the main cave for target practice, sparing only the Trimurti sculpture. They also removed an inscription related to the creation of the caves.”
(Before you read any further, please note that if you are traveling to a foreign country, you should consult a medical professional on what immunizations are advised because the risks are always changing. I am noting the particular immunizations I am taking for my upcoming trip to India so that I have easy access to what I’ve gotten—just in case. Also, the vaccines were a little more complicated than I expected them to be, with scheduling concerns and time needed pre-trip for dosing.)
I have heard about the risks posed by immunizations, and while I think immunizations for children are important, I suspect that we Americans might be overdoing it. Maybe we get too much, too soon?
Also, actions speak louder than words. When it came to my own body, I didn’t hesitate about getting immunizations. For me, weighing all the potential risks, it was a no-brainer.
My general practitioner said he couldn’t give me the immunizations and advised me to consult a “travel clinic.” So on January 23, 2017, I visited the travel clinic in my area, and since these immunizations are not covered by insurance, I paid $442 for two shots and a prescription for two sets of pills. I walked out with a travel card, which in medical lingo indicated the vaccinations I had just received. Thankfully, this was also written out for me (in layman’s terms) in my departing paperwork.
The vaccines I got are listed below: (A shot in each shoulder. As of Feb 5, my shoulders still ache slightly; 24 hours after the shots, I experienced extreme drowsiness and fatigue to the point where I questioned if it was safe for me to drive; this subsided after a day.)
Hepatitis A and B—(need to return prior to the trip for a booster; afterward offers lifetime protection)
Vivotif for Typhoid—(pills contain weakened live bacteria) Yum. A booster is needed every 5 years for those to remain at risk. (Protection up to 5 years.) A neat feature for this medication is that you can text TRAVEL to the manufacturer, and they will send you reminders so you’ll take your pills on time.
Atovaquone-proguanil (aka Malarone) for Malaria—(real-time protection; not long lasting)
Vivotif. The pills are a little tricky, especially if you have many distractions in your life. The Vivotif offers, but does not guarantee, up to 5 years of protection from Typhoid Fever. You have four pills to take, which must be taken a day apart. You need to finish the entire round of medication at least one week prior to departing. Pills must be taken on an empty stomach (two hours after a meal or one hour before a meal). Vivotif must be kept refrigerated. I figured, why wait to the last minute, so I’m beginning my course of Vivotif today.
Malarone. I have to take these pills with me to India. I have to start taking the pills 2 days before I depart and continue taking them for 7 days after I return.
So now, what am I hopefully protected against? My departing paperwork says the following:
TETANUS (Lockjaw). Rare in the United States today. Causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body. Can lead to tightening of the muscles in the head and neck so that you can’t open your mouth, swallow, or sometimes even breathe. Tetanus kills about 10% of those infected, even after they receive the best medical care. Enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds.
DIPTHERIA. Rare in the United States today. Can cause a thick coating in the back of the throat; Can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis, and death. Caused by bacteria. Spread from person to person through secretions from coughing and sneezing.
PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough). A baterial disease that causes severe coughing spells, which result in difficulty breathing. Marked by vomiting and disturbed sleep. Can cause weight loss, incontinence, and rib fractures. Up to 5% of adults who contract pertussis are hospitalized or have complications that include pneumonia or death. Spread from person to person through secretions from coughing and sneezing.
HEPATITIS A. A viral disease that affects the liver. Caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water or via contact with an infected person. Most people recover from infection. Associated with lack of safe water and poor sanitation and hygiene. Can cause acute liver failure, which is often fatal. Does not cause chronic liver disease. Most people recover.
HEPATITIS B. Hepatitis B is a serious infection that affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus. Can cause cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer. Can cause loss of appetite; fatigue, pain in muscles, joints, and stomach; diarrhea; vomiting; and jaundice. People who are chronically infected can spread the disease even though they don’t look sick. Virus is easily spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. People can also be infected from contact with a contaminated object, where the virus can live for up to 7 days. Can be infected by breaks in skill (bites, cuts, sores), contact with objects (toothbrushes, razors, unsanitized medical devices), sex, sharing needles, being stuck by a used needle.
TYPHOID FEVER. Can be caught from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. It is caused by a bacterium, S Typhi. Causes a high fever, fatigue, weakness, stomach pains, headache, loss of appetite, and sometimes a rash. If untreated, kills up to 30% of those infected. Some infected people become carriers and spread the disease to others.
MALARIA. A serious, sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite. There are four kinds of malaria that can affect humans. You get Malaria from the bite of a malaria-infected mosquito. Once a person is bitten, malaria parasites enter the bloodstream and travel to the person’s liver where they grow and multiply. The parasites leave the liver any time from 8 days to several months, and enter the person’s red blood cells, where they release toxins, which make the person feel sick. Symptoms include flu-like illness, shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. Malaria can cause anemia and jaundice due to the loss of red blood cells. P. falciparum type of malaria can cause kidney failure, seizures, confusion, coma, and death. Some malaria parasites can rest in the liver for up to 4 years! Prevention: Take the antimalarial drug exactly on schedule without missing doses. Prevent mosquito and other insect bites. Use DEET repellent on exposed skin and wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, especially from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes tend to bite.
Other diseases which could be of concern in India, but for which I have not received vaccinations include:
Cholera—(risk exists throughout the country; not sure why I didn’t get this one); potentially fatal bacterial disease of the small intestine; severe vomiting and diarrhea; can kill within hours if not treated; spread through contaminated food or water from infected human feces
Japanese encephalitis—(Risk exists, but I’m not traveling to a high-risk area; insect precautions recommended)
Rabies—(a very expensive vaccine at over $400; but risks are significant from dogs, bats, monkeys; scratches should be taken seriously)
Brucellosis—(Risk exists throughout India; travellers advised not to consume unpasteurized dairy products.)
Chikungunya—(Peak transmission from June through October; risk exists throughout year, especially in Southern India; daytime insect precautions are recommended.)
Dengue—(Significant risk exists in urban and rural areas; transmission occurs throughout the year especially during rainy season; daytime insect precautions are recommended.)
Leishmaniasis—(not prevalent in Maharashtra state; insect precautions recommended)
Leptospirosis—(risks to those in Maharashtra with fresh water exposure)
Melioidosis—(risk exists throughout the country, especially in Maharashtra and other states; highest transmission activity is June through September; avoid contact with potentially contaminated soil or water)
Traveler’s diarrhea—(High risk throughout the country, including deluxe accommodations; My doc recommended that I take Immodium and Peptobismol with me; still need to purchase those.)
Tuberculosis—(India is in highest risk category for TB; IGRA should be taken by those planning to spend more than 3 months; “travelers should avoid public transportation and crowded public places whenever possible”); stay away from people with persistent cough.
Misc. Risks: Air pollution, terrorist, train accidents.
Other precautions: hand washing; avoid street vendors, buffets without food covers, shellfish, raw or undercooked foods, unpasteurized dairy products, mayo, unpeeled fruits, and salads, tap water, and ice. Use sealed water bottles for brushing teeth.
My doctor began our vaccination discussion by saying that the majority of the world’s drug-resistant diseases originate in India.
Shopping List: Immodium, DEET (30-35%) or Picaridin (greater than 20%), Peptomismol tablets
Predeparture: pack eyeglasses, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, lip balm, medical insurance
Medical Care in Mumbai:
Private ambulance in Mumbai—Breach Candy Hospital — +91.22.2366.7997
P. D. Hindjua National Hospital and Medical Research Center— +91.22.2445.2575 or 1298