Yesterday I woke up with an ambition for adventure and exploration. I have been able to take a lot of really cool adventures in Bombay, but usually in doing so I was accompanied by Salma or Shweta.
Case in point:
Salma posing, barefoot, by the sea at Hadji Ali. Salma and I posing, in our scarves, as per her request, by the sea at Hadji Ali.
Salma looking fantastically pensive as lover boy lurks behind her. Again, at Haji Ali.
But yesterday I had nobody but myself and a lot of energy. So I googled and found out that there is that place that you can trek to where there are a lot of flamingos. I have long been fascinated by flamingos, as they are my namesake and also because grandma Ann taught me an appreciation for a good, old fashioned, yard flamingo. She used to have this really cool one that lit up and I always thought it was so spiffy.
I don’t think it actually draws a lot of visitors and probably most Mumbaikers have never even gone there, but I set out on the journey nonetheless, me, my sunscreen, my chapstick, my train pass, my camera, a water bottle, and really vague directions.
“Get off the train at Sewri Station and go to the other side of the platform. Cross over the main road and go straight until you find a fork. Go left. Then follow that road until you hit a T. It is a 10 minute walk.”
Problem 1: There were multiple forks.
Problem 2: What do I do after the T?
Problem 3: The road I was on was more like an alley with shanties in it, not an official road.
Problem 4: Ten minutes in I had not yet hit that fork so I was uncertain about the accuracy of the directions as well as my interpretation of them.
For whatever reason though, I was feeling confident and determined. Stupidly, I marched forth.
As I was sauntering down this road (right before I hit the ever so ambiguous “T”) I heard a man shout, “FLAMINGO!?”
I jumped because his voice was startling, sort of like a hollow bark.
The only reason that it caught my attention was because it scared the heebie jeebies out of me as I thought he yelled “FLEMING” and I was creeped out at the thought that this toothless man on this dirt road in an unfamiliar place knew my name. Suddenly I was in the courtyard at Oak Park High School listening for my name in the cross country roster, “Faiva! Fleming! Foote! Foresman!” My mind was drifting, searching, trying to make connections. And then I realized, duh, flamingo! It’s a common mix up, just ask my mom. She’s called Mrs. Flamingo by about half of the kids.
So I looked at him, smiled and nodded my head vigorously, with a “YES!!!” (This could have also been confusing has I was too flustered to use the culturally more relevant head bobble.) He pointed to the right of the T, with his crooked pointer finger, and then hobbled away past me after I had thanked him enthusiastically like any good tourist would.
Also I got the feeling that Flamingo was the only word that he knew in English.
Feeling re-energized in my mission and ready to face the world, I continued to my right…down a REALLY long, red, dirt (it sounds like a country song but it’s really not like that at all) lined on both sides with road semi-trucks. Ten minutes of walking through the never-ending truck lot I was feeling like that man had lied to me. But just as I almost considered turning back I saw the water ahead, so I kept walking. And what did I find over the horizon but hundreds, maybe thousands? (I’ve never been good at guessing numbers, so we can even call it trillions, if you prefer) of pink flamingos standing in the water surrounding the land.
I did linger to take some photos of the trucks, because I really love their festive quality.
There was nobody else there other than two police officers, some scrappy kids, a couple of guys on some boats, and a canoodling couple from the UK.
I tried to photograph the scene, but no photo did it justice. You simply have to see and experience it to believe it.
Note: The pictures showed up smaller than I had wanted and some were repeats (maybe?) but I am too frustrated with the snail’s pace with which the internet is running to do anything about it.