Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When I first moved into the condo on the 32nd floor overlooking Andheri West in Mumbai back in April, I noticed, when scanning the horizon on my first night, a golden temple glowing brightly in the distance.
Lit up like a beacon, it drew my eye every night as I sat on my window seat or out on the balcony. I wondered where it was exactly and which god was worshipped there? It stood on the northern most horizon, on a hill far above Andheri West and on the other side of the marshlands. During the day it was still pretty impressive, albeit hard to see due to the smog. At night, when it was lit up, it looked a bit like the golden Wat Phra Kheo in Bangkok.
Weeks went by and I could not figure out what it was. I searched “golden temple” in Northern Mumbai and found nothing. I looked at google maps but any indication of a temple in the area I thought it was located was clearly not big enough — if I could see it from who knows how many miles away it had to be huge.
Then, on one of my last nights in town, I finally remembered to ask my roommate if she knew what it was. I had asked her weeks previously during a social gathering we had had on the balcony with a bunch of girlfriends and a bunch of bottles of wine and thought I had remembered she made a vague comment that it was some sort of water temple. I remember thinking that was interesting because the way it was lit up at night, it looked like it was on fire. I decided to ask again because I was thinking about making a trek out there but since I cannot tell if it’s exceptionally huge and far away or if it is closer than it looks, I don’t want to just blindly get into a rickshaw. Again, we were sitting out on the balcony with Pinky, Harvashi and Joey, drinking wine, and Sonia replies, “Oh.. it’s a water park.”
“It’s a water PARK?” I splutter.
“Yeah. You know, we should all go out there this weekend. It’s been so hot.” The other girls and Joey agree and start to formulate plans but I’m still stuck…
“It’s a WATER PARK?”
“Like an amusement park… but with water?” NO. It can’t be.
Sonia looks confused over my tone, “Yes.”
I was crushed. I must have gazed out over Mumbai towards this glorious golden monument every night for 2 months, wondering what must go on there — did worshippers walk there overnight, in barefeet, as they do to the Siddhivinayak Temple in Bandra? Do they leave offerings, ring bells? Or perhaps it’s a Buddhist temple? And, most importantly, are there temple monkeys? I had really wanted to go out there but couldn’t figure out where it was on the ridiculous hundred page book of maps of Mumbai that I had been given. So I didn’t go and it sat there calling to me every night… and it turned out to be a freakin’ water park???