Good Times In Mumbai With Earl’s Family

It was so wonderful to begin our exploration of India by spending the first few weeks with Earl’s family. With both of Earl’s parents growing up in Mumbai, there were quite a few family members to meet.

First of all, with so many people in the country, it was nice to see someone you knew cared about you and would give you tips on navigating (and enjoying) the country. It was so helpful to have tips on food, rickshaw rates, and even someone to barter down the fruit vendors to a reasonable price!

Earl’s family was so hospitable: we had our own apartment to stay in, meals prepared for us, and people to share them with. Let me introduce you:

Auntie Mary, Earl’s dad’s eldest sister, lived in a flat was just across the hall from the one we stayed in, which used to be owned by Mary’s twin Martha and was inherited by sister, Margaret, after Martha passed. She was always available for a game of Rummy (as long as she wasn’t doing her crossword puzzle!)



Stephen, Earl’s eldest 1st cousin, godfather and Auntie Mary’s son, lives with her and handles most of the household details. When we were there, he was just healing from a fall that broke his wrist. That didn’t stop us from getting out and having a little fun though, at a field hockey game. (Did you know that field hockey is India’s national sport?)



Auntie Margaret, lives just across the street from Auntie Mary and Stephen, and we spent a good portion of our time with her. She let us teach her how to play Fruit Ninja on the iPad, made sure we had enough to eat, told us all kinds of family stories, and arranged a driving tour of Mumbai with her friend Nitin, among many other things.



Auntie Margaret and Stanley, another of Earl’s first cousins, took us up to Matheran, a hill station just a few hours from Mumbai. We took a “matchbox” or “toy” train to get there, which was really fun.


We also went to Stanley’s house and met his two children, Charlstan and Brendan. Stanley is an excellent cook, and made us some great chicken and prawns for dinner, and then let me make Dutch pancakes the next morning.


The day after we hung out with Stanley’s family, we met up with his sister, Dotty, her husband Franklin, and their daughter Florelle, who kept us all entertained with magic tricks.



We also met Earl’s Auntie Elaine, his mom’s sister, and her husband, Uncle Walter, who took us to the Bandra Gymkhana, kind of like a social/country club, and treated us to a lovely dinner there. Another day, we had tea with Aunt Janet, though Uncle Lionel, Earl’s mom’s brother, wasn’t well and wasn’t able to be there.



We had such a wonderful time with Earl’s family in Mumbai, and it really was a pity that we didn’t have more time to spend there to get to know them better.

On our way out of Mumbai, Stanley joined us for a trip to Bhusaval, where he grew up, which is about 7 hours by train from Mumbai. We stayed there for 2 days and met his mother, Auntie Rose, his brother Aldrin and Aldrin’s wife, Maria, and their little son, Nathan. They were so hospitable. And while we were there, Stanley and Aldrin took us to see the local dam and arranged a car to go to the Ajanta Caves, a series of 30 caves carved between the second and sixth centuries AD. They are magnificent! You can read more about them and see some photos in a later blog post.



After Bhusaval, we headed off on our own, to explore some other regions of India, but we sure enjoyed being around family! I had a hard time keep Earl’s family organized in my head. His parents both have 5 siblings and there are a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins for me to remember. I had to write it down at one point. I think tht Earl is going to be in a shock when we get to Holland as my dad is one of 12 kids, and unlike Earl’s family, not everyone speaks English comfortably. We might need two blog posts to share about them!

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