Bombay is probably the most expensive city in India. It is where the richest people from the movie making and IT industries live. Their palaces conceal treasures and luxury beyond imagination. Renting a simple room in your usual neighborhood 50-60 minutes away from the center is 600 euros. So I choose Salvation Army Hostel because is the cheapest and it has the Lonely Planet recommendation. Huge mistake! The official story is that the hostel is highly institutionalized and the rules are strict, because Salvation Army is a religious organization. The unofficial reality is that one can drink, smoke and use drugs in here basically everywhere. The dirt in here is hard to describe, one wouldn’t know where to start from. The most useful items I own are the antibacterial gel and the sleeping bag!
In the bedroom, two-leveled beds. In the bed “downstairs” is where Joseph lives. I say “lives” because he’s still got 19 more days of waiting for the results of college admission exams. A trip back home would cost him too much. Joseph is 19 and he comes from the far East of the country, in Mizoram, farther away from Bangladesh. Everything is different back there. He doesn’t speak Hindi and I initially thought he’s Japanese. He abides by everything happening around him with great stoicism and although he lives in this polluted environment he never used any drugs or alcohol. He spends most of his days reading. He asks many questions and he’s a fast learner.
I meet many interesting travelers, with interesting stories and great ideas. There are people that in the mornings practice yoga in the hallways and also citizens of respectable countries (Sweden, Switzerland, England) that have hashish running down their veins. It’s a long time their visas expired, some of them even sold their passports. All they live for is the next cigarette. Some kind Indians picked them from the streets, brought them to the hostel and send them food every day. They smoke in bed, lying on their backs. They beg, lie, fight for every cigarette and have cut-off crises that leave them shaking for half an hour. They wake up in the middle of the night and light very concentrated joints. I get sick and spend my second night throwing up. I get high fever and miss one of the meetings in the Bombay International School. If I stay here I probably won’t get any better. Barely walking, I leave the “Salvation” hostel.