If one is interested in aviation and world travel, Patrick Smith’s blog, Ask the Pilot, at Salon.com is a must. Patrick is a professional pilot—currently for cargo—, travels the world, and blogs about it. About planes and the world. His blog is great. I’ve been following it for years. His latest post is from Bombay, a.k.a. Mumbai, and some of his observations and experiences are precisely those I had on my last visit to that impossible hellhole of a city over twenty years ago, notably on the several hundred square mile sewage dump in the Arabian Sea one overflies on the landing approach to the airport—a sight that has to be seen to be believed—and the city’s nightmarish traffic. He apparently didn’t take the suburban train from Victoria station to the city’s northern districts, where one passes through the most appalling shantytowns one will see anywhere on this planet. I went into the heart of the poorest quarters of Mexico City and Cairo in the mid 1980s, which were positively high class compared to those in Bombay. My father lived in Bombay during his high school and undergraduate university years. His memories of the city were fond. Likewise for Salman Rushdie. Bombay must have been a fine, even exhilarating, city back then. Le bon vieux temps.
UPDATE: Patrick Smith’s blog has moved from Salon to its own site, here. (December 2)