It’s been a long day.
It’s coming on midnight here in muggy post monsoon Mumbai, still known as Bombay by the locals.
My day started at Paddington in Sydney – such a long time now it seems – killing time until a 9:40pm flight, then a five hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, then a steamy arrival into Bombay about midday some twelve hours ago.
During that 12 hours I took a 1hr cab ride down to my hotel, situated in the fancy Malabar Hill region of sprawling Bombay. It’s an area I’m familiar with, and on this trip it’s handy, because the filming I need to do is close by. The film industry – both Bollywood and Hollywood – usually stays about 2hrs up the road at a hotel called the JW Marriott – the “JW” for short.
The JW achieved recent infamy for being one the hotels the terrorists strafed. Ever since security has been up the wazoo. But security in Bombay lately has been very stringent. There’s now the constant threat of another terrorist attack hanging like a bad smell over this place.
So Jennifer and I checked into our hotel, I made some phone calls to line up interviews and sequences for the filming in the next few days – then we went for a walk to clear the jet-lagged cobwebs.
The walk was glorious – it turned into 10kms around the back alleys and busy thoroughfares of southern Bombay. It rained on and off but not heavy – just enough to have the trees dripping with moisture.
By the end of the walk we were starting to faulter – the long flight was starting to kick in – but then we’d barely returned to the room and I got a message from an Indian billionaire friend that he wanted to go see a movie with me.
The Indian billionaire is just that – a billionaire who lives in India. He is a one third owner of a group of companies that hold or control most of the prime real-estate in downtown Bombay – which surprisingly is one of the most expensive cities on the planet. More expensive that Paris or Tokyo.
I pressed him on his current company assets – and he wasn’t sure but thought it was somewhere around 25-30 billion. And that’s not rupees, that’s US$ thank you very much.
So Jennifer and I went and saw a movie with this fellow – accompanied by his wife. It was a bizarre evening on several fronts. For a start, we had to go through four full body searches before entering the cinema. And during the film we were served a meal called “Mexican Potato” – basically a roasted potato with some salsa and cream and other spicy stuff covering it.
I didn’t want the potato – quite frankly it looked disgusting – but my billionaire mate had bought it for me and he was sitting beside me watching me take every mouthful.
The thing I’ve noticed about billionaires – and I’ve had dealings with a few – is they watch every penny. They are incredibly careful about money. He had paid for the potato and he wanted to make sure I damn well ate it.
The film was an a-typical Bollywood film – no breakout singing and dancing numbers – no wind machines blowing back the hair of the buffed star-crossed lovers. This was a boxing film more in the vein of MILLION DOLLAR BABY – tough and gritty. A good movie, even though it was in Hindi without subtitles.
We then went back to the billionaire’s apartment – which had water views from three sides. Difficult to get in Bombay. All marble floors and a staff of eight, including a live-in full time chef and three drivers. An apartment in this part of Bombay is more expensive than on the Champs Elysee.
The chef cooked beautiful Chinese vegetarian while I admired some huge paintings on the walls – depictions of scenes from the ancient scriptures and the Bhagavad Gita.
My billionaire friend is helping me line up some heavy hitters in the field of intuitive study and research. He’s a renown astrologer himself, and has made his key business decisions based on astrology and intuition.
Tomorrow I’m visiting the Yoga Institute – the oldest yoga organisation in the world – and meeting up with my billionaire mate again for some more talking about cosmic rays and astral bodies. This bloke is a lawyer by the way. But he lives and breathes other worldly ideals.