Bye-bye Bombay (Mumbai!)

March 29, 2016
I have to admit that the challenges of Delhi, made me dread our visit to Mumbai. I didn’t know if I could happily handle another big Indian metropolis.  Once again, Gavin had helped to ease our arrival, and had taken responsibility for choosing the best neighborhood to stay in and accommodation that fit our budget.  We flew in on New Year’s Eve and had a taxi transfer waiting for us up bring us to Colaba. Passing the slums and poorer neighborhoods in the dark did much to blot out a good share of the trash and shades of filth. All squalor was soon replaced with glittering high rises, super highways filled with traffic, and grand colonial architecture. We were staying in a happening waterfront section of Mumbai, full of historic Bombay buildings, and upscale restaurants. The streets were filling with New Year’s Eve revelers near the luxurious Taj hotel, and the celebrated Gateway of India. I’d love to say that we partied with the best of them, but our kids (and Stella in particular) had it with the noise, crowds, and usual chaos.

Once we began exploring the city in earnest, it didn’t take long for Mumbai to win me over, and deliver a knockout punch to nightmares of Delhi. It really is a scenic destination with its mix of British colonial details and both Modern and traditional Indian-style sensibilities. We ate amazingly well, in a variety of different cuisines from French to Thai to central Asian, and ogled fine home goods, accessories and clothing in posh stores like Fabindia. We also satiated our yen for movies by watching Star Wars in a multiplex (in English!).

Above all, what I enjoyed most was just walking ALL OVER, crossing through different neighborhoods and sucking up all the new and entertaining sights supplied by the locals themselves – street art, public parks full of men in white playing cricket, little stands of pan and a varied assortment of flavor accoutrements, beautiful Indian women in fashionable western dress or in golden, sparkling, and jeweled saris, beaches with strolling couples and vendors selling acid pink cotton candy, street hawkers using every square inch of the sidewalk to display their wares from sunglasses and bags to antiques and touristy Hindu tchotchkes, memorable food carts serving up Kati rolls, and the late drinking crowd that swarms them, even the homeless seeking shelter on the curbs, greeting us with smiles.  Here, we said our goodbyes to Gavin (but not for long!) and spent our solo day in art museums, and planning our return to Goa, where we planned to convalesce for 10 days before our final return to Mumbai and sad departure from India.

One last day in Mumbai, before leaving India for good, allowed us to sample craft beer, visit a new neighborhood, Bandra West, where we stopped by a Catholic Church and rambled along the boulder-lined beachfront for a sentimental sunset stroll.

Goodbye to rickshaws, head wobbles, dosas and curries, temples & forts, bindis & saris, Rajasthani mustaches, squat toilets, pungent odors, teeming markets and requisite bargaining, backshish, carved elephants, dirty feet, Bollywood music & dance, Jism 2(!), syrupy sweet meats, holy cows and Indian gods, Om shanti chanting, eating with our hands, mounds of rice, betel nut smears, bhang lassies, henna tattoos and orange-dyed hair, mudras, bottled water, Delhi belly, and “chai, chai, chai!”.  We miss it all already…

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  • Reply Gavin Roy March 29, 2016 at 2:59 am

    Jism 2!!!

  • Reply Julie j April 12, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Jism 2…?

    • Reply Sarah April 13, 2016 at 7:17 am

      Jism 2 is the name of an actual movie in India that Dan, Gavin and I saw billboards for…subsequent jokes followed.

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