Mumbai, call it a city of dreams, a city that never sleeps or the maximum city. There are tons of reason why people come here and fall in love. It is wonderful to see how people of Mumbai cherish the simple joys of life starting from enjoying the first rain, walking by the beach holding hands even in their 60’s, sharing love in abundance, struggling, surviving and still smiling away, the torrential rains, chaotic crowd, heavy traffic, severe pollution, deadly attacks, and huge poverty will seem like the city might just come to an end but it is surprising to see how the city rebuilds itself every single time, the never-say-die attitude in every Mumbaikar is worth looking upto.
Mumbai fascinates millions of people from all over the world. Though I was never really fond of this city until the first visit that left me hypnotized.
It was a few years back that I had been to Ahmedabad to visit an old friend from school. While returning back to Bangalore, I had a layover which left me with a couple of hours to spare in Mumbai. I started my day in Ahmadabad watching the glorious sunrise over Sabarmati riverfront followed by taking a flight to Mumbai. I spent about half a day in the city travelling to Bandstand to meet another friend, clicking pictures in front of the splendid Mannat which was mandate just for the love of Shahrukh Khan, hogging the lip-smacking street food, sitting by the rocks talking endlessly and watching the gorgeous sunset made my day quite a memorable one. While taking a flight back to Bangalore that night, my mind was filled with the greed to see more of Mumbai. Only a few hours was enough to ignite a fire within me to come back to this city that is known to celebrate life!
My next visit to Mumbai was sooner than I thought and it was quite dramatic. The days spent here seemed like a perfect setup for me to experience the most famed things in the city. I enjoyed and cherished every bit of my time spent in this city. Of which, I have listed quite a few experiences which I am sure anyone who visits Mumbai for the first time can relate!
Marine Drive and the Rain
Rains are crazy and unpredictable in Mumbai. It is quite interesting to see how people have embraced rain year after year without allowing it to affect their daily lives. I hate to relieve myself out in the rain. I could blame the low-pressure belt that I belong to where rains have not been a blessing but a curse! Rather than joy & happiness, it has always been dark & depressing. Nevertheless, since the time I have moved to Bangalore, I have started to embrace the little joys of rain which helped me relish the most beautiful moments in Mumbai even on a rainy day.
While walking the beautiful pavement of Marine drive, I was buzzed with the beats of “Ik Tara” from the movie Wake up Sid. I sat there watching the waves crash on the rocks washing away all the negative thoughts and it seemed like it took away all my sorrows. The sound of the waves was soothing, it was the best dose of music to my ears. As I was gazing at the tall buildings on the other side of the sea, it was soon covered with dense moving clouds and it poured rain heavily. There was no shade around and I stood there completely drenched. I let myself go acting like a child and just living the moment. Marine drive on a rainy day turned out to be magical for me, a memorable affair. An experience worth living!
Yes, you guessed it right! I am talking about the local trains. It was time for me to board one of the trains. Initially, I was taken aback looking at the crowd. The view was definitely not pleasing. It was jam-packed with people. There was dirt, stained walls, dust, sweat around but this is how the locals run. There are about 7 million people traveling every day via local train which is the fastest and the most economical means of transport in Mumbai. It calls for special skills and persistence for a newbie to get in and out of the local train. You get pushed in and out of the train without any effort (Pun intended). One needs to be extremely careful while traveling in locals but it is worth a try if you want to experience the real Bombay.
I was traveling along with two other friends in the noon, surprisingly we got a place to sit which is quite rare of what I had noticed. I spotted the famous “Dabbawalas” while on the train. It was easy for me to identify them who were dressed in white with traditional Gandhi caps. I got reminded of the book that I had read on Dabbawalas, Mumbai’s Dabbawala written by Shobha Bondre. How beautifully she had described the story of Dabbawalas of Mumbai who delivers about 200,000 hot home cooked meals each day from home to office within a couple of hours. Their timely precision, exceptionally low rates, remarkable coordination, hard work, honesty, and efficiency stands as an incredible example of running a successful business. Simplicity personified. A must read!
Gateway of India
The next on my itinerary was The Gateway of India. We took a train to Churchgate as that was closest to Gateway. While strolling down the streets, I came across these iconic and vintage double-decker buses in red. It was my first encounter with a double-decker bus which clearly explains my excitement. We did take a ride later that evening to the top section of the bus and I absolutely loved it.
I am very fond of architectural monuments and that brings me to the renowned Gateway of India built in Indo-Saracenic style, situated on the waterfront at Apollo Bunder, Colaba in South Mumbai. This monument stands high ever since the British Raj in India. It was built to honor the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary. Later the last British squad left India through this gateway. Mumbai is known for celebrating almost all festivals with equal enthusiasm. When I was at Gateway of India, I got reminded of the famous “Elephanta festival of music and dance” that I have been wanting to watch since long. I had a wonderful time at the gateway with my childhood friends. We tried clicking decent pictures of us but failed due to the breeze that was overpowering. The view of the fabulous Taj Mahal Hotel opposite to the Gateway of India was incredible.
Given an opportunity next time, I would love to click Gateway at night, I have heard the place looks stunning!
“There is no sincerer love than the love of food”. – George Bernard Shaw
Mumbai is famous for its incredible street food. Be it chaat, pani-puri, vada pav, misal pav, bhel puri, gola or kulfi, the options are endless. Name it and you will have it at every nook & corner of the city. Mumbai’s Pani-puri is my all-time favorite. Puri stuffed with ragda (peas curry), boiled potatoes and sprouts dipped in sweet/spicy tamarind water with chilies and chaat masala is an explosion of flavors. I did try chaat and vada pav which was equally delectable.
The street shops in Mumbai are equally addictive but I barely had time to shop. Also, I wanted to line few things for my next visit and street shopping definitely tops the list. We took a train back home and on the way, we visited Inorbit mall in Vashi to dine in this exquisite rooftop restaurant named British Brewing Company. The ambiance was alluring with spacious outside seating and decent food. After a satisfying dinner, we headed back home.
Though the traffic, honking, crowd, and abundant paradoxes take away a bit of shine from the city, you can still discover little joys at every turn. I am sure I have missed out on a lot. There is so much more to Mumbai yet to be discovered. I am only grateful for I was able to experience one small part of it.
Do share the stories of your first time in Mumbai!