Mumbai, India in a Day

Mumbai, India!! I have always wanted to go to India. Most of that has only to do with my name, and btw there are a lot of streets/shops named Chandra or some variation, but also because of the craziness of the culture and the delicious food. I think I’ve seen a fair amount of photos of India but really nothing would compare to seeing it all live.

Surrounded by Jewelry on Colaba Causeway

Dave’s friend Mariza would be spending the morning and early afternoon with us, which turned out to be a great thing and much appreciated. We had a little trouble finding her at first because our ship was docked in a commercial ship yard, not a cruise terminal. We left the ship, got asked for our paperwork by separate Indian officials about 4 times within 100 feet, and then had to find our way across canals, over pipes and around shipping containers to the exit. At one point we had to wait for a Korean cargo vessel to pass through a canal so that the bridge could go back down. It was an adventure. All of the exits are color coded in this area, and the gate we were looking for was never the one that we could find. Finally we made our way to the street and it was easier to just tell her where we were rather than vice versa. She met us in a taxi, gave us lovely wedding towels with our names on them, and we proceeded to our first stop, the Gateway of India. Along the way, she and the taxi driver would point our various things, a museum here, a government building there. Everything was crowded, run down, loud and smelly. I don’t really mean all of that in a negative way though – I’d take something like this over quiet and restrained (Oman). The Gateway to India is a large arch that the British built and now is a symbol of Mumbai. Until a few days ago, I’d never heard of it so I’m not sure how famous it really is, but we had to see it anyways. It was very large and simply covered with tourists and people trying to sell absolutely anything and everything to those tourists.

We took some photos and then Mariza wanted to go to the Taj hotel for breakfast. The Taj is THE hotel in Mumbai, meaning it is where all of the important visitors would stay while in the city – presidents, etc. It was also the icon of the 2008 terrorist attacks on the city and where many were killed. There is a monument to them in the lobby – a waterfall with their names inscribed on the wall. All very eerie and the reason for India’s heightened, although mostly redundant and nonsensical, security today.

Taj Hotel, Mumbai, India

Mariza guided us to a very Indian breakfast at the Taj, which was great and I wish was the standard for our breakfast as well. We got a large dosa to share, which we dipped in a delicious warm curry sauce, and also these doughnut type things which had a bit of spice that were also dipped in the curry. Everything was nice and hot and delicious and had non of that egg nonsense going on. Mariza also called Kingfisher and managed to fix our flights for our trip to Agra tomorrow. A few days ago we had received an email that our flight times had changed and now our connecting flight, Delhi to Agra, would be leaving before our initial flight from Mumbai to Delhi. The email indicated no problem with this and said we were confirmed for both flights. I think this was our first introduction to how much of Indian logistics are run. There’s a lot of procedure and no real thinking.

All modesty out the window at an Indian sari shop

After breakfast, we walked over to Colaba Causeway, which is a market “souk”. I thought it was going to be an area just set aside for stalls and for shopping, but actually it is a sidewalk with stalls and thousands of people pushing through. It makes it hard to stop and “window shop” because the second you stop, you’re getting pushed from behind. There are also stores that you can step into that sell more of the better (?) items. I really wanted to buy a sari so we stepped into one place and started trying them on. It was definitely an experience with Mariza negotiating for me and the 2 salesmen tossing out 10-20 purple/pink saris at me and offering all sorts of colors and fabrics and patterns. I tried a few on, and finally decided on one. They would make me the little shirt, custom to my size, so they took about 15 measurements for that. I paid Rs 4000 for everything, which is about $85. I think its a pretty good deal as I’m planning on wearing it to a few special indian occasions in the future. From there we continued down the Causeway and bought matching bracelets, this bindi-type thing, and Dave got a spyglass for some reason. We also saw the EXACT same chests that we were eyeing in Oman. These were in much better condition and were a bit cheaper as well. We promised the shop keeper that we’d be back later to pay and pick it up.

Indian Tapas = Thalis!

After shopping Mariza brought us to this local restaurant that had fantastic food, Soul Fry Casa – not Mexican. We sat on the 2nd floor and ordered some appetizers and 2 thalis, which are similar to tapas. One thali was mild, for Mariza, and 1 was spicy for Dave and me. Everything was amazing – we had chicken with spicy red sauce, clams in a coconut brown sauce, prawns, garlic naan and some sort of local fish. Indian food is very similar to Indian food in the US, which was a huge relief. The food even comes in the exact same copper pots as in American restaurants. Even though we had the spicy thali, it really wasn’t very hot at all, although the spices were very flavorful. For dessert we tried some frozen milk dish that was green and very tasty. Mariza picked up the check, which was very nice. From there we all got in a cab and tried to thing of what Dave and I would do until my sari was ready at 5pm. We decided on foot massages so she made appointments for Dave and me and then quickly got out of the cab to head off in the other direction. She had also given us ideas for drinks and dinner, too. Just great!

Foot massages were very nice and very cheap and killed the time nicely. We jumped in a taxi to return to Colaba Causeway. Taxis are insanely cheap here. The taxi to our foot massages was Rs 30 (< $1). Actually the driver didn’t even have change for our Rs 500 note. Imagine a taxi driver not even having change for a $10 bill because nothing costs nearly that much. Insane. The sari fit perfectly btw and we did return to buy that treasure chest. Now we just need to find a place to put it in our new place!!

The taxi and walk back to the ship was once again very interesting, this time with saris and treasure chest in tow, and we were very eager to get back and shower. Damn, Mumbai is hot! We put on nice clothes and headed out once again, this time taking a taxi from an area near our ship directly to the Dome on the top floor of the Intercontinental Hotel. Once again, tight security to get into the hotel including pat downs and metal detectors. Everything was beautiful, although we couldn’t really see much of the city because they put up non-translucent walls (dumb). We sat on a white linen couch and enjoyed a few beers while enjoying the breeze and the relative quietness. It was here that I think we decided that we could totally live in India and be just fine. Don’t worry though, we aren’t going to 🙂

I could eat my weight in naan. Try me.

From upscale drinks, we once again hopped in a cab and backtracked a bit to Khyber, an Indian restaurant that Mariza had recommended. Khyber was beautiful and huge inside with very modern decorations and amazing smells as we were led to our table. We enjoyed a potato and pea samosa appetizer (there were about 12 mini samosas) and chicken tikka masala and goan shrimp for an entree with garlic naan on the side. Everything was absolutely fantastic, although again nothing was incredibly spicy. We were both very full from the food and had absolutely no room for dessert, so we decided to head back to the ship. We found a taxi that was probably ripping us off, meaning it was about $8, but we finally managed to find the infamous Green Gate. Our ship was about a 5-10 minute walk from this gate and the walk did not include bypassing any cargo ships or other obstacles. I’m not really sure why no one had managed to point us in the right direction until now, when we only found it by a lack of communication between us and our taxi driver. We made it back to the ship after the usual myriad of paper checks, packed and headed to bed. Taj Mahal tomorrow – I can’t think of a better site to see on a honeymoon!!

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One Response to “Mumbai, India in a Day”

  1. Raj Dhanawat
    October 2, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Very Nice page and Lovely photos.