Just Emkaying: Mumbai, Marine Drive and Vada Pav

Aug 29, 2011

Mumbai, Marine Drive and Vada Pav

My close friends know that I have Mumbai-phobia. For a very old reason, the place terrifies me, in fact the possibility of having to travel by " the local trains" will ensure I don't board the flight in Bangalore, or even catch the meru cab to the airport. None the less, Mumbai is very different, very welcoming, and has a culture that is very different from most cities in India, and this is visible from the moment the plane touches down on the runway. (example follows later)

So I got this opportunity to attend a workshop that was important and last-minute enough to have me land in Mumbai on 25th Aug. Unlike other trips, this had nothing to do with asking people why they drink liquor, or why a shop sold liquor, where's my liquor,etc
Anyways let me highlight my achievements in 3 days

- Crawled Walked to Gateway of India from Cuff Parade
- Saw the historic Taj Hotel
- Ate Vada Pav \m/
- Walked all the way back from Gateway to Fort
- Saw the Flora Fountain
- Saw Marine Drive and traveled over the Worli-Bandra Sea link
- Met an old chum of mine from college, seeing him after 6 years!!!
- The Grand Victoria Terminus Building which is always present in Bollywood movies to when the hero comes to Mumbai for the first time
- Being asked if we need any "other service" by the taxi wala
- Mukesh Ambani's "Antilla" - It is HUGE!!!
- Lata Mageshkar ji's home

If you missed a beat reading the word walked, well its true. Some wise ass taxi wala told us that the Gateway of India was very near to our venue at Cuff Parade, so we ended up walking 1.5 km just to reach there in the drizzle. Then some nice uncle told us it was 20 minutes back to Fort (where we were staying) so we walked back another 3 km. So I WALKED 4.5 km, which I think even Bangalore has not been lucky enough to see me do!!!

The Route Map!!!

It was amazing to see the sea near the Gateway after such a long time, lashing out on the rocks and yet bringing such a calm feeling. The sky line was bloody amazing, tall buildings against a brown sea, rain pouring down. To be honest the gateway looked like it needed a lot of maintenance, but it was quite huge. The Taj too was quite grand, but it didn't really make me feel that I was witnessing a major landmark of Mumbai.

Rain played spoilsport, and most of my snaps were hazy and we had to scoot fast as the down pour was increasing. It was also difficult getting a taxi so we had to walk quite a distance, before we decided to walk all the way.  But this gave me an opportunity to take a look at the city from close quarters, or as much as I could while moving my heavy self around and avoiding the rain from above and the "keechad" below.

We crossed another landmark in the Flora Fountain, (on the Hutama Chowk) There is also another sculpture set up near by in honour of the Martyrs who laid down their lives in the creation of the state of Maharashtra. My Photo taken at night was completely blurred, so here's a one that I got from wikipedia. Flora is actually the name of Roman Goddess.

Of course, whats a Mumbai trip without Vada Pav heh? So in true Mumbaikar fashion, I stuffed two down my throat with the chilli and all, and man!!! it was amazing-o!!!

What struck me was the help you get from people around you. They tell you directions, walk with you for someway, point out landmarks and all that.The moment we were alighting from our plane, passengers actually helped each other get luggage out of the compartments. I have only seen indifference in Bangalore planes!!!

On the way back, we saw the Marine Drive (Beautiful!!!), with a lot of people braving the rains and walking on . Couples were sitting behind one umbrella facing the sea and koochie kooing!!! Checked out Mukesh's Antilla, and it is absolutely humongous!!! Really really big !!!

What also got me jumping in joy, (figuratively of course, lest I break the remaining bones in my body) were the double decker busses!!! I had never actually seen one, so it was like really cool!!! Pity we couldn't take a ride. I also so a lot of dogs, being taken for their walks in the rain, with rain coats on!!! Some were even carried along!!!

Mumbai is like the heart of the country. It has the mark of an alpha city, which is an indication of its importance in the Global Economic system, has the highest GDP in Asia, and is India's richest city. It has unfortunately also been a prime target for terror attacks, and though this has not dampened the spirit of the people, it has increased the amount of security of most locations.  The City is quite humid, and has a diverse culture that resonates in everyday life. Staying in Mumbai is really expensive though, and can be quite a pain if you have to travel from one end to the other.

I think the trip has given me reason to visit again!!!


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