The two sides to Mumbai
The less attractive side
As soon as we stepped out of the airport, there were constant honking and traffic was madness. That was not the worst part, crossing the road was a lot more gripping than any rollercoaster ride. Cars, rickshaws, trucks and motorcycles come from both sides and no one stops or slows down for you to cross. You just had to take the brave, first plummet into the chaotic traffic, and wiggle your way through as fast as possible, praying no one will run you over.
I think having a cow or two on the streets break up the honking chaos a little. At least the cows seem at peace.
There were cows everywhere even on the streets so lookout for them too. It’s not that I have not seen cows on the road. Believe me; I lived in a place where I had to wait for one or two cows to cross the street, once in a while. But this was of a new level. There were about nine cows grouped on a junction, just chilling out. Of course, this does not happen all the time. It was probably a cow family gathering in the New Year.
Also, it is common to see women carrying their child going from car to car, knocking on windows begging for money so keep the windows up at all times. If you look foreign and are on the rickshaw, good luck! There is high possibility one of them will hold on to you so tightly and never let go.
Another thing you should be aware of, you might see children taking a dump amongst a pile of garbage. This is not unusual near the slums. I am sharing this so it will be less of a shock when you come across it. Also in the area, there might be dead fishes on the streets and that funky whiff in the air is just a mix of everything surrounding you.
To view this from a different angle, it was an interesting experience. For some of us who sometimes complain about non-issues, it is time for us to reflect on how privileged we are to live in a developed country. We have a roof, warm clothes and clean water so stop complaining and get on with life.
The pretty side
Since we were staying in the suburbs, we did not spend much time in Mumbai’s main business district in the south, which is also where main tourist attractions lie. With the many events of our friend’s wedding, we did not have much time for sightseeing so when we had one whole day free, we hired a cab for the day to take us around. First, we cross the impressive Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL), a bridge built to ease the bottleneck traffic to get to the business district. Then, we were greeted with sophisticated and beautiful architecture, mostly erected during the British ruling. There were traffic lights for pedestrians too. It is much cleaner and has more green areas.
Outside the Mumbai Stock Exchange, we were not allowed to take pictures. Each time one of us lift a camera, the security guards would blow the whistle very loudly as a warning. If all of us lifted our cameras at a different beat and pace, we could definitely make some sort of music.
There is always great food just around the corner and definitely a heaven for any vegetarians. Street food is delicious, provided they are clean and does not make you ill.
Happy children getting ready to go to school
Another thing I like about India is that there is never short of Yoga classes. We were lucky enough to have found the oldest organised Yoga center in the World, named Yoga Institute which was founded in 1918. Drop in classes costs only Rs 100 an hour, slightly over £1. They even provide teacher training courses and health camps. This institute practices only classic yoga so if you are looking for Ashtanga Vinyasa, Iyenger or any other types of derived yoga, then you could probably go to The Yoga House instead. Funny story, we met a teacher from The Yoga House while in Goa that was how we first heard about this place. Otherwise, Google for yoga in Mumbai or ask around.
Restaurant reviews in Mumbai include:
- Shiv Sagar Vegetarian Restaurant
- Yoko Sizzlers
- Saffron Bay Terrace Bar
- Cafe Coffee Day
- Punjab Grill
- Copper Chimney
- Big Nasty