We have been having a lot of trouble buying train tickets in India as they all seem to sell out weeks in advance and as we never know where we are going or how long we are staying in a place we have been too late when we go to purchase. With 18 million people catching trains every day it’s no wonder they sell out so quick! However we discovered a lot of the big stations, with Mumbai being one of them, have a foreign tourist ticket counter where they allocate tourist tickets on certain trips. So the morning was spent lining up and getting our tickets out of Mumbai! We even managed an AC carriage.
After this we headed to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum (take a breath) that was housed in a beautiful old building which was a mix between Hindu, Islamic and English architecture. The exhibits were really engaging and before we knew it we had spent a good two hours there. It was really informative on Hinduism and Buddhism and gave us great descriptions of the different Hindu Gods and their incarnations.
After the museum with our heads a little foggy due to all the information we decided to go check out the shopping complex just across the road. I am loving shopping in India as I love bright and colourful clothing and Indian women’s fashion is full of colour and terrific patterns. The prices are also pretty fantastic as well. I am actually throwing out clothes to fit my new purchases in my bag.
After that we headed home via some pretty amazing streets. We have been really impressed with the colonial buildings in Mumbai. They are ridiculously beautiful and have been looked after amazingly well. It’s actually quite hard to get pictures of a lot of them as the city encroaches on all sides but that kind of adds to the charm.
Walking the streets of Mumbai is an experience as the footpaths seem to be for beggars and hawkers so the streets end up filled with pedestrians as well as cars. We must be getting used to India as we found ourselves threading through oncoming traffic walking down one of the streets without even bating an eyelid.
Just before sunset we caught an Uber out to Marine Drive which is a wonderful promenade with Art Deco buildings in various states of disrepair lining one side of the street. The other side was given over to a wide footpath and raised sea wall which arcs along the shore of the Arabian Sea. It’s lined with locals sitting and chatting and enjoying the coolish breeze and sunset over the sea. We started in the south and walked the whole length of the promenade enjoying people watching. We had read that the north end was renowned for its street food. What we didn’t realize was it was literally at the northern tip and there were not any stalls at all along the promenade, which we thought was strange but we figured it must be heavily policed and regulated as there were not any beggars or hawkers either. It became clear why they didn’t allow stalls all along the promenade when we reached the northern tip called Girguam Chowpatty which is actually the beach as there was a designated street food selling market set up. By this stage after walking the 5kms we were both starving and headed into the market area only to be accosted by men yelling at us to come and eat at their stall. Each stall had their designated seating area so after walking around we picked the one with the most customers and sat down to a delicious meal of bhel puri and dahi sev puri which was like a savory profiterole stuffed with some sort of vegetable mix and spices, topped with onion and yoghurt. Still not fully sated we headed to another stall and sat down and had some pav bhaji which is like a tomato based pasta sauce with raw red onion and a white bun that has been smothered with butter. It doesn’t sound that appetizing but was surprisingly good and apparently a Mumbai favorite.
There were also ice cream stalls selling all kinds of amazing creations. I went for a Choc Chip Kulfi Falooda which according to the picture looked like a Choc chip milkshake. I was very surprised on first sip to realize there were vermicelli noodles in there. But the taste was amazing so will be looking out for more of those in our travels.
We decided to walk off a little of our food before catching a taxi home so started walking back along the promenade. We had walked passed a massive gold Indian style building that had lights and music blasting from it on the way to the street vendors but both of us were too hungry to cross the road and go check it out. So with our bellies full we decided to see what was going on. We found out it was a wedding reception. The place was amazing with gold and flowers everywhere and bouncers and people in costumes standing at the entrance. What was really amazing was we discovered that the structure is removable. It is actually a sports ground so the facade was brought in just for the wedding. It must have cost them a fortune! I would have loved to have snuck in and had a look at what was going on inside. Just to really show the disparity of wealth there was a young mother with her three children begging on the street just outside the venue.
I was a little nervous coming to Mumbai as you hear stories about how crazy the big Indian cities are but we have found it to be quite civilized. It’s just like any really large city with a few little Indian idiosyncrasies thrown in the mix. It has helped that we are staying in Colaba which is considered the tourist part of Mumbai as all the fantastic architecture is down here and I am sure if we ventured near the slums we would get a dose of real living in Mumbai as apparently 60% of the people of Mumbai live in a slum. With a population of 22million people that is a lot of people living in slums. But so far for us Mumbai has really been a great experience and we haven’t felt overwhelmed at all. There is certainly never a dull moment walking the streets. I have mentioned it before but if someone said describe India in one word I think it would be ‘alive’. S
The post office.
The side of the central train station. Take note of the people and cars sharing the road.
The front of the train station. Such a beautiful building.
The ceiling inside the train station.
A group of boys along Marine Drive enjoying the view.
Apparently Marine Drive has the nickname of Queen’s Necklace due to the line of sparkling lights.
Tim receiving our first round of street food.
Our man cooking up our Bhelpuri. The buns are dropped in that massive amount of butter and heated up.