Monday, June 18, 2012

5 reasons why you should visit Bombay (besides me)

So what follows in the next few paragraphs read pretty much like my resume. Be warned.

I was born and brought up in Kerala (refer map below). My mother was studying to be a doctor and my father was working in Kuwait Airways and was based in Kuwait. I was therefore raised by my maternal grandparents.

Here's a picture you may have seen before.



Four years after I was born, my brother came into our lives. He was the naughtiest thing you ever saw. Yikes!!! I don't know how much I've had to beat him up to ensure that he grew up into a distinguished gentleman.

By the end of school, I was dying to get out. The bold, bright world was beckoning me, and I was all set to see it all. I went to Madras to do my Bachelors in Psychology. After that, I assisted a fashion photographer for a couple of months and then did my Masters in Mass Communication in Pune (where I met Thom).

After that got over, I immediately started working at my first job as a production executive for a film in Mumbai. This was four years ago, but the film has not been released yet. I did that for two months and then quit the job when I reached the verge of killing myself. (Worst. Job. Ever.)

Then I got a job with one of the biggest qualitative market research agencies in India and I did that for over a year. By then, Thom and I had decided to get married. I wanted to travel for a bit before I got married so I quit my job and did that. I went to a whole lot of places and lived in a whole lot of places and overall had a whale of a time. Then I went to Kerala and lived at home for a while. Then I started this blog, got married, and moved back to Bombay.

After that, I got a job with and editing company and now I am an academic editor. It's a fun job; sometimes its a funny job.


Anyways. I am making my point here in a very long winded way. I have lived in quite a few places, never feeling like it's my home and always with one foot out. I have this crazy, insane, consuming desire to to travel and everywhere I go, I almost stop myself from completely setting shop there. Places never, ever feel like home. But the good thing is that the traveller in me brings with it this crazy need to explore and find every nook, cranny, and secret sweet spot in the city. This is true of every place I have lived in and most places I have  visited.

All this while, I never did a guide to Mumbai or anything like that because I was waiting to do one on Paris or Brussels. (Don't judge me. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes!) But I don't think that that's gonna happen any time soon and I'm gracefully going to accept that Bombay's my home, at least for now.

There. That wasn't so bad. I am only hyperventilating a little.

Now Bombay... Here's what Lonely Planet India has to say about Bomnbay...

"Measure out: one part Hollywood; six parts traffic; a bunch of rich power-moguls; stir in half a dozen colonial relics (use big ones); pour in six heaped cups of poverty; add a smattering of swish bars and restaurants (don’t skimp on quality here for best results); equal parts of mayhem and order; as many ancient bazaars as you have lying around; a handful of Hinduism; a dash of Islam; fold in your mixture with equal parts India; throw it all in a blender on high (adding generous helpings of pollution to taste) and presto: Mumbai.An inebriating mix of all the above and more, this mass of humanity is a frantic melange of India’s extremes."

And what an inebriating mix it is! Here's a list of 5 awesome things you have to do in Bombay. These are the things that I love doing, with Thom and by myself.

1. Can we start with food? :)

First, you need to eat the traditional Konkan/Malvani cuisine, which is predominantly non-vegetarian with a lot of emphasis on sea food. The curries are typically coconut based, fiery, and bursting with flavor. Things to eat in no particular order: Bombil Fry (fish fry), Sol Kadhi (a digestive drink), Bhakri (unleavened bread), Mutton Sukha (Dry Mutton), Rice. Actually, you can eat anything Malvani and it will be lip smacking good.



2. The remnants of a distant past

Walk around on the cobblestone pathways in Fort gazing at tall, ornate colonial buildings, stopping every once in a while to shoot a gorgeous picture. As with any place that's remained unchanged down the ages, the buildings in Fort, created painstakingly by the British, are a beautiful sight to behold. Start off from Victoria Terminus and walk south. On the way, make sure you stop at Jehangir Art Gallery, National Gallery of Modern art, and Colaba Causeway where you can shop to your hearts content. If I come to Bombay for a day twenty years later after a break of fifteen years, this is what I will be doing.


3. Bazaars!

The Bazaars in India are big, bold, bright, and beautiful and those in Bombay are no different. Mutton Street, though weirdly named, has the stunning antique furniture and in Crawford Market, you really get anything under the sun. It's the best place in Bombay to get lost in, as long as you have a handle on where you are. Get me?



4. Juhu Beach/Chowpatty Beach

It may be dirty, crowded, and non descript, but the spirit of India lives in the beaches of Bombay; it's where the people of Bombay go when they are broke but want to have fun. {It's where Thom and I rang in the new year!} It is a maddening melange of people, dogs, food vendors, and balloon sellers and every time I go there, I love it even more. Have the Golas (Snow Cones) and the Pav Bhaji (Bread and Curry) from any of the stalls and you will make your soul happy. (Juhu Beach is in North Bombay and Chowpatty is in South Bombay.There is no other difference, really.)

5. Go Local

You gotta get into a local train. You just got to! It's the same reason why you would go bungee jumping in New Zealand or paragliding in Africa; it's the most adventurous thing you can do in Bombay. If you're really brave and you wanna prove your mettle, you travel during rush hours in the direction of the traffic.

Raghu Rai's Churchgate Station. 
 

I'm telling you. The thrill that you feel after you complete a gruelling journey... there's nothing quite like it. This thrill, however, happens only after your first journey. The second journey on, it is just plain cruel. 

Ok. That's it. Please come to Bombay and meet me! I'll take you around and buy you a Vada Pav. :)

11 comments:

  1. India is on my list. So is Kerala!! I'm hoping I can make it there this Fall. Fingers crossed.

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    1. Really? Kerala's on your list? I'll totally help you plan!!!

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  2. Lovely article! :) All of the above combined with Monsoon is my idea of perfect bliss. Just a teeny tiny bit of error: Juhu is in North Bombay and Chowpatty is in the South. TC.

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    1. Lord! I am such an idiot! :) My brain's all muddled up.:) The SOuth Bombayites would be outraged on hearing this. :) Thanks a ton Shaz! :) Ten points for you!

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  3. That's it. Now I want to hop on a plane from Brussels to Bombay and come visit. Unfortunately all my money will be going to drama school now. Ah well, decisions eh.
    By the way: I'll be in Belgium until January and you're more than welcome dear...

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    1. Thankyou!!! :) I would love to come to Belgium! And I so wish I could!

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  4. u have painted such a pretty picture abt Bombay... So unlike the mal films of the early 90s where Bombay was a place full of underworld goons... some folks in my family still believe that....

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    1. SO true! but Bombay is so safe, especially for women. Except for the occasional bomb blasts.

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  5. I don't know about all the rest but I would come to Bombay to meet you. That would be an adventure! xo

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