On my way to D.C. I had a full afternoon layover in Mumbai (Bombay) and was very excited about it! I have not gotten to spend any time in this city so I was ready to maximize my time and explore! My plane landed early afternoon so I quickly made way to the metro station and took a train South, about 45 minutes to Colaba area and it only cost 7 rupees (12cents). The train, in true Indian fashion, was like nothing I've ever been on. I sat in the ladies carriage, there are no doors, just an open rectangle to jump in and out of. Women hawking goods hopped on and off at every station. It was a quick and interesting ride and soon I found myself at my destination!
I hopped in an extremely cheap cab and went to the Gateway of India, a commemorative arch on the ocean's edge. The architecture in Mumbai is very colonial and many of the buildings look like they were plucked straight out of Great Britain and plopped down in this city.
Next I excitedly headed to Colaba Market! I walked around for hours, meandering through street vendors, shops, antique stores and even grabbed an iced coffee! After wandering the market I took a cab to Marine Drive and walked the length of it... a longer walk than I anticipated. I wish I could have gotten a picture of it that did its beauty justice but my little point and shoot just can't handle cities at night so I am going to share this picture from Lonely Planet:
I think it was during that walk that I started to really realize just how different this city on the West coast of India is from any other place I have been in this country. There were men and women holding hands, cuddling, kissing and just generally performing PDA all up and down the drive. Nothing over the top or inappropriate but I can not adequately describe how strange it is to see that here. To put it in perspective, in Guwahati if a man and a women are sitting next to one another in the park by themselves (not even so much as holding hands) they will be asked by the police to separate. Yup, it's true. So anyways, between the les conservative dress, PDA, coffee shops and architecture I was feeling like I was in a whole other world... then Leopold's happened and my mind was further blown!
If anyone has ever read Shantaram (featured in my lovely friend Danielle's recent Literate and Stylish series) then you know of this bar/restaurant! I could not leave this city without stopping here for dinner! The food was great, the atmosphere exactly what I expected it to be and yes, there are still bullett holes in the wall... you will have to read the book to find out what those are all about ;) I was able to order a beef dish, chosen at the suggestion of one of my friends and it was mouth watering good. There are very few cities in India where you can buy beef at restaurants (sometimes if you know the right shop you can get it in the market) so I took advantage. Usually when I travel I don't eat meat at all but I couldn't resist. Fun fact: there are whole cities in India that are vegetarian meaning you can not buy meat and often even eggs in the market or at a restaurant! Mumbai would be the exact opposite of this.
Soon enough it was time to head back to the airport, I decided to avoid the train at night and opted for a taxi instead. the drive was extremely talkative (using way more Hindi than I could understand) and ended the drive with asking for my phone number, appropriate. All in all, it was a very productive lay over in the city! I can't wait to go back sometime with more ability to explore!