Of all my travel diaries till date, I think this one takes a special place in my heart. That evening when I came out of home (Hyderabad) in my pyjamas to have a cup of chai but instead ended up in Mumbai! If you have been reading my posts you must have known by now that most of my trips happen out of craziness. Be it the London visit for a concert – Read more about it here -> When London summoned!
Or the secret Rebak Island visit — Read more about it here -> A Secret affair at Rebak Island
Or the story behind my upcoming visit to Prague via London which btw is in a week from now, that is, if I get my visa on time 😦 . I must say this one is the craziest of all.
It was a boring long week in Hyderabad, cloudy, dark, dull with heavy rainfall throughout the day with nothing much to do. Though rains are beautiful, I feel it’s just for a day or two in a week. The first monsoon makes a dry, dusty, tired city so fresh and beautiful that it kinda looks like “just out of spa or salon”. But with continuous heavy pour, the same city shrivels up like human fingers and toes soaked in the bath for long. Less is more sometimes, isn’t it? This is more from an aesthetic point of view though.
Point being, longer the rains, boring it gets for me. The weekend arrived and after a heavy pour, I could finally see a ray of sunshine in the afternoon. I headed out with three other friends to have some chai-samosa and relish the weather in a typical Indian way. I didn’t want to waste any time getting ready and just rushed out in my pyjamas with my debit card and phone. The other three were in a similar state with just their phones and a couple of bucks in their pockets. On our way to the tea shop, I witnessed the first rainbow of the year. And I must say it’s been long since I saw this clear and marvelous rainbow given the pollution in the cities.
Did u ever observe how certain simple things in nature can have a strange impact on us, how a cloudy long week can dull our senses, attitude, the way we do things and how a ray of sunshine melts the fog literally and metaphorically. And how a rainbow, sometimes, can infuse vibrant energies into the minds. Something like that definitely happened with us at that moment. At once we decided we’ll go on a drive, we had our chai and took the ORR (outer ring road) for a drive. With amazing music playing and three good friends for a company, suddenly a boring weekend turned into a “sounds good” plan.
But then comes the crazy part, after two hours of onward drive, we realized we were on NH65, Pune – Sholapur road. We were about to take a U turn and head back when we saw the board that said Mumbai – 560kms (approx.) And here comes the mad idea! My friend felt like driving all night until we reach Mumbai and another friend of mine jumped at the idea and I got excited too. We kept driving forward continuing around the same conversation. The idea of it was crazy and we do discuss a hundred things that are crazy right? But who actually does it? We knew we’ll turn back at some point once the madness wears off. But then it didn’t! Thrusting through the Pune-Mumbai express highway, witnessing the first rays of the dawn, there we were, four of us in a BMW, in the city of dreams!
The city of dreams, hopes and wings as they call it. It lets everyone dream, gives hope to those dreams and provides wings to conquer those dreams, they say. Very few cities give that to people, very few cities have those kind of depths. Mumbai isn’t a first visit. We all had been here several times, either on work or on a family thing. Visiting Mumbai for an impromptu holiday was something that made it very exciting.
Btw did I mention that we had no wallets, no cash, no Id proofs, no proper clothes or essentials? We checked into a decent Oyo flagship hotel nearby, explained our mini adventure to the manager who approved online Id proofs. We had some breakfast and rested for a while. I waited for the nearest forum mall to open and shopped basics and decent clothes, thanks to the last minute decision of grabbing my debit card!
We only had till 8 am next morning to spend in Mumbai. And here is what we did.
24 hours in Mumbai!
If you have just 24 hours or essentially 12 – 16 effective hours, it’s better to stick to one area. And it was undoubtedly Colaba, South Bombay for us. After a decent sleep, with basics and clothes set. We hit the refresh button and headed towards Colaba through the amazing Bandra-Worli sea link.
- Dome, Intercontinental: – This is a fine dining & lounge at the roof top of Intercontinental hotel overlooking the marine drive. We were here mainly for the sunset and the magnificent sea view. We couldn’t see the sun as it was cloudy, but I do not have appropriate words to describe the view. Mumbai in monsoon is even more spectacular. True that!
- The Leopold café: – I was always in awe of this place by the way it was described in the book “Shantaram”. This is the oldest Irani café established in 1871, one of the first sites attacked during Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks. The café still retains some signs of 26/11 terror attack. We had this mouthwatering Tandoori Lobster here! You can fly or drive all over again just to have this luscious tandoori lobster (if you are sea food fan!) I know I will!
- Shopping at Colaba Causeway– We didn’t have enough time to visit the other famous street shopping places like the Linking road, Crawford market or the Fashion street but how can one just return empty handed without shopping at the Mumbai streets. I had to take at least a trinket here just for the sake of it. And it was easy as this shopping street, also known as Shahid Bhagat Singh Street, is just outside Leopold. And it is famous too.
- Gateway of India: – After some shopping and a good stroll around the street, we headed towards the Gateway of India. We spent some time here, looking at the ocean waves and rising tides hitting the shore higher than the former with every passing minute. There is some interesting history around here and seemingly this is the gate from where the last British troops finally left, post Independence. You ought to spend some time over here to absorb the historical salt!
- Harbour Bar @Taj Mahal Palace: – This beautiful palace hotel is just opposite the road, overlooking the Gateway of India. We went to the Harbour bar, a lounge bar inside Taj, opened in 1933, serving amazing cocktails and with an interesting story behind every creation. “Harbour since 1933”, the signature cocktail from the Prohibition Era is a must try here!
- Café Mondegar: – One of Mumbai’s oldest cafes (1932) along with Leopold (1871) and the first in the city to haul in a classic jukebox. Mondegar is about good old music and good vibe, about fascinating murals created by legendary Goan cartoonist Mario Miranda. It’s a café that serves good food along with wine and beer. It was almost 10pm at Mondegar, we were little tired, but the vibe in this place kept us uplifted.
- Marine Drive: – After a good hangout at Mondegar, we started driving back to the hotel through marine drive and then just stopped here! How can we not stop here? This is the best part of the city especially at night, when all the traffic and noise and stress and the heat magically turns into peace, hope, freedom, tranquility, love and happiness! Stroll along the beautiful walkway or simply sit and keep looking at those waves hitting the rocks as the cool breeze and enthralling view of the horizon sweeps you away from all those inhibitions, apprehensions and negative cobwebs pestering your mind. This place is about spending time with yourself, setting yourself free and rediscovering yourself. To forget and forgive, to look forward to life, to dream, to hope, to win and to fall in love again!
Towards the end we drove along Ratan Tata’s residence for the respect and admiration we have for him and via Bandra-Worli sea link which was even more awe-inspiring at 3 am, we headed back to the hotel to sleep over the ecstatic day!
There is so much about Mumbai or just South Mumbai to be precise, that evokes and arouses the philosopher and the writer in me that I am not able to put an end to this post and yet I don’t know what else to write that has not already been told about this city!
Recollecting the quote from my post on London:
“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity.”
Mine has been a passionate love affair with this city! What’s yours ?