I’m starting to sound like a broken record…
After our time in Udaipur, we hopped on an overnight bus to head down to Mumbai. Before we arrived in India, I had this idea that we would be catching the trains everywhere we went but, because everybody catches the trains in India, they’re actually quite an expensive way to travel. We took overnight buses more often because they were they were cheaper, quicker and weren’t always fully booked (like most of the trains usually were).
We arrived in Bandra East, Mumbai at about 7:00am the next morning. We stepped off the bus into proper monsoon rain. To be fair to India, we were travelling right in the middle of the monsoon season, but, the volume of rain still surprised me. It resulted in Boy and I having to wade through the streets, in jandals of course; not an easy task when you have a huge pack on your back, and a daypack on your front! We made our way to the hostel, and waited in the foyer for the beds to become available.
Because of the all-day rain, we had to hang out at the hostel. We went down the road to pick up some lunch at about midday, but couldn't do much else. Luckily, it stopped raining that evening so we decided to get outside while we could. While we were in India, I really wanted to see a “Bollywood” film, and Mumbai - being the heart of Indian cinema - presented the perfect opportunity. We watched Munna Michael because it looked to be the most “Bollywood” film on at that evening, and it did not disappoint. Some many extended dance numbers! Complete with multiple costume changes during a single dance sequence (because continuity is not as important as dazzling costumes). When we watched the trailer on YouTube, there were English subtitles. When we watched the movie in the cinema, it was in Hindi, and there were no subtitles. Obviously! Lucky for us, the story wasn't overly complicated and we worked out what was going on. Another win for Boy and Kat.
Fun fact: before a movie screens in an Indian cinema, they play the national anthem. I'm reasonably sure this is true because we went to two other films while we were in India (Hyderabad and New Delhi), and it occurred each time. Everybody stands up to sing. We stood up too - not to sing it because our Hindi is sub-optimal - to have a look around. Everybody had their hand on their heart, and was belting out their national anthem before the movie began.
The next morning, the rain continued to hold off, so we made friends with a guy named Callum (from England) and headed into town. We caught the train from Bandra East Station, in the northern part of the city, to Colaba, in the south. From my perspective, the trains in Mumbai are like what you may have seen on TV or in a movie. The platforms are very crowded and everyone wants to get on the train. We arrived in Colaba, and headed to our first stop which was the Gateway of India, near the port. It is a beautiful structure, but you have to pay to have a look around it and, after a pretty brief discussion, we concluded the free view behind the fence was just as good as the ₹200 view slightly in front of the fence.
Afterwards, we wondered around the city a bit more to enjoy the lovely architecture – The Royal Hotel is a local highlight. We then hopped into a cab that took us to Marine Drive. Marine Drive is a seafront promenade, which is shown in the picture at the top of this post. It isn’t really a seashore in the typical sense because it has been built up and stabilised with, what looked like, giant concrete ‘Jacks’ but it was still pretty neat to sit on the wall and look out over the Indian ocean. It dawned on me at this point that I hadn’t seen the ocean in months; in New Zealand, the ocean is always there whenever you take a flight. In Nepal and northern India, it’s mountains and land for as far as the eye can see. We made our way back to the hostel and decided to message a friend named Olivier (who is shown in the first India post in the ‘Breakfast’ picture). While in New Delhi, Olivier told us that he was living in Mumbai for a year-long placement from his work in Quebec, and that if we were visiting, we should go for dinner! We met Olivier at an up-and-coming part of Mumbai called Kamala Mills. There were lots of nice restaurants and bars to choose from. We had a great catch-up, and learned from him what it’s like to live in Mumbai.
We spent a couple of extra days in Mumbai because, unfortunately, I was stuck in bed due to some sort of flu-type bug that I had picked up. It made it very difficult to stand up, or even open my eyes, so Boy explored the surrounding areas while I slept off whatever it was I had caught.
When I was feeling well enough to walk around a couple of days later, we booked another overnight bus to take us to Goa, which is where I'll leave end this post. My next entry will be about our time in the beautiful south: Anjuna, Goa and Fort Kochi, Kerala.
Bye for now,