MUMBAI BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD BE BOMBAY
Mumbai, or as most of the locals I met still call it, Bombay, is a city of massive human density and
urban sprawl. On a map it's shape from the airport reminds me of a bear claw, broadening out as one
gets nearer to the southern waterfront. Three hundred years ago, the topography, that makes up the
city, consisted of seven islands connected by land reclamations. The final reclamation in1942,
created what is now the southern Fort District of the city.
|Inside the Mumbai Airport|
|Corridor in the Taj Hotel|
The Fort Business District, named after the British Fort George, is home to Mumbai's major
museums, a Fab India store location, many other local shops, and The Taj Mahal Palce Hotel, now
beautifully repaired, which was damaged by the Lashkar-e-Tabia terrorist group from Pakastan with
the help of Pakstani/American, David Headley in November 2008).
|Swimming pool at the Taj Hotel|
|Tea Room at the Taj Hotel|
The taxi ride from the airport to the Fort District took about
45 minutes. About half way along the
route, which was rift with heavy traffic, we passed a numerous number of mosques, actuating the
large Muslim community within this city.
|Typical Mumbai Mosque|
I stayed at the YWCA International Center -International Guest House (website: www.ywcaic.info),
which takes both male and female guests. The cost is between 40 and Sixty dollars a night and this
includes, private room and bath, lots of hot water, TV, internet, and two meals a day, buffet breakfasts
and dinners. Not flashy but adequate, with lovely help and also delightful and interesting guests
(some of whom come from cold climes and stay the winter season). Another plus about the
YWCA ia its location. It is within walking distance of almost everything, from the Taj Hotel,
museums, good restaurants, shopping and the post office. If you get thirsty for Starbucks there are
two of those near by as well; one at the back side of the Taj Hotel.
|View from my room at the YWCA|
And walk you will, for outside of Miami
Beach, Florida, and Napier, New Zealand,
Mumbai has the
best collection of Art Deco buildings you will
find anywhere in the world. These are not the small
|Another view from my room at the YWCA|
artful little hotels Miami Beach is known for, nor the charming little shops of Napier, but rather large
stately buildings with Egyptian base relief motifs, Mesopotamia Ziggurat pyramid facades and any
number of other more modern elegant base relief styles. I was over whelmed by the grander and
beauty of these archectural pieces of art.
|Mumbai Art Deco|
|Mumbai Art Deco|
|An example of Mumbai Art Deco|
As for restaurants, I ate lunch twice at the Taj Mahal
Hotel and enjoyed the Tea Room best
where I was seated with a harbor window view. Oddly, my
waiter at first thought I was a Parsi
woman, and began by speaking to me in an Hindi. Mumbai has the largest Parsi population in India,
which I knew. However the waiter explained that Parsi women are the most educated of Indian
women, although in regards to my being Parsi, I think he was putting me on. He said with great
sincerity, that many are blond and speak remarkably good English. As for the upstaris Tea Room, the
food and service were excellent and the view superb. I also eat at the Leopold Cafe, a tourist trap
which is always packed and serves mediore food, but this restaurant has the distinction of being the
one major restraurant that the terrorists also attacked in 2008, so of course I had to try it Last. I went
to one of my standby Indian favorites for Masala Chi, Coffee Day, a snack place with good chai.
|Sign at the Leopold Cafe that was also bombed in 2008|
One of the things I found interesting was that three wheeled auto rickshaws are banned in the
Fort District, of Mumbai; only taxis, buses and private cars are allowed. Additionally unlike New
Delhi, I only met one taxi driver who spoke English, and none of them seemed to know their way
around the city. In Delhi, which is the capital of India, almost everyone speals English, and the
people, even the laborers seem to be sharp clever people who knew where everything was all acoss
Delhi. Where as in Mumbai, which is the business and bollywood capital of the country, among the
people I met - and I was in the what might be considered one of the most cosmapoltian parts of the
city - very few spoke English, which is the language of the government; i.e. one cannot get a
government job anywhere in India if one doe not speak English.
|View of Mumbai Habor|
I know in my short time there, I missed some great attractions; the SanjayGandhi National Park with
leopards, birds and other wildlife, Elephant Island with caves full of carved sculptures and monkeys
(note: I dislike monkeys), but would enjoy seeing the carvings, and dancing at the National Center for
Hopfully I will be in Mumbai soon and be able to reprort on those other attraction and much more.
Meanwhile, my next posts will be about a holiday visit to the Winchester, England, then on to the
Caribbean islands of Montserrat and Guadalupe.
|A carriage ride on the habor walk outside the Taj Mahal Hotel|