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Mumbai Madness

Mumbai Travel Blog

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Despite being winter, the temperature in Mumbai was similar to the early summer weather we had just left in Australia, plus humidity. Thankfully, we stayed with A's parents in Malabar Hill which is on a pennisula and receives a lovely sea breeze. On our first morning, I was lucky enough to have a proper massage by a visiting masseuse, which was almost too relaxing for the day in town to follow! A's mum, E, took us to Indigo Deli, which is a proper deli downtown and serves good western food (burgers etc) and coffee. She wanted to ease us slowly (especially me, being my first time in India) into Indian food.

If only you could be eased slowly into Indian traffic too! There is nothing quite like it, but I later discovered Mumbai is a little different as no auto-rickshaws are allowed in the southern parts of the city.

Mosque under construction.
But there are plenty of normal taxis and cars to make up for this. The roads are actually in decent shape in Mumbai, and people generally obey the traffic lights, but forget about lane markings. In the narrower streets and alleys of Crawford markets, there are some cycle rickshaws carrying loads (often protruding metres behind them) and the odd cow lying passively in the middle of the road.

We explored the markets on foot, and they were laid out in the typical way - with shops selling the same thing all in the same area. The flower market was particularly pretty, with men and women weaving flower garlands and convincing Anton to buy me one. Marigolds and roses were most common. E then took us to the cow shelter, which is a special place and not listed in any guidebooks.

The token cow on the road.
For Rs 10 you can buy 5 little balls of starchy cornmeal or a bundle of grass to feed to the cows - we bought both. The mummy, daddy and baby cows are in separate communal stalls, so we made our way to each. They were the most beautiful cows, mostly honey-brown with big dark eyes and long lashes, and very placid (although the bigger ones muscled their way to the front to eat the food). Apparently my arm was quite tasty as they all seemed to enjoy licking it (with their rough, sticky bluish tongues). Unfortunately, it's not kosher to take photos there so we left with memories only.

The following day we visited Elephanta Island. This involves a 1.5 hour boat trip across the seriously murky water of the harbour - at one point there was an oil slick on the surface! I had my first veg thali on the island (thali means "plate" in Hindi and is typically a lunch dish involving rice, chapati, dal, curry, pickle, chutney etc.

Temple detail.
). As my first proper Indian dish, it was fine but nothing special, and it was also limited (they will refill your plate in an unlimited thali). Outside the caves, Anton  had forgotten he had a bag of apples tied to his bag (his mum had given them to us to give to any street kids who asked for money). Of course, we also forgot that monkeys are a menace - before too long they had leapt onto his bag and stolen two apples, much to the amusement of other tourists. We recovered the two remaining apples and hid them in my bag. I later offered one to a sweet, hungry-looking dog who followed us up the hill, but it appears dogs don't eat apples.

The caves at Elephanta are full of Hindu sculptures, all quite impressive in size and detail although many of them are damaged or were destroyed by the Portugese when they were discovered.

A lingum.
I found the lingam (symbol of worship of the god Shiva) most intriguing, short and phallic-like and the central focus of each room they were in. We hiked up the hill to see the cannon, a remnant of the naval base that used to occupy Elephanta. I was impressed by the eagles circling overhead.

Back on the mainland, we had a quick snack and lassi at Leopold's (apparently quite an institution), then caught a taxi to a medical centre to meet A's sister, T, where they would both get dental checkups. I ended up also having a checkup and clean, convinced that it was much cheaper than back home and this was a reputable dentist. I hadn't had a checkup in probably close to 2 years so it was a relatively unpleasant experience, involving pain and blood and I was told I might need a root canal and my molars sealed .

Intriguing store selling stuffed tigers.
..things to look forward upon my return!

The next day we would leave for Amritsar via Delhi, and would only return to Mumbai for a mere day and a half before flying back to Sydney. It definitely warrants more time, to marvel at its old buildings, temples and mosques, the beach and all the modern stores squeezed among the mayhem.

ted332 says:
nice blog!
Posted on: Jan 15, 2008
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Mosque under construction.
Mosque under construction.
The token cow on the road.
The token cow on the road.
Temple detail.
Temple detail.
A lingum.
A lingum.
Intriguing store selling stuffed t…
Intriguing store selling stuffed …
Mumbai Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Real beef in India.
I went here on my first full day in India, to ease my stomach into Indian cuisine. If I had started eating street food the following day, Indigo Deli … read entire review
Mumbai
photo by: vvicy1