Our time at the Four Seasons Mumbai was coming to and end. Our budget for this year is much less than a night in this fantastic hotel, but it did exactly what we needed in terms of getting set up.
We had a look at available buses to Goa and things we had left to do. We decided that a couple more nights in Mumbai was on the cards. We hit Airbnb and ended up with a tidy little room, 20km north of the hotel.
During our stay we met host Kushboo, her husband and their three year old son. We had the opportunity on the second night to spend some time playing with Shaurya and his toys, while we chatted about life in Mumbai.
Kushboo and her husband were keen to learn about living in New Zealand, they had heard a wide range of stories from friends who had visited or moved to NZ. It was nice to be able to compare and contrast life in our respective cities, it’s part of why we love Airbnb – we don’t just see it as a cheap hotel, but an opportunity to share in the life of the city we’re visiting.
The morning before we moved our bags, we took the chance to see one more sight at that end of Mumbai, Dadar Phool Gali – a local flower, fruit and vegetable market. Flowers play an important part in Indian culture, so we knew this would be a big deal.
This part of town is incredible, but you have to be in early before everything goes for the day. The sights, smells and noise makes for a really fun experience, watching people go about their work. We got a little caught out, we’ve quickly learned that anything can be a road in India. We thought we were in a market alleyway (we were!) and next thing you know, there’s a car beeping its horn, with it’s bumper a foot behind you.
Its also interesting to observe the changes as you walk through. Everything is grouped together. If you want roses, all the rose retailers are next to each other. Garlic? There’s half a dozen stalls to choose from, right next to each other.
We were 50-50 on making the journey to see this part of Mumbai on the morning we needed to pack, but we were certainly glad we did. Its been one of our favourite experiences here to date.
The next day, we headed out from our new digs to Juhu. We read it was one of the more affluent areas of Mumbai, and home to Bollywood celebrities. The area is flanked by a long sprawling beach, with views back towards the CBD. It was here that we encountered a fisherman concerned we were headed the wrong way.
A short walk away was the ISKON Temple. ISKON is also known as the Hare Krishna Movement. We were shown around by a Krishna teacher from Mauritius. He talked about spiritual yoga, happiness and the many forms of Krishna. Each form is displayed by incredible statues, many dressed in amazing robes and jewellery. The whole time were were there, a group of men were playing music for the rhythmic chanting the followers partake in, it’s heard not to get caught up in it.
From the temple we headed to Juhu Chowpatty. We filled our bellies with some Samosas and a drink. While we ate, we encountered our first proper instance of begging.
A confronting experience
While we had seen many people quietly sitting on the streets, we hadn’t been followed before. As we bought our food, a lady confronted us gesturing for money, and stood next to us persistently asking. It’s confronting, it’s tough but we’ve made a decision for a variety of reasons not to give cash. We certainly make an effort to do our part at home.
We’re keen to hear from other people through comments below or social media, their experiences overseas and how they chose to handle it. It’s a tough, complex issue, so please discuss respectfully.
We made the call, late on our last day in Mumbai to try and squeeze in a couple more things. We grabbed a Rickshaw (or Tuk Tuk) across town. The driver seemed a little perplexed that we wanted him to take us on an 11km journey, but obliged anyway. I’m working my way through some GoPro footage to try and stitch together a short video on our time in Mumbai, the experience of this ride will definitely feature!
We hit the top of a hill, and our destination at the Basilica atop Mt Mary. From the outside it appears like any other European style church, however inside, the walls a lined with bright colourful images of the Christ story. We stayed in the quiet, peaceful space for a while to take it all in.
From there we strolled down to Bandra Fort. Once a Portuguese stronghold,eventually taken over by British forces, and more recently used as a station point for British Soldiers during the Second World War.
From the top of the fort there a nice views of Mumbai, Mahim Bay and the surrounding Land’s End, Bandra Gardens. The gardens were full of teenage couples, hiding among the shadows. Sarah touched on that in a recent post.
Living the dream
We rounded off the day back at our apartment. I managed to get myself into a game of street cricket being played by the local kids. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and judging by the fan club I’d gathered, neither will they!
We spent the next day preparing for our overnight bus trip, but that’s a story for another day!