This trip to Mumbai was planned right after I met Akhilesh in the hostel in Nepal discovering the different temples. This shows the beautiful magic of traveling when you meet many great people along the way and then reunite again in a different place. This time we had 53 hours in Mumbai to make our reunion – time together – count and like I requested, we did it on a very local string. GO LOCAL !
Getting picked up at the airport
When I arrived in the early evening, I received the best surprise that a person has ever made for me. This is something I will never forget and made me feel special, truly an honour because I was welcomed by my friend Akhilesh – a guy I randomly met in the hostel in Nepal a month before and we only had a couple of hours together. Everyone seemed very trustworthy between us and I even received a traditional necklace known as a ‘Garland’, which they use to welcome people to their country as a tradition and some chocolate. Some would probably class him as a stranger at this point because this was only the third time we’ve met but since it is so different when you travel plus we still had been in touch since we met in Nepal, he was surely a friend of mine.
First local experience: Driving in Mumbai and traffic
From the airport we drove south to find a place to stay for me, which took a lot of time but apparently not because it was Friday, no it’s simply called: Mumbai traffic, which is impossible to understand. Imagine, there is a gap for any vehicle, that vehicle is gonna close that gap haha. Anyways, this didn’t matter because we had to catch up on a lot of stories and enjoyed the time of being reunited.
Second local experience: Traditional music
The next moment he played the song from our fun taxi journey in Kathmandu – a Nepali song But slowly slowly. Unfortunately, our other friend Ani, who I also met in Nepal couldn’t be there because he is living and working in Dubai.
The area Fort in Mumbai is a very touristy area but also well known with a variety of differenced classed hotels/hostels and bars.
First evening (meeting some locals, terror attack experience)
The first stop was ‘Cafe Universal’ where we continued our chat with a Spanish girl that joined our conversation and then went into the area ‘Colaba’ to have some badly cooked chicken dinner at Leopold Cafe, which is nowadays well known from the 26/11/08 terror attacks in Mumbai where they shot people in the restaurant. You can still see gun wholes in the walls. We then headed to Gokul Bar to get some last minute drinks because it was already almost midnight. The bar is located behind the Taj Hotel and when they closed down (funny to see how everyone was just ordering drinks to the latest possible moment), the timing couldn’t have been better when it suddenly started pouring down. Luckily, we found shelter in a cab for our good because it seemed like a tsunami going around, a terrible storm that was I can tell you. We interviewed the taxi drivers who experienced the terror attack and the story that they have been told actually made me get goose bumps.
The rain finally stopped after 45 minutes and we saw the Gateway of India, from where we headed to the Marine Drive, where we walked along, chatted whilst drinking a Chai until late at night.
Third local experience: Catch a local train by myself
The next day, my friend Akhilesh challenged me by giving me a location point to meet him and I had to pretty much figure it out, which train I had to catch. He mentioned: “Tobi, I also want you to experience Mumbai a little bit by yourself !” – I really liked that idea. Meeting location: Chembur Railway Station at 1:30pm.
Fourth local experience: Watch a cinema film
At the train station Akhi picked me up, then his friend Big B and headed to the cinema to watch a new film called Linga at Fun Cinema. Apparently its a very common thing to do to go to the movies on the weekends – so common – so I really liked to be part of the local cultural experience. Before the movie started everybody stood and they played the national anthem. The film was played in Tamil but I could easily understand it by the action. Best experience ever! The movie duration exceeded the two hours and to give you some insight of how inspiring it was, check the song: LINGAA – Indiane Vaa.
More local experiences in the evening
After the movie, we picked up another friend Sanchit and headed to Lower Parel, where we had some freshly brewed beer at Barking Beer. On our way to Bandra we stopped over at the biggest and most expensive residential building in the world called the Antilla with a height of 173 metres and 27 floors occupied by one family – wow, a very impressive high rised building centrally located in Mumbai. We then drove through across the sea bridge to reach Bandra, where we had more drinks at Bora Bora. From there we caught an auto rickshaw to head over to China House at the Hyatt Hotel. On the way, we stopped to have some more drinks next to the highway and have a leak until we got there to find out that you have to pay a high entry fee. I even had a look inside but there was nobody there at the time but the location seemed pretty cool. We had to change the location and a quick pit stop inbetween to eat spicy scrambled egg with bread on the street on the way to Fashion Bar. It was a Saturday night but I had the feeling that there was a weird crowd and so we left when they close at around 1am – haha unbelievable but yes that early. We headed to eat Pao Bhaji, which is another traditional Mumbai dish. The funny fact about this late night restaurant was that they had no permission to sell food at this time of the night but they open the gates when there is no Police around and close it if somebody tells them – business! A fun way of ending, a fun night with friends. Mumbai definitely not the best place to celebrate big parties but the culture is unbelievable !
Reunion: Our last day together
The next day Akhi came to pick me up at my hotel and gave me another present, which was a bottle of wine from a local winery region – yummy. Today, we walked to Colaba again and to see the Gateway during the day. On the way there we stopped by the museum and saw some guys walking up a ladder that was hanging down a building – wow, so high up in the air, unsecured, so dangerous.
We grabbed some snacks, watched some baseball on the pitch where Akhi used to play as well when he was younger. It seemed like this very big area was filled with people playing baseball – they love it.
Another interesting sight was Dhobi Ghat where the have the worlds biggest open air laundry running and we just walked in and around until they noticed us and told us to go – wow its huge.
Before I visited Mumbai, I always wanted to go to the slum area to see how the reality is. Why didn’t we stop in a slum area ? Well most part of Mumbai is a slum and my friend Akhilesh didn’t find it an attraction to be shown because it highlights the dark area of Mumbai city, which he felt isn’t a tourist attraction, which is widely marketed by means of slum tours. This should rather be eliminated because people all over India on average of ten million people are looking for a job to survive. The contrast side is that the real Estate prices in Mumbai are sky high forcing people to stay in slums, hence the poverty – that’s the reality, which made me quite sad.
Next stop was the secret hidden Chor Bazaar – the black market. This market was another highlight for me because they sell everything they can get their hands on and there were no tourists.
We then drove passed the CST Railway Station and caught a taxi to Chowpaty Beach, where I bought a santa mask. Another traditional dish was Gola (indian ice cream), which didn’t hit my taste to be fair but okay. We took a seat along the beach and I told Akhi about the amazing christmas markets in Germany to convince him to visit me during that time. The best time of the year to visit Germany in my opinion – must do ! Read the best places to visit ‘Christmas market in Germany – best places to go‘.
Another location, we used to eat more food at a newly opened ice cream store ‘Bachelors’ that offered chilli ice cream – that was just weird and I didn’t like it. We walked down the Marine Drive, where we met a school class from the North-Eastern part of India and who seemed “very interested” in me and keen to take photos with me. The day wasn’t over yet and I had more ice cream and visited CST station again. It was getting late and we walked back to my hotel. On the corner we ate something else Meetha Pan (beetle leaf), which is good to refresh your breath if you smoke and then it was time to say goodbye – sad moment. Here’s our video summary of local Mumbai visit:
The Mumbai local experience aftermath
Unexpectedly, the next morning I woke up and realised that I left my phone in Akhi’s car, so I told him but I realised after I brushed my teeth that I didn’t feel well when I woke up in the morning. Today, was leaving to Thailand day for me and my health condition developed pretty quickly from not well to very bad condition where I had no more energy to even get up – I still had to pack and make my way to the airport. Suddenly, Akhi arrived and dropped off my phone before he headed to work.
At the end I had to man up, pack my backpack and take the journey to the airport – my dorm mates supported me pretty well and even tried to organise a doctor for me to come. You cannot imagine how bad my stomach was but there is another story I wrote about that shows another kind of travel experience that can also happen.
I TRAVEL FOREVER’s VIEW & RECOMMENDATION
Mumbai, was an awesome location to finish my trip in India with my good friend Akhi, having taken his time to spent with me, showing and introducing me to his culture – I feel very lucky to have met him. I thank him from all my heart for his wonderful gesture and experience. Akhi, a great, young, smart man that I hope to see in the nearer future again. The latest when he invites me for his wedding, which I’m very excited about but I told him not to do this until he turns 30+ haha. I’m lucky to have met and spent time with him ! Until next time, my friend !