“Aamchi Mumbai!” The city’s essence cannot be encompassed within one article, but can be compressed into one. From food to travelling, from shopping to nightlife, Mumbai has it all. Here are the five highlights of this city.
1. Local Trains
You’ve spent a fabulous evening in Colaba. Shopping, lots of great food, beautiful British buildings. You’re on your way back to your hotel in Bandra and want to try the local trains. You get a ticket, you get a seat at Churchgate, the train ride seems full of promise.
Hold up, did you board a Virar train? That’s it buddy, good luck getting off at Bandra. The Virar locals, especially the ones post five o’clock, are a battlefield. You either win or you get trampled by the feisty regulars.
2. Vada Pav
You’ve heard so much about the lentil coated, fried potato snack and you really want to indulge. No one however warns of the pungent chilli and the over eating. Your palette is not used to such big flavours exploding out of this seemingly humble snack.
Oh but is it worth it! The cutting ‘chai-vada pav’ (tea and fried potato snack) meal is one you’ll crave the minute you leave its home town.
3. Rickshaw Drivers
There’s a fifty percent chance your rickshaw driver is a hardcore Maharashtrian. There’s a forty percent chance his meter is rigged. There’s a thirty percent chance his favourite word is “no”.
There’s a twenty percent chance you’re going to be coaxing him to take you to your destination. There’s a ten percent chance he won’t be a surly, tired minimal wage earner. There’s no chance he will stop at every signal and follow every traffic rule, brace yourself during the ride.
4. Street shopping
You’re obviously interested in some bargain market shopping on this trip. Call him “bhau/bhaiyya”. Endearment always helps.
Do not let him know that you aren’t a resident of Mumbai. Check for a “Fixed Rate” sign before you begin your bartering, they’re very adamant about it . Walking away is your biggest weapon, wield it well.
The city leaves you heady. There’s an intoxicating pull in Mumbai and you feel it the first night you lay down in your bed and remember the day you have spent.
The city makes you fall in love with it and you’re going to be more than eager to come back for more.