My to-do list of travel never started with India.
…although Kerala beaches in the south or the snowy mountain of Kashmir always attracted me, in my mind it was more the like of Australia or Brazil… The odds decided otherwise and I ended up being sent to Mumbai for 2 weeks of work. The nearest place I have ever been to India was Sri-Lanka, when I was working in the Maldives. But I had never experienced India and its cities, and mind you, it was not just any city, but the most populated city in India with its 21 million people: Mumbai.
The period I was there was the beginning of the monsoon, which I thought wasn’t too much of an inconvenience since I had to work. The problem was my one day off per week was soaked in rain too; thus giving me little opportunity to visit the city. It rained everyday.
On a Sunday afternoon, there was a very dark cloud of rain lurking to burst over the city, but before it did, we managed to get out and visit a little. As a perfect tourist, I was brought to the few spots you see in the magazines. I like to think about Mumbai city as an organized mess. The streets have such an incredible buzz that is ongoing day and night. People are just cruising left and right and everywhere you look, there is another surprise to discover. Poverty is omnipresent and it left me a sad impression, country side people flood town in search of the Pot of Gold they will rarely find, and it doesn’t end up in a quest for their future, but in a quest to know what will be on the table tomorrow for their family.
Like all first timer in India, I received my welcome gift for the 2 weeks to come: a beautiful gastroenteritis. I couldn’t say where it came from nor did I care, and I lived with it without any problem. The food was fabulous all along.
The Gateway of India
The Taj hotel… all these places are still fresh in people’s memory, following the terrorist attacks of 2008, and while I was there a journalist got gunned down with 5 bullets as he was doing a report on the Mumbai underworld…
The train station…
Seeing Mumbai and the life it boasts is really a lifetime experience, you might love it or hate it, but you will have to admit: it is truly incredible!
The horses pulling the carriages were not in the best form…
The laundry is a place where people do business. They will come to your home to pick up your cloths, wash them there and bring them back to you once laundered. Fairly interesting place!
As part of my job (I know this sounds hard….) I had to survey a few places in town to have an idea of the local trend and level for bakery and pastry. We visited the newly opened “Le Pain Quotidien”, Belgian franchise bakeries, to find what could have been some proper bread except that it was served to us too old and thus didn’t live up to the expectation.
Worth noting was also the tasting of local wine. I had Shiraz and Chenin Blanc. They both tasted the same, like alcohol with a bit of vinegar and some grape juice. Definitely a long way to go in wine making!
I am putting together two other post about Mumbai, one on sweets and one of tandoor oven and Indian breads with a very nice little demonstration in movie!