Travelling for the first time to any city can be very exciting and that too visiting a city like Mumbai had me completely on the edge.Not to mention the fact that Sonya and me were meeting for the first time!!! I reached Mumbai Central Station at 8:15 a.m. waiting in anticipation on what our first reactions are going to be. However,excitement and anticipation soon turned into frustration because we just could not find each other!!When we finally did meet I think we managed to scare one of the ladies nearby who almost jumped up and shrieked because we may have made a bit of a scene!! Anyone who is familiar with Mumbai knows that the fastest and most cheapest way to get around the city is by the Mumbai local train.So we hopped onto one and headed for Marine lines.
From here we made our way to St.Xavier’s college by cab. Thankfully the security guard remembered Sonya from her college days and I got to see the insides of this heritage structure. Apart from being the financial capital of India, Mumbai also has a fine blend of various types of architecture made by the British which can be seen in the older parts of the city.
We headed to a place called Furtados after Xavier’s which sells musical instruments and had a look around. Then in a very impromptu move we headed to the piano section where Sonya taught me how to play “Heart & Soul”, a duet from the 1920’s that is played on the piano. We played and played until the management very unceremoniously told us to get going. Never the less it was one of the most fun experiences I ever had considering that I’ve known that song since I was 12 years old and I finally learnt how to play it(or most of it) in 10-15 minutes. We continued to explore Mumbai till dusk after which we took the local to Andheri where went for dinner.
The next day was special because it also happened to be Sonya’s birthday!!! We went to Juhu for lunch and tried out some sushi and lotus roots at a place called Ruka. Never really had sushi except some kind of Indian sushi(don’t ask). So was a little apprehensive about raw fish sliding down my throat. I was in for a treat though. I loved it!!! Sushi is amazing!! In fact we had two platters of it. It was very well done and I look forward to trying more sushi!! We headed for Juhu Beach which was a 5 minute walk from the restaurant for a small stroll. On the one hand it was drizzling but on the other hand it beat having to walk on the beach on a sunny 3 o clock afternoon. We headed back to her home in the evening for the party that her family was throwing for her. Got to meet her friends Del,Shef(a.k.a Master Shifooo) & Tashu who are just fantastic people!
Being an avid history fan I wanted to see at least one of the rock cut caves that were in the region and I got to do that the next day.We boarded the local to Borivali and headed to Sanjay Gandhi National Park which is about 1 km away from the station. Once at the park there was the option of walking,bus or cycling. Since the approximate distance from the National Park entrance to the caves and back is estimated at 12 kilometers walking was out of the question.We ended up taking cycles and soon realized that cycling in the national park isn’t a walk in the park!!
It had been a while since Sonya or I had cycled and we made sure that we stopped often to watch the scenery around us and catch our breathe if one were to be more specific. The front gate had a warning that crocodiles were often sighted near the rivers and so going near them were prohibited. The Park authorities also made it clear that any survivors of a crocodile attack would be prosecuted but that didn’t seem to bother most of the people(including us) who were having a gala time in the rain.
After a number of stops and one final uphill struggle we finally reached the Kanheri caves. There were a number of caves that were carved into the hill but only 1 gathered most of the crowd. After cycling that long I guess it was hard to smile and pose for the camera.
We explored a couple of other caves but there wasn’t really much to see. The view was good as we climbed higher but in terms of seeing more architecture we were in for a disappointment. This is not to say that the work wasn’t good. Its amazing how such wonderful works of art were created from stone and one wonders how long it must have taken them to finish it.We headed back around 4 and caught the local back to Andheri.
We freshened up and headed out for a movie(Pink-Amitabh Bachchan was amazing!!) and dinner with Del,Shef,Tashu,Ryan & Rhea. The next day was amazing because we got to enjoy the city with the most amazing weather.Apparently October is normally hot as the monsoons are almost over but this October things were a little different. We started out by around 12 in the afternoon and caught the local to Marine lines. After enjoying a hearty meal at a Goan restaurant that serves a certain type of meat we headed for Marine drive which was less than a kilometer away.
We hung around Marine drive for a while and I finally got to see this side of the city for the first time in my life. More than the skyline it was bollywood that intrigued me into wanting to see this side of the city. This was one of the best moments of my trip just because the weather was so good.
From Marine drive we got a cab to the Gateway of India. The Taj, Gateway of India & the statue of Shivaji were all within close proximity to each other. I thought the place was crowded but apparently it can get a whole lot more crowded. From here we made our way to St.thomas church.
However we ended up getting lost. We asked a slightly older gentlemen for directions. Sonya started talking in Hindi only to get a reply in some really fantastic English. The old man was pretty helpful in helping us understand how to get to the church. What was funny was that on our way back we ended up getting lost again and had no idea how to get back to Church gate station. As luck would have it we met the same old man en route who couldn’t contain his amusement as to how we managed to get lost again. He was once again very helpful as were most of the people around the city and it just makes one wonder why Delhi isn’t more like Mumbai in terms of people just being friendly.
We ended up a little too late as the church had been closed for the day but the place that we arrived was nothing like what I expected it to be. It was as if I’d been transported back into time with architecture from a different era in time. I couldn’t get my eyes off the Flora fountain which looked nothing short of stunning. We walked around for a while longer and sat on the stairs of the Asiatic Society before we headed to Church gate station.
Overall it was an amazing trip and before leaving for Delhi we managed to finish the duet that we started on our first day which was nice.