We spent a full day exploring Mumbai (मुंबई) on our second day in India. As that day was also the one year anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai Attack, there were many vigil ceremonies, protests and rallies going on around the city.
We had breakfast at a restaurant called Moghlai, located opposite Leopold. This restaurant caters to the local and prices were less than half of those at Leopold while quality was around the same.
We ordered omelettes, chappati and a “veg fried” (some paste-like vegetable dish to go with the chappati).
Some Indian guy tried to chat us up again in the restaurant, claiming he was from the UK and could take us on a slum tour at a good price. His story is absolutely dubious. We just let he rambled on till we left the restaurant and bid him goodbye.
After breakfast, Jeremy had to interview some people to file a story on the 26/11 vigil back to Singapore for work. We headed to Leopold first to take a look. There was a rally group there, gathering signatures to condone violence.
We then headed to the Colaba Causeway where the bulk of the other media personnel were gathered. There were already several local TV news crew there when we reached. While Jeremy was interviewing people, Rachel and I got approached by two separate journalists from two different TV stations, one after another.
The three of us stood out like sore thumbs there, being among the few tourists present. If you do not count the ang mohs, we were likely the only three yellow-skinned people around. To the Indian journalists desperate for arresting sound bites, being foreign made us instant experts on foreigners’ sentiment on the situation in Mumbai. Not that we mind the attention, given that two of my travel companions are journalists too and all of us understood how stressful it was to get interviewees for breaking news.
Our first interview was with a channel called Focus TV, which the female journalist told us was a TV channel for empowering modern women. The second was a channel called News X. We were surprised to catch our interview on News X the next day on our hotel television in the morning.
We came across an interesting man in front of the Taj Hotel. His name is Manohar Patil. He was an ex-soldier from Latur City and had lost his family in the Latur earthquake. Since there, the man had been touring India on foot to spread his message of peace. Here are some pictures of him waving the India flag and chanting away:
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) is a man whom I respect very much for his non-violent approach to resistance. Via Wikipedia, Gandhi was the pre-eminent political and spiritual leader of India during the Indian independence movement. He was the pioneer of satyagraha—resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, a philosophy firmly founded upon ahimsa or total nonviolence—which led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
We spent quite some time at Mani Bhavan, going through the great man’s life history. At the end of our tour, we were further disgusted by the evils of the British during the colonial era on the pain they have inflicted on many Asian countries and the mess they left behind when they pulled out. The artificial division of India and Pakistan into two countries is one case in point.
We had lunch at a nearby restaurant called By the Way Cafe. Jeremy’s friend, a local journalist came to join us from here. Rachel and I had ordered mutton cutlets with gravy to share. Jeremy’s friend recommended us to a dish called pani puri - a dough dish with lots of interesting spices and toppings. It was delicious! The taste oscillates between sweet and minty with each bite. Very flavourful.
After lunch, Jeremy’s friend brought us to CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) or Victoria Terminus, an iconic building in Mumbai. We parted way there as she still have to go back office for work.
We did a little shopping then. I bought two linen kurta at a shop called Cotton Cottage at around S$10 each. This proved to be a very good buy as they were really comfortable. We should be wearing more of these in Singapore. These are more suited for our climate than shirts and ties, fancied by ang moh.
We then navigated our way to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum) where we spend quite a few hours exploring, taking a crash course on the long history of ancient India. Rachel and I had a nasty encounter with an obnoxious Indian lady here. We had paid for a camera pass and were allowed to take photos in the museum without flash. The rude lady came out of nowhere and warned us sternly to delete all our photos or face a 5000 rupee fine.
Peeved, Rachel challenged her to show us the 5000 rupee fine warning sign and asked her whether she was a museum staff while I showed her my camera pass.
The lady then sheepishly look away and quickly stormed off with her young daughter in tow. We never found out what her agenda was in chiding us needlessly. It could not have been to cheat money from us as she sounded educated and looked well-to-do from her dressing. It’s likely just pure snobbery.
We took a cab to Marine Drive, hoping to have dinner at a restaurant by the sea called Saltwater, recommended by the Lonely Planet guidebook. Alas, the restaurant had closed down!
We enjoyed the sea breeze for a little while and then took a cab back to the synagogue area where another highly reviewed restaurant, Trishna, was located. If you visit Mumbai, you must dine at Trishna. The food there was really wonderful. It is located at Birla Mansion, Sai Baba Marg (next to Commerce House), Kala Ghoda, Fort, Colaba.
We ordered the signature Bombay Duck (it’s actually a type of fish), prawn curry, masala squid, cheese naan, solkadi (a weird pink coloured spicy drink) and salted lime soda.
This dinner will be our best meal through our India trip. The Bombay Duck is highly recommended. It’s a crispy fried fish with tiny edible bones.
After dinner, we headed back to the Colaba Causeway again to check out the 26/11 vigil activities. There were lots of protest and rally groups around. We did not feel we were in any imminent danger as there were lots of armed police and soldiers around. The city has braced itself for any attack on that day.
Rachel was craving for something sweet, hence we bought a butterscotch with swirl cone at McDonald. It’s kind of surreal to be eating a McDonald ice cream in front of tanks and marching mobs.
We passed by Leopold again. There were some Bollywood stars performing there and a huge crowd had gathered, causing a traffic jam. The three of us rushed in to catch a glimpse, out of curiosity. It was a stupid thing to do as Rachel and I almost got crush in a stampede as one of the Bollywood star, Vivek Oberoi took his leave. The crowd of mostly male young men started pushing inwards while Rachel and I tried to get out, startled by the crazy mob. We had to hold on tight to a lamp post or would have been pushed down and crushed. Jeremy fared better and managed to push his way to the front and snap a picture of the star. After our experience that night, we are now convinced how fanatical Bollywood fans can be.
We then headed back to our hotel to rest, tired after spending the entire day out. Tomorrow, we will be leaving Mumbai and catching an early flight to Delhi. Stay tuned to my next update.
My previous blog posts on India:
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