Our journey from Goa to Mumbai was actually quite cool, it was our first encounter with Indian railways and we decided on a carriage with air con so it was quite civilised. Vendors roam the aisles continuously selling chai (Indian tea) along with masala flavoured crisps and many other weird and wonderful concoctions. After an 11 hour journey, we couldn’t have been thrown into the deep end more than by arriving in Dadar train station at midnight. It was one of the craziest places I’ve been, people whizzing around us, music pumping from what seemed like 100 different directions and the most overwhelming smells. Some great, some not so great!
We stayed in Colaba, over looking the Taj Mahal palace and the Gateway of India. We spent our first day meandering around the city. Colaba, Church Gate and Fort are the places to be with tons of markets selling pretty much everything you could possibly imagine. It’s a fashion girl’s play ground.
Mumbai isn’t quite as crazy as I thought it would be. I envisaged elephants roaming the roads with a Saturday afternoon on Oxford street feel about it. But despite the inevitable mayhem of a big city and the extreme driving style adopted by the Mumbaikers, we saw very few collisions which is unbelievable really. Two things I would say though is don’t put yourself through the trauma of posting anything in India, I still feel scarred after my 3 hour ordeal trying to send a parcel to Australia. Secondly, the sun cream isn’t sun cream, if you haven’t brought any with you, prepare to be burned. I have lobster legs as we speak.
I have discovered two great drinks: sugar cane juice and non alcoholic mojito (lime soda with equal measures of sugar syrup and salt) the perfect mocktail when you have sweated your body weight that day!
We visited Chowpatty, also known as ‘the necklace of Mumbai’. The coastline is a semi circle lined with sky scrapers and bright lights which creates a necklace effect when you fly over it. I liked it here, its filled with loved up teenagers who seem to have a much more laid back life styles than those in other areas of Mumbai.
Taj Mahal Palace
Gate way of India
India is all about festivals. With claims that there are 330 million Hindu gods it’s not surprising. The Ganesha festival is currently taking place and we have been lucky enough to be part of it! The story goes that Parvati was cursed and could not have anymore children so she created a child out of dirt; this boy came to life. She asked him to guard the house while she took a bath at which point Shiva, Parvati’s husband wanted to see his wife and became angry when Ganesha refused him entry. Shiva became so angry that he killed Ganesha by chopping off his head, at which point Parvati appears and explains that this is in fact their son. Shiva sent his men out into the forest to find a head of somebody/ something who had been through the same thing as Ganesha. The men returned with an elephant’s head which is why Ganesha has since been worshipped as the elephant headed God. Worshipping him is said to be about being in a state of mind rather than worshipping him as a physical being. Elephants are perceived to be lucky animals here in India and worshipping Ganesha is said to bring you luck and wisdom, he also represents new beginnings so is often a big part of wedding celebrations. The festivities are loud and vibrant with lots of dancing, smiles and laughter. We were watching each community cascade through the streets, each group themed in beautifully decadent costumes. We were invited to dance, an offer we could never refuse!