Arriving at the ungodly hour of 2.45 am at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, we are hit with a whiff of what can only be described as…India. The muggy and suspiciously sewage like smell hits you as soon as you get off the plane!
Getting through customs is easy enough but having to wait for our luggage for what seems like an eternity, on the one working carousel, with about 3 other plane’s worth of luggage is what tests our patience, especially as there are no luggage trolleys available! An hour of hanging around later we have our luggage and are dragging our suitcases towards the one working x-ray machine, only to realise that in India, there is no concept of a queue – people even go to the extent of throwing off your luggage from the machine so theirs can go on, and I am not exaggerating! Word of advice – you have to be as ruthless as the Indians or else you will get trampled all over – even the granny that you would otherwise be nice to – will pinch your coveted luggage trolley when you are not looking!
And the irony of it all – you could make a pickle with the trolleys that are neatly parked in a line in the parking lot at the arrivals terminal! Boy is this going to be one interesting trip…
Luckily the chaps from the Novotel on Juhu Beach are there to pick us up with cold towels and cold water, to soothe our ruffled feathers.
Our one day in Mumbai flew by too quickly. This was a pit stop on our journey to Rajasthan where we were attending the wedding of my aunt. My dad still harps on about how we robbed him of showing off to us the Mumbai that he knows and loves – but we shall go back with him so he can make his dream come true!
We should have gone to see all the sights Mumbai has to offer but with our limited time, we had to indulge in shopping, also what Mumbai is famous for. My sister and M spent the better part of the day traipsing around looking for a BlackBerry Sim (crackberry addicts that they are) which is the most difficult thing to obtain in India. Till this day, they swear they did not receive the credit they paid for to a man called Sampat in a shop on some road in Mumbai. Hmmmm.
All I remember is the result of waiting in a car in the heat for the two goons to get their sims or whatever it was they wanted was being so ravenous that the only solution was for my parents and I to go in to the first roadside dhaba we saw. At this dhaba, my mum and dad and I ate the most delicious Pau Bhaji that I have ever eaten in my life – the waiter kept bringing the hot, buttery bread buns and we just couldn’t get enough. Washed down with a hot cup of chai, I can honestly say that was one of the best meals my parents and I have ever eaten – we talk about that Pau Bhaji and Chai till this day!
All fuelled up and sim card saga somewhat sorted, we headed to the famous Linking Road to indulge in some retail therapy. I bought a couple of gorgeous saris where they made the blouses overnight and had them delivered to our hotel well in time for our check out the next day. Impressive!!!
A couple of drinks at the Gadda da Vida bar at the Novotel (where they had a great happy hour on buy one get one free Bacardi Breezers and Kingfishers) and a jaunt on Juhu Beach, soaking in the atmosphere with the locals buying food from vendors and playing football, and we were ready for a good dinner.
The concierge recommended we try Mahesh Lunch Home for dinner, and I would recommend this restaurant too. This is a pretty well known seafood restaurant on Juhu Beach, where you choose your crustacean fresh from a tank. They also have a very large selection of north Indian dishes on their menu. We indulged in Pomfret, a fish I had never heard of but loved the taste of, cooked to perfection, and lobster cooked in garlic butter. The ambience was amazing – we sat at the terrace – but the company is what made the evening extra special.
This was the first international trip that my parents, sister and I had taken together and we felt so honoured and excited at the same time to be able to travel to India together. I will always remember our first proper evening in India as nothing less than perfect.