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Brian McMorrow | all galleries >> Asia >> India भारत >> Maharashtra >> Mumbai >> Mumbai - South > Click for Mumbai trip report
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Click for Mumbai trip report

At the end of November, 2004, I flew to Mumbai from Dubai on Air India. The flight wasn't
too bad, except for being an hour and a half late and the flight attendent dumping a full drink
on me, and having to go through Bangalore which added 4 hours to the trip...At least for the long
flight the seat next to me was empty. On the shorter flight from Bangalore to Bombay I had an
Indian from Toronto next to me. At the airport in Mumbai, the Oberoi hotel rep met me coming out
of customs and got me into a cab for the hotel. For the one hour drive, the prepaid taxi is 350
rupees (45 rupees/1 US dollar). The cab was a bit rough looking but it got the job done. It was
around 11 pm when I got in so I didn't do much beyond the hotel bar.

I had prebooked Indian railway tickets online which I highly recommend.
They won't ship the tickets overseas, but you can have them delivered to the hotel. Unfortunately
the Indian rail reservations system only lets you book 4 segments per month which didn't cover
all I needed to do, so the first morning I got up and went to the train station. Tell the taxi
driver Vee Tee. (VT=Victoria Terminal...they've renamed everything British in Bombay after local
hero Chhatrapati Shivaji, which to this day I still can't remember...luckily for us, they didn't
rename the city Chhatrapatishivajiabad) Foreigners counter is number 52 upstairs, pay in dollars,
and bring your passport please. That was a bit of a hassle. The station itself is pretty
impressive, a big Victorian building from the late 1800s.

Leaving the station, I meandered through town heading in the general direction of the Prince of
Wales museum, camera clicking away as I went...people, shops, food stalls, some impressive
buildings, people sleeping in the gutter, a little bit of everything. The museum, now renamed
after Chhatrapati Shivaji, "CS", was a bit annoying, as they had raised the price of admission
for foreigners 60 fold from what was in my guidebook. Now we pay 300 rupees, Indians pay 10. I'm
thinking of proposing that Indian citizens visiting the Smithsonian be required to pay $20. After
all, they must have money if they can get all the way to the US, which is apparently the Indian
government's thoughts on us. Talking to the museum curator, he claims he doesn't think the price
should be, in his words, "based on the color of your skin". The museum's collection is a mix of
old Indian statues, natural history of India, and art, and I did find it worth visiting.

After the museum, I headed over to the waterfront and the Gateway to India, Bombay's most famous
landmark, celebrating George V's visit in 1911. Next to it is the impressive Taj Mahal hotel. The
area is very busy with many people enjoying the late afternoon sun. For sunset, I grabbed a cab
for the 30 rupee ride back to my hotel on the opposite side of the peninsula at Nariman Point.
There's a corniche style promenade along the waterfront that also attracts a good crowd. A guy
had a very unhappy dancing monkey. I had a nice time chatting with some locals and taking
pictures as the sun set. I dropped the camera at the hotel and went out to dinner at a place
called Leopolds recommended by the Let's Go guide. Apparently most of the books recommend it as
it was full of foreigners...more than I had seen since I got here. I got my old standby, chicken
biryani, and it was good. I'd take the Kingfisher beer over London pilsner, but Royal Challenge
is the best Indian beer I found. Charges at a local internet cafe are 40 rupees/hr, which is
much better than the Oberoi's 220 rupees/30 minutes. A little taste of Mumbai nightlife -
according to the locals - "The Most Happening Town in all of India!" then it was back to the

Saturday morning I walked around the area of the hotel ending up on the main shopping street,
Colaba Causeway then another cab to the Victoria terminal, where I took a different direction that
last time, to the markets and bazaars to the north of the station. I had a good time and made many
many Indian friends who want me to send them photos. Outside the Crawford Market, which has
probably been renamed the Chhatasomething Shivaji Market, I walked up to a beautiful mosque and
took some pictures. There was a family of 4-5 women in colorful saris and little kids that wanted
their photo taken. While I was doing that, either I bumped into a parked motorcycle (good
version) or someone was offended at me interacting with women and pushed the motorcycle (bad
version)...either way, I got some really nice photos :)

Towards sunset took a cab to Chotpatty Beach, a bit like Jumairah public beach in Dubai. I had
dinner at a good restaurant near the beach, the Cafe Ideal, where I had veggie biryani and garlic
nan with my Royal Challenge lager. Walking back towards the hotel at Nariman Point along Marine
Drive, fireworks started going off and music started a little farther down the road. I come
across a maharaja on horseback surrounded by drummers and candelabra bearers. While taking some
photos, I'm soon being beckoned to join in on the fun. One of them comes up to me and tells me
it's a wedding procession and invites me to come dance...I figure what the hell. I end up
surrounded by 10 drummers in orange followed by the maharaja-groom. The dance is easy...jump up
and down with an arm or two in the air. After a little I manage to break away and find a spot on
the fringe to watch. I entertain some 4-6 year old street kids with my digital camera. As the
groom's procession approaches the wedding festival site and the awaiting bride's family, the best
man spots me again and brings me back to the dance. After a bit he has me shake hands with the
groom and invites me in to the reception. I had already eaten but I figure it's a great
opportunity. I'm but one of 2500 of their closest friends and family...he joked with me it's easy
to get Indians to come out for free food. It was a purely vegetarian non-alcoholic festival with
about 20-30 tables of food and probably 150 cooks...quite a spectacle. After about an hour, I
took a cab back to the hotel and called it a night.

Sunday morning, I got a call from Dru who I was meeting that day. We had a tea in the lobby of
the Hilton, then went to a real posh restaurant for lunch, the Khyber, which is highly
recommended. We split a couple of dishes and I got the leftovers for my train ride that night.
After lunch I had to stop by a camera shop near the train station as my lens cap was a victim of
the wedding procession. It took 2 shots to get a taxi to the Gateway of India because the first
one was an annoying-ritzy-hotel-third-world-country-scam-artist. I told him to fu* off and we got
an honest taxi driver (which most of them here are). The 1 hour boat ride to Elephanta Island is
110 rupees ($2.50) round trip. The crew tell me not to photograph the Indian navy or the fort on
the way across the harbour. They actually have a French-built aircraft carrier. At first I
thought it was British because the Indian naval ensign is the cross of St George just like the
Royal Navy except with the Indian flag in the upper left hand corner instead of the Union Jack.
The fort in the harbour is really interesting looking. It's built to look like a WWI era
dreadnaught. On the way back at night the silhouette was quite convincing.

While I'm upstairs, Dru's down on the main deck chatting up a Sydney girl of Hong Kong descent,
Janice, who ends up spending the rest of the day with us. She had just finished a 2 month
teaching program in an Indian village and was now spending a month seeing India. Elephanta Island
is a worthwhile half day trip from Mumbai. Its 1000-1500 year old temples are carved out of the
mountainside. Super-sized Hindu sculpture, a couple of holy men and lots of monkeys make for a
good time. Dinner was back at Leopolds, then I had to catch a taxi for the 45 minute drive to the
Bandara Terminus to catch my train to Sawai Madhopur.

Nikon D100
1/250s f/8.0 at 58.0mm full exif

other sizes: small medium original auto
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Kiriakos Korakis20-Apr-2008 21:19
An Amazing image ! V !
amish patel 17-Jun-2007 05:16
ru professional photographer
u can c my work though m amateur photographer