It was a pleasant surprise when we realised that all the crazy noises of Grand Road station area stop somewhere around midnight. Seems that there is a special law that forbids to honk in the night and morning time. We woke up around 7:30 and everything was calm. Almost no people on the streets, no cars, no salesmen… How can that be? Are we the only ones awake? Is this still Mumbai?
Our first plan for the day was to get train tickets to Udaipur. We took a local city train to the very center/tourist area of Mumbai. The ride did cost us 5 Rs per person. We accidentally got in the disabled compartment and felt a little bit guilty about it, because it was way less crowded than other compartments and we ae not really disabled. * Later on we learned from the local students that they would actually prefer the disabled compartment because of the same reason. And we should not worry about profiting from the opportunity given.*
We went to Churchgate Train Travel Office. We were too late to book regular tickets and too early for the emergency quota that opens one day before the departure. We would have to come back a day later at 8 am to get our row number so that at 10 am the ticket could be booked. It means – we come back tomorrow.
We didn’t have much of a plan for the day. Find something for breakfast and see the city. And so we just wondered around. I was rather surprised by the amount of people (actually the lack of it) in Colaba. Even though it is considered tourist area we barely saw any… But of course there are many people wanting to profit from you.
We had our first encounter with temple guys who would make all kinda blessings and give you good luck charms and candies in exchange for “voluntary” donations of at least 150 Rs… Thanks, but no thanks! And then at the Gate of India when had just get rid of the temple guys and all I needed was a bit of shadow and calming down (the temple guys did get on my nerves..) we had an other encounter with a ‘business man’.
With a “knows it all” attitude he started to talk with Stijn. Word by word, one smart business tip after an other and soon enough we find out that our sudden friend with word “strength” tattooed in red on his neck is in diamond business… Aha! Unfortunately we are no diamond buyers, so after a while our conversation died and our new friend disappeared as suddenly as he appeared.
* Btw as Stijn was chatting with our diamond friend few Indians just came to pose next to me. No questions – they just place them selves one by one next to me and smile for their phone photo. No problemo…
After that I needed a break. And soon enough I realised that I am hungry. Our first plan was to go to movies. Because it is Mumbai – the residence of Bollywood; because Bollywood movies are fun; because cinemas have AC and it would be the best place to hide from the heat. The cinema we had picked asked 400 Rs per ticket. That was not really compatible with our budget and Mumbai had already made a deep cut in it. So no movies for us today.. But I was still hungry, so we just picked the closest place suggested by Colaba map.
“Suzettes” was an other pleasant surprise. A place that very reminded of some nice little cafes in Mechelen or Riga. To be clear – no Indian food. French inspired buckwheat pancakes with sweet and salty fillings, salads, sandwiches, fresh juices and yoghurts. Prices much higher that what you would pay for regular Indian food, but still bellow European average prices in such places. We were hooked. In upcoming days it would not be the only one new, hip and trendy place that we would visit. You not only have more experimental and healthy food in a nice atmosphere, but you also get to see the young and trendy Indians as well as their upper middle class parents. A totally different world than that one you see on the streets..
Thanks to Suzettes I also discovered a shop “Good Earth” I simply could not resist complimenting a young woman about her lovely pants and trying my luck with maybe finding a pair for myself. The woman was very friendly and introduced me to one nicest shops I’ve seen here so far. It was painful to leave all those beautiful plates, cups and clothes in the shop. No luck with the pants as they didn’t have my size… If I ever have to leave India from Mumbai or Delhi I will for sure pay another visit to one of the shops.
For us the day was long enough. We walked back to our hotel passing by the Marine drive in the sunset. It is about 2,5km long promenade becoming alive around the sunset and after. There is a low stone wall to sit on. The locals and the tourists come to see the sun setting in the sea with 270 degree panorama of Mumbai itself.
The evening was working time with Bollywood music videos in the background and crisps in the bed for dinner.