We are now in Delhi, following a relaxing week in Mumbai. “Relaxing” and “Mumbai” may seem like incompatible words, with the incredible hustle and bustle the city is known for, but as we were staying with family our experience was surely very different than the typical tourist.
Being winter, the weather was cool by Mumbai standards, though I would consider it warm and pleasant in the morning and evenings and hot in the afternoon. We saw highs of 90+ degrees in the daytime and lows in the 60s late in the night. Humidity was sky high. On the plus side, even in the afternoon heat there was often a breeze flowing in from the sea. As long as we weren’t stuck motionless in gridlock traffic, the weather was pleasant overall.
Our time in Mumbai was spent visiting with family, eating a lot of great vegetarian food, driving around, people watching, stumbling onto the set of a Bollywood film and relaxing. We also toured around the city, seeing a few of the classic sights, like the Gateway of India and Taj Palace, and window shopping in side streets (where windows don’t exist!). We visited several modern stores and a mall that felt straight out of Bellevue, WA, USA. Anything in the world can be found here if you really want it.
Unlike many other Indian cities, Mumbai doesn’t have epic forts, ornate palaces or immense temples. I’m saying this in comparison to the ancient cities of Rajasthan or temples of Tamil Nadu for example. Mumbai is better known as a commercial and shopping hub. It has a variety of residential districts, each with distinct housing and shops. It also has miles of beaches (unfortunately most are severely polluted) and is home to a wide variety of people, cultures and religions. It is a people watching paradise.
The food here is of course AMAZING. It is heaven for a vegetarian. The default menu for restaurants is vegetarian and even non vegetarian places have enough veggie stuff to choose from. The fruits are also awesome. Bananas taste much better (sweeter and better texture). Mangoes, papaya, star fruit, guava, pomegranate, and sapote (“chiccu”) are readily available and ripe. A gastronomical highlight was a visit to the “Status” (that was its name) restaurant in downtown Mumbai for a Gujarati thali with over 15 items, served all-you-can-eat directly to your table (it cost less than $6 USD/350 Rupees).
We are now over our jet lag and enjoying Delhi a lot. The weather is much cooler (Alison and I both wore our lightweight down jackets today). In a few days we join a group for a two week tour of Rajasthan and Agra.