Thursday, 8 March 2012

Saturday 3rd - Mumbai - Internet City of the Eighties

Mumbai is not like anywhere else that we have been in India. At 7 a.m. there are people jogging and doing yoga exercises on the Marine Drive seafront. We show solidarity by heading for breakfast. R starts with youghurt and grapes and D is asked if he would like some fruit. Having asked for a banana it is a bit of a shock when it is delivered peeled and sliced - the first time this has happened since 1958. Today's plan is to walk northward along Marine Drive to Chowpatty Beach, where all the hip people hang out, and then on to Malabar Hill and Banganga Tank. It is already warm but there is a nice breeze blowing off the Arabian Sea. By the time that we reach the tank we are well lathered.

Banganga Tank is the centre of an area of alleys, old houses and temples. Hindus view it as a very holy site and according to legend the wooden pole in the middle of the tank is the centre of the earth. The area itself is almost car free and rather incongruously set amidst the high rise, high price apartment blocks of Mumbai's most exclusive suburb. The tank itself is pretty scruffy with ducks and enormous fish swimming about. After a good look round we grab a taxi for a ride back into the city, heading for the Mangaldas market, the big textiles area.

R soon found what she wanted and our next mission was to find an internet cafe with wifi. You would have thought that this would be quite easy in such a progressive city but not a bit of it. There are a few scruffy, dingy internet offices but no wifi available and there are upmarket (and expensive) coffee chains who advertise wifi but don't actually have it. All very depressing and eventually the heat takes its toll so we flee to our airconditioned room for a siesta.

When it has cooled down a little (the BBC forecast said high of 35C today) we strolled out to view the Oval Maidan where various games of cricket were taking place as well as football training. We had seen a bar advertising free wifi so that was our destination. Sadly it wouldn't connect so we were reduced to looking for somewhere else. Eventually we found an internet shop that would let us plug a cable in although the speed was feeble and when the owner discovered we were uploading photos we were told in no uncertain terms to desist. At least we could post the write ups for a couple of days and check facebook. After this very modest success we went back to nearby Leopold's to celebrate with a beer and to research tonight's dining venue.

R vetoes a highly recommended workmen's canteen and also shuns a pavement kitchen that has quite tasty looking food. We opt for the Delhi Darbar which serves Mughlai cuisine. This will give our livers a breather as they do not serve alcohol. The food is pretty good although the meat content of their Kashmiri Mutton is distinctly lower than the bone content. We walk back to the hotel to ameliorate the calories in the pleasantly warm sea breeze.

The Dome Bar on the roof of our hotel is listed as one of Mumbai's hottest venues with Bollywood names virtually guaranteed. We were surprised that we didn't see anybody that we knew and even more surprised at the £25 bill for two small glasses of distinctly vin ordinaire. That is what we get for being rubber-neckers.

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