December 9, 2004 - December 23, 2004
January 3, 2005 - January 4, 2005
I came to Bombay (now called Mumbai), and in fact India to see my friend Dhara who was flying in for family. Sadly, she missed her flight from Boston, so by the time she arrived, we only had 1 day to spend together. But all was not lost because the city provided a great break from the somewhat dull nightlife scene in Kathmandu, and I won't deny I even did some shopping.
I arrived at 4AM and had to maneuver my way into the city from a distant train station in the north. I decided I wanted to learn as much of the city as possible, so I started walking around immediately and didn't stop until 8PM that night. The city isn't exactly westernized, and has many of the filth problems in any developing city, but here and there I found a sanctuary or beach, or even just a busy intersection with nice restaurants that reminded me in a vague way of London (the double decker buses helped). I spent 2 days walking, and by the third day found I was retracing all my steps. I'd seen everything I knew to see. That's when I switched my attention to the nightlife Bombay has to offer. Unlike the daytime Bombay, the nightlife in the city is exclusively western. The restaurants, lounges, bars, and clubs all compete with NYC, Paris, and London venues. Of course the prices match, but for the opportunity to let loose and forget the worries of budget travel it's a fair price indeed.
Most travelers only stop here on their way to Goa, but for those sticking around long enough to enjoy a night out, my advice is sleep through the day, and spend your time in Bombay out on the town.
The new 'Dil Luteya' Jazzy B
music video with Apache Indian... and
And even though I couldn't see myself in this video,
here is the
The Salvation Army Hostel in Bombay was a great place to meet
other travelers, and
still a cheap $4 considering this is the 4th most expensive city for real estate in the world!
Typical travelers plea:
"I need Kenya or East Africa guide book. I will pay reasonable price.
Leave note here, or meet me here in morning or evening."
The Gateway to India at dawn
Charlesgate Train Station
Cricket in front of Bombay University
After a night out with some people from my hostel, I was woken up at 7:30 and told to come with them to a movie shoot. I was going to be an extra in a Bollywood film! Well as it turns out it wasn't a film. It was even better. It was a music video for Appache India and Jazzy B. Neither of whom I knew, but I guess Apache Indian was a one hit wonder in 1995 with Boom Shackala, and Jazzy B is currently on the verge of Punjabi-hip-hop stardom. Whatever. The story is we got free food, a fun day, and paid! Later that night a few of us were out for drinks and dinner. We were wait listed and decided to pop into this bar. As it turns out the film crew was there, so we skipped dinner and partied for free for the rest of the night! Not a bad brush with stardom! See the music video here, or go to his the Jazzy B website for a better quality version of "Dil Lutila" when it gets put up.
That's Apache Indian, Hannah, Olly, and Gil
Olly with Jazzy B
Jazzy B and Apache Indian
They got up for a little drunken free styling to get the crowd moving
I was rockin' the 70's vs. British Imperialist look while in Bombay. Surprisingly, some people even liked it!
Victoria Station is a mad-house anytime of day
Dhara made it after a missed flight fiasco, so we walked around the city and went shopping with her family for a day
A few days later more friends from Boston came and we met
up with their friends from Bombay for a few nights out.
Us at Mocha's, a hookah bar with amazing milkshakes
Grandma puffing on the hookah. Everyone loves it.
peach tobacco with a champagne bubbler. Wow!!
The Taj Hotel was always having a wedding or party of some
sort. And the main function room was
RIGHT under Jays room. The music was loud and relentless. After a few complaints, we figured
if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so we crashed this party.
Later that night we met up with some friends of friends who
turned out to be VIP. This was to our considerable
favor, as we had been turned away from every over-packed club thus far. They got us in, handed us drinks, and
then invited us over to someone's house. That someone was the son of some movie stars and some new hot-shot in
Bollywood himself. Too bad I didn't get a picture or name. Ah well, this is his room anyway. He's not in the picture though.
I dropped in on Joss, this Japanese restaurant, so often that
I became a well known regular
by waiters and bartenders. Honestly the best sushi outside Japan! Surprisingly in Bombay!
Every taxi in Bombay has these blue or green-lit
interiors. Makes them easy to find in
the dark, but more importantly, it's REALLY cool!! Also, the body type looks like a
1940's leftover, but like NYC cabs, this is standard, and are in fact late 1990's models.
Bombay is huge, and spread out too much. With no subway
system these suburban trains (usually overflowing
with passengers) are the only way to reduce the 2 hour drive across town to just over an hour. Ugh!!! This was only empty because it was 4am.
The national trains are amazing boxes on wheels filled with
all sorts of people, animals, and
goods. Travel goes exceedingly slowly - my longest journey lasted 39 hours (1200 Km)!!
A view out side the national train ride near Varanasi on my way back to Nepal