Traveling to South Asia has become a form of a spiritual mecca for those seeking a more enlightened way of life. For me Mumbai is my 2nd home, much more than the heartland of Bollywood cinema and a cosmopolitan city in its right, Mumbai is a beautiful city.
Split into different districts you first arrive in the bustling international airport. Here in Juhu, welcomes you into a modern ultra chic airport that rivals any major city, leading you to some of the most decadently beautiful 4 and 5-star hotels in the world with liveried porters and air conditioning to ease you into the heat of this beautiful city.
In the streets, you are met with an eclectic mix of Eastern street markets and Western convenience ranging from little street sellers and stores to full-scale malls and department stores that can and do cater to almost every whim.
By no means does this denigrate the culture, in fact, it enhances and adds to the charm of the place. Rickshaw drivers and tea stands are always close at hand. For those of you who love tea then you need to try the local chai, served in shot size glasses at just a few rupees. You can sit on the side of the road feeling the sun on your back as you sip tea with the locals.
Coffee drinkers are by not left without with some well-known chain shops such as Starbucks. These are available and showcase all that is coffee culture, although a personal favorite is the more cost-effective Cafe coffee day. With its bright and cheerful atmosphere and courteous staff, they treat everyone like a king. Coffee culture is still relatively new but has taken hold with the younger generation and has become a sort of growth industry with a quirky, hipster edge that makes you feel welcome.
If you want to go celebrity spotting, then an evening trip to Carter Road in Bandra is a must. This stretch of road is coastal and is set up as a seating area with views of the water and has become a hotspot for being seen. And of course, relaxing, with an array of restaurants and bars across the city there is something to cater to everyone’s taste.
Away from the more expensive areas, is Goregaon east, where film city sprawls across the land in commune style with film and TV Studios, schools and of course the various offices used by production houses. Like a town in its right, you will pass through checkpoints so be aware this is not a place for tourists, although many have been known to be cast into crowd scenes for movies. And there are several reputable agents who handle this.
Across in the west of Goregaon is one of the single best local restaurants that I have ever come across in my travels through the city called Ratna. In just a few minutes walk from the train station and close the main link road, Ratna is everything that you expect from a local business. With friendly courteous staff, delicious food, all suited to the vegetarian in you, you will be treated with the same respect as a first timer as you would as a regular and their South Indian dishes are fantastic.
For those looking to make the journey less about food and shopping then it’s entirely possible to find shrines to any of the main deities both on the side of the road or at the temples that are scattered across the city in the thousands. From small shrines to temples such as the popular Ganesh temple of Dadar, there is something to suit everyone pilgrim in Mumbai that will be both breathtaking and enlightening.
Although a beautiful city it is not without its perils, and I strongly advise you contact Foreigner regional registration in Churchgate on arrival in the town and follow the protocols set out. The Maharashtra police are exceptional people who are there to help if required and the FRRO team are well placed to help tourists and business people as they maneuver around the city. Beggars and cons are common in Mumbai as in every modern town, so it’s worth noting this and be sensible.
Overall Mumbai is a beautiful place full of color and life that will get into your blood, and you will miss it when you leave. The feel of the sun, the beautiful array of people and language is just a small part of its charm, and it will become a 2nd home to you the longer you stay.