Ten Highlights

  1. Watch a play in Tata Theatre, NCPA
  2. Drive fast on Marine Drive at night
  3. Enjoy the high tide on Worli Seaface
  4. Get stuck in the traffic jam during Ganesh festival
  5. Eat in Masjid area during Ramazan
  6. Have a drink at Cafe Mondegar
  7. Do not miss the midnight kababs at Bade Miyan (although not the same anymore)
  8. Take a walk in Kotachiwadi
  9. Enjoy the street corner anda pav and cutting chai
  10. You figure it out. After all, its Bombay!
  11. Bonus: Go to IIT Bombay. It's the best place in the world

Oh, so you love Bombay too? I first arrived in Bombay in the July of 2000. It was my admission in IIT that brought me here. The first impression, doubtlessly, was that this place is chaos on the face of earth. And I wanted to get out of here as soon as I finished my studies. Coming from the calm and serene Hyderabad, I was so damn sure I would never like Bombay. But the charm of this city is such that it grows on you ... it sinks into you.

Bombay is truly made of the stuff dreams are made of. Monsoon. Crowd. Streets. Chawls. Locals. Mills. Crime. Cars. Carts. Underworld. Business. Bollywood. Bomb blasts. Stock Market. Theatre. Shopping Malls. Flats. Slums. Penthouses. Expressways. Fights. Fervour. Passion. Fear. Fever. Don't know why, but I am somehow charmed with everything that is Bombay.

So much for being poetic. Let's get to see what you can enjoy in this lovely and charming city. I will not take the beaten route but try to put down in this travelogue some less explored but equally fascinating, if not more, areas from Bombay. That means, I will give a skip to Marine Drive, Gateway of India, Prince of Wales Museum, Juhu Chaupaati and stuff.

Race Course
For the uninitiated, the Race Course is near Mahalaxmi in Bombay. Races happen on some Sundays in two seasons (you can get a calendar of races for Rs. 10). The biggest race is the Derby that happens in around Feb and hosted/ sponsored by Vijay Mallya. Unless your dad is very rich, don't get into betting ... you will never make money in horse racing. But if you want to have some fun with a couple of hundred rupees, this is a good place. Come here to experience the rich of the city.

Koliwada - the fishermen village
Bombay, they say, was a set of small fishermen islands before the British got people to settle here and turn it into the industrial and business capital of India. That way, the fishermen or 'kolis' were the first inhabitants of Bombay. Some of them are still here ... a little group in a modern village called Koliwada near Worli Seaface. The men of the family leave for the sea and get back with their catch of fish and prawns in the evening. If you don't mind the tight lanes, fish smell, cats and crows, this is a place to spend an evening. The breeze here and view of Bombay is good.

Kotachiwadi - Goa in Bombay
I was actually amazed to see this locality right in the heart of city. It's a Goan village for all you know! Except for some plush bunglows in Colaba and Malabar Hills, I have never seen houses in Bombay with a front yard, back yard and a boundary wall. Not middle class housing atleast. And that's exactly what I saw in Kotachiwadi! And most of them done in wooden cottage style of Goa. The government has declared this area as a heritage site and in order to preserve the culture, prohibits any modern construction or alteration. The locality's entrance is small and unnoticable from Girgaum area. And once you enter it, you are immediately shut off from the hustle bustle of the busy city. Its a lovely lovely place. A must see area if you are fascinated by city streets.

Banganga, Walkeshwar
I bet that even if you have been living in Bombay for 5 years, there is an 80% chance that you would have not heard about Banganga. Let me first tell you about the location. At the Choupati end of Marine Drive is Walkeshwar. In Walkeshwar is Governer's residence. And beside Governer's residence and hidden behind a lot of buildings is the Banganga tank. The moment you arrive here, you are once again shut down from the busy lifestyle of Bombay and enter a Varanasi like atmosphere. The huge tank is lined with small temples all around.

And theres a folklore behind the name Banganga. Lord Rama was on his way from Ayodhya to Lanka to fight demon king Ravana and fetch his wife Sita back. He stopped in Bombay and was looking for drinking water when he hit an arrow (baan) into the ground. A stream emerged (ganga) and formed the present tank.

Chor Bazaar
I had only heard about it or seen it in movies! Yes. This is the chor bazaar of Bombay. And it's real. The streets, once again, will leave you mesmerised. Tight narrow lanes and stores filled with everything you can imagine. It's like a trance to be here. It's not a beautiful sight but it's very unique. Antiques, old cameras, electronics, ripped off cars, carpets, everything. I guess you need to be a bit careful while buying. But heck, who wants to buy in a chor bazaar. I simply came here to see the place.

And some pictures from the street life of Bombay ...

Tags: India

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