So it’s now 2 years since we went to India and I still haven’t finished writing up my India diary. Better get cracking! Must finish it before we head off to Sri Lanka in January.
So to Mumbai (though I still wish it was Bombay).
Arrived at a very quiet Mumbai Central station, Caught taxis to our hotel at Nana Chowk near Grant Road station, the Krishna Presidency, which was really nice. Wandered up to the nearby house of Mahatma Gandhi which is now a very interesting museum devoted to him, thus completing our Gandhi tour. Especially loved the dioramas of his life. Then walked to Kemp’s Corner where we had lunch at an Israeli felafel shop. Then up the hill to Malabar and the Hanging Gardens. Took the adventurous under construction path down the hill back to our hotel, where we vegged out for a while. After our rest we walked to Chowpatty beach and watched the sunset and had very disappointing bhel puri, nothing like I remember it from the 1980s. Beach was very quiet and no beggars at all unlike last time. Had dinner across the road from hotel at Shetty’s restaurant, food Ok and included a lecture from Mr Shetty on how to eat Indian food.
Next morning had a reasonable buffet breakfast at the hotel before catching the local train from Grant Road to Churchgate station. Tickets were only 4rs and even got a seat, surprisingly no one on the roof or hanging out the doors. No sooner had we walked over to the Maidan than a man stopped the boys and offered them, then all of us roles in a Bollywood movie – at last, finally discovered! Of course we said yes, a bit suspicious but also very excited as we had had no luck trying to find a Bollywood tour that morning. We organized to meet next morning at Colaba. Anyway, continued on our way to COlaba and then the famous Taj Mahal Hotel, still lovely and ornate in side despite the tragic happenings of a few years ago. Onto the Gateway of india, and the Shivaji statue. Average lunch at Kemals beofre walking up through the British part of town past the museums and popped into the beautiful Sassoon Library and the fascinating synagogue painted sky blue that Madonna once visited. After being sidetracked by an excellent CD shop (Rhythm House on Dubash Rd) went through an odd market selling sex toys to the nice gardens of Horniman Circle, with an ornate church and the Town Hall and State Library. Walked back past the famous Flora Fountain then past Churchgate along Veer Nariman Rd via a very good internet cafe to the Kam Ling Chinese restaurant for some yummy Bombay style Chinese food.Caught a very empty train back to our hotel. I love Mumbai!
Up early to check out and get down to the Maccas at Colaba for our big film break. Lots of backpackers waiting there, as well as a woman whose son was also at Leichhardt high school. A taxi took the kids first to Mehboob Studios, at Bandra West. A bus then came along to take the rest of us. On arrival we were handed breakfast, anyone with facial hair was asked to get it off and then we were fitted with our costumes. I got a lovely brown suit! We discovered the set was the control room of London Rail, and we were in a movie with great Bollywood actor Boman Irani called Tezz. I’ll go into more detail another time, but all in all it was great day and even if we all ended up on the cutting room floor it was one of them most unique travel experiences ever for us. A few dramas getting back saw us staging a Gandhi style hartal on the bus because they wouldn’t drop us off at Victoria Terminus as promised, but eventually the bus drivers cracked and took us there. Incredible station, so ornate and huge with thousands of people around. Found our train and settled into our sleeper, not the nicest one we’ve had. Happy that i woke at the right time to have chai at Ratnagiri station where the exiled King of Burma lived (not in the station of course!). Will have to return to Mumbai again however, as we lost a day of sightseeing because of our movie.