It was my childhood dream to visit Mumbai-the fashion Capital of India. Onkesh and I discussed this a lot of times but our travel buddies never turned up for it. One day, I came to know that Ravi also desperately wanted to visit the place. I realized, the same day, that it’s the time to fulfill my dream. After few days I called up both of them on hangout at midnight and voila! Tickets got booked for the Mumbai after spending few hours finding the best deal. I wasn’t able to take my eyes off the mobile screen listing my first flight tickets. Here they are, kept and preserved,  in the remembrance of my first flight.

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PS: That Mrs (just in case you got a good catch) is just a typo all because of Ravi, the devil 😛

Delhi to Mumbai

The day was here finally, Onkesh and I went to Ravi’s place(Kailash Colony) after office as we needed to board the flight at 5:30 am the next morning (24 March 2016). The countdown to the fun-filled trip had already begun, starting from preparing dinner together to clicking loads of unshareable pictures with weird props offered by Ravi 😀

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I slept on/off for a while before it was time to wake up- excitement had shooed away the sleep that day, I must say!! (otherwise, I am no less than a Kumbhkaran :P) Hurriedly we got into the taxi with homemade sandwiches(prepared by me, of course) in one hand and luggage in another.

While sitting in the indigo shuttle, I was enthralled by the idea of boarding an airplane. I fought for the window seat(child in me was so happy 🙂) but barely enjoyed the view. I was petrified when the flight took off and the airplane speed increased exponentially. All thanks to my travel partners for scaring the hell outta me. My ears remained blocked for a while. Then I started enjoying the view outside – it was amazing and felt like I was flying high and higher(~33,000 feet)!

Dark to lesser Darker, Orange to Blue, Blue to White- the Sky behaved like chameleon from all above the height! (It rhymes too!)

Kalina, Santacruz

Time just flew so did we and very soon we landed at Bombay. Anil(my cousin) was already waiting for us. We hired a taxi for Kalina, Santacruz as Anil had already arranged his Manager’s flat for a stay(the manager was off to his hometown). The Flat was perfect with one bedroom and a guest room. Mumbai was quite humid during that time. So, we decided to spend some time at Phoenix mall to experience the flight simulator before starting off with the sightseeing. Here, we stopped by at some south Indian restaurant for the brunch before heading for the mall.

High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel

We reached one of the largest malls in the city. Besides traditional shopping centers, it has the five-star hotel, a residential tower, and commercial space. The ambiance of the place was so catchy and the flight simulator was fun! Accidentally, we found this place(a restaurant with outdoor kinda interiors) which seemed perfect for the photography. We all got our DPs clicked here 😀 (which we flaunted on FB later on). We played some sort of games too in the gaming zone. It is definitely a place to spoil yourself with luxury and high-end brands.

But, wait!, “we haven’t come so far to visit a mall”, I said this to the guys busy in the games. Shortly later, they finally listened to my plea and we hired a taxi for Haji Ali.

Haji Ali

It was already dark by the time we reached this place situated at the backdrop of the Arabian sea, the shrine of Pir Hazrat Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a wealthy merchant turned into Muslim Sufi. There was a long walk to the Mosque, on the way, there were stalls selling things like flowers, prayer mats, scarfs, perfume etc. This walk on the causeway(a km long), with the sea on both sides, and the moon above, all add to our joy.

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We covered our heads before entering the sanctum. As I entered the place, the song Piya Haji Ali from the movie Fiza started playing in my head(Which was picturized here) and I literally got lost in the mystical charm of the place. The tomb was covered with beautiful red and green colored chaddar (covering sheets). Casually I looked up at the ceiling, and got awestruck! It was the Chandelier which I got to know was as old as the Dargah(500 years old).  The place had a powerful energy flow too. No wonder, I was completely mesmerized. Then, I took blessing from the Pir Hazi Ali and tied the sacred thread of faith on the Mannat tree to get my wishes fulfilled.

Chowpatty Beach

A glance from chowpatty shows Chataiwala(Mat seller), Chaiwala(tea seller), Chana wala(blackgram seller), Bhutte wala(corn seller), Balloon sellers, famous food stalls selling pao bhaji and bhelpuri. Friends and family sitting on a mat in a group enjoying street food and a long stretch of white golden sand with crushing waves.

We sat quietly at some place and were watching the waves coming back and forth. “If you come to the beach, you need to get into the water, or else it’s useless”. Yes, the water was dirty, but I was not able to hold myself back. Very soon I got over the thoughts of hygiene and plunged myself completely into the water. Besides this, the food was reason enough to spend an evening by the seashore.

Our wish to eat Pao Bhaji at the place got hazy as we discovered that there were no paos left at the shop, then an idea just changed our life 😛 and we got the paos from some other not so famous shop. The bhaji was authentic and deliciously different from the Delhi version.We tried Gol gappein and black current kulfi as well and both proved to be below average in taste. With this, everyone moved ahead to the next destination – The Marine Drive.

Marine Drive (Queen’s necklace)

The beach adjoins the famous Marine Drive. We walked along the Promenade stretching from Chowpatty in the north to the Nariman point some 2.5 km south to reach the place. We literally got soaked in the salty winds of Arabian Sea while walking around.

Yay! we reached the most awaited destination of the day and it looked nothing less than a glittering diamond necklace- definitely a sight to behold. Even at odd hours i.e 11:30 pm, the place was still very much alive(Welcome to Mumbai, the city which never sleeps!)

Some clicks with increased shutter speed and some with auto timer settings, all added to that so-called impromptu fun! Then, we sat down at some peaceful spot to enjoy the place in its entirety. Soon after, a band of guitarist came up and sang beautiful songs which we rejoiced!

“It’s time and we have itinerary lined up for tomorrow as well” yelled the most punctual guy (who other than Anil?). Then, we boarded Ek chalis ki last local (Actually, second last) to reach the flat. Wait! Wait! Wait! “Let’s end this day on a sweet note” and guess what? we had ice creams at the naturals, the epitome of ice cream making.

Must try – Sitafal, Chickoo, Papaya Pineapple, coffee walnut, tender coconut.

FACTS AND TIPS ABOUT THE PLACE

Best time: Mumbai is a year-round destination but October to March is considered as the best time otherwise it will be rainy or too humid to roam around. 

Haji Ali: The causeway is not bounded by railings. Hence, it gets submerged during high tides and becomes inaccessible. So, do check the low tide timings before a visit! And also don’t miss the Qawwalis performed by the Sufi musicians on Fridays.

Clothing: As you are going to spend time on a beach as well. So, always carry an extra pair of slippers and clothes(because sand irritates a lot once it gets stuck to your denim).

Taxi, Cab or local: If you are traveling for the first time in Mumbai, Taxis and cabs are the best choices for you. Mumbai local is very complicated, unlike the Delhi metro. But, once you get used to it, you won’t opt any other option for one very simple reason – “It is very cheap”.

Tetrapods around Marine drive: The boulders you see at Marine Drive might have made you curious. In case you’re wondering what am I talking about, remember the climax of the movie Wake Up Sid? Yes, those rocks! They are actually tetrapods designed to keep strong waves from destroying the promenade.

Final words

Mumbai has something for everyone from canoodling couples to youngsters on yo-yo-honey mode to families out on a weekend stroll to avid travelers like us. Right from the Phoenix mall fun to the Marine Drive tranquility, everything was so amazing and crazy!

The whole vibe and feel of this city are matchless, it is both modern and traditional at heart. I don’t know exactly what but there’s something extremely desirable about this city that urges me to visit it again! Mr. host(Anil), When can we come again :P?

Lastly, I would say – “Pehla din ek dam raapchik tha, bidu!” 😀

Let us know how do you like this post by leaving a comment below and have a look at the next post on Mumbai Diaries!

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Written by

Swati Kurra