Ben Basmatti in Bombay

19 Jan

, originally uploaded by benaston.

Our trip to Bombay was short and sweet (ish). We’d never planned to stay long, and after a day, we’d had our fill of it. Although everything is written as Mumbai, everyone here seems to be calling it Bombay. So I am too, it’s more colonial, if nothing else.

Getting here was pretty good. After a nice BA flight which was empty enough to allow us the luxury of sleeping in our own row of seats, we landed in Bombay in the middle of the night. We stayed in a suburb close to the airport, Juhu Beach where Oprah who was also in town, has a pad. The hotel, Juhu Residence Boutique Hotel was good, but I’m not sure what Oprah sees in the place. Juhu doesn’t really seem to have much going for it apart from two cultural highlights – Cinnabon (that was where Bombay was sweet) and Dominoes, which we indulged in dutifully.

I don’t feel that we got to see that much of Bombay – we took a taxi to the Gateway of India and walked the streets around Colaba and bought some clothes, but got bored of being hassled pretty quickly. We took a pit stop at Leopolds which apparently features heavily in the Bombay-based book Shantaram – the autobiography of an escaped Australian convict who makes a colourful life for himself in Bombay. As luck would have it, the author, Gregory David Roberts was there signing books so we bought his enormous encyclopaedic book for Rebecca to amuse herself with for our trip.

And then all we had time for was the taxi back to the hotel via Chapatti Beach which took a couple of hours. That was painful. And noisy. Then some dodgey street food at Juhu beach and it was time for bed.

Apparently, if you don’t like Bombay, you don’t ‘get’ it. That’s according to Lonely Planet so it must be true. So I have to concede, I don’t ‘get’ it. At least if ‘getting it’ is anything much other than lots of traffic, honking, and odd smells.

What I do ‘get’ though is the bottom shower; this has been the real highlight for me – far more efficient than a bidet, and very useful when your diet requires regular use of the toilet.

Next stop Udaipur.

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