MumBYE America, Hello India!
Our trip to India started way back in June, when I started planning for my Dad to visit my sister Claire after she was finished doing research at a prestigious lab doing groundbreaking experiments on Alzheimer’s #proudsister. Claire kept asking me if I was coming and I kept putting it off, I was tracking flights and seeing how my bank account was doing after working 12 hours a week for the past year. Finally, the travel bug (and opportunity) won over and I booked the flights.
Travel agent life meant that I planned most of the trip, Claire helped out with our Mumbai itinerary and some other details! Dad ended up coming to Maine for a few days before we headed to the East and I was able to change his flight to have him fly out of Boston with me (we left and landed in Mumbai within 10 minutes of each other on different airlines with different layovers!). However, tragedy struck in Doha, Qatar when I lost my phone in the airport during my transfer (or so I thought ... I’ll spare you the stress and panic that I had for the next few days and spoiler alert! It was in a hidden pocket in my bag and went through 3 separate security screenings where it was never caught).
Dad and I made it to Mumbai after about 20 hours of travel, not including the 5 hour drive from Maine! I flew Qatar Airlines which was super nice and the airplane food was not bad! Dad flew Emirates and had a similar experience so that was definitely a win. I found his plane which had landed shortly after mine and we went through customs and got our bags at about 3 am. We got to the hotel about 15 minutes later, checked in, woke up Claire who was already sleeping there, and promptly knocked out for a few hours.
Claire extended our schedule and allowed us to sleep in until 9:30 am, so we headed out into the grey city. She hailed us an auto-rickshaw (or simply, auto, as the locals call it) and we were quite shocked to hit the streets. Firstly, they drive on the opposite side of the road in India. Secondly, we were squished into this little electric vehicle with no doors! Thirdly, traffic and drivers are absolutely crazy and bold and horn-lovers. Truly, India makes Italy look super tame comparatively! We made it to the train station (with all legs, arms and hands still attached) and got tickets for the second part of our journey into Colaba - where Claire lived and worked. The train was also wicked packed but we splurged for the fancy first class tickets. It really was like a Bollywood movie with people hanging out of the cars and jumping on and off between stations.
We grabbed a taxi (changing it up) this time and headed to brunch at Colaba Social - one of Claire’s fave spots. She ordered our breakfast for us, highlights included Aloo Paratha (potato stuffed bread) egg bhurji (the Indian equivalent of scrambled eggs) and sali par edu (an Iranian dish with shredded potatoes and eggs). It was so spicy and so good and we felt fueled to take on our next stop - the Causeway.
it was an EGGcellent breakfast
The Causeway is a stretch of stalls and stores on a street with clothes, jewelry, scarves, souvenirs, shoes ... you name it, they probably have it on the Causeway! Claire showed us her true Indian bargaining skills and we got some pretty good prices for a shirt and pants for me, some jewelry and souvenirs for her.
From there, we took a break from the heat and hopped into the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (phew) Museum. We saw the exhibits - pro tip: the special exhibits are air conditioned and we definitely spent lots of time there!
leave India? Nahmaste (nah, imma stay)
It looked like it might rain, so we went to the Taj Palace Hotel to have some Masala Chai but unfortunately the tea room was having a buffet and we weren’t that hungry. We ended up going to the restaurant downstairs for tea instead. We popped across the street (ok risked our lives once again and dodged scooters and autos and cars) to see the Gateway to India ... just as it started to rain #monsoonseason! Luckily, it was a short storm and pretty much was over as soon as everyone’s umbrellas came out.
if at first you don't succeed, [chai] [chai] again
Claire took us to the YWCA where she lived during her 2 months there and said goodbye to two of her friends before we walked back to Marine Drive which is sort of the Promenade des Anglais equivalent in Mumbai. We grabbed another cab and went to dinner at Royal China for some delish Chinese food! Being in France and Maine for the past year meant I have been craving some authentic Asian food for some time now. After a dinner of dim sum, we took an Uber back to the Hotel and got some sleep before our early flight to the Maldives!
(As they say in India) Jai Hind 🇮🇳!