I suppose out of all the trips we, as in my roommates and I, made, the trip to Mumbai was the most sane and well organized experience. Well before you begin thinking, oh! finally the girls learnt their lesson, think again! Old habits die hard:-) This trip was taken care by my dad to be more precise, his PA. After getting back to Hyd on Jan 4, 09, from our vacations, we decided to kick start the new year with the Mumbai trip. So, we left on Jan 8, 2009, by train. In train we met a fellow Googler, who travels almost every weekend, so we had a great time listening to his adventures and taking travel tips and destinations from him.
We reached Mumbai by 5 am in the morning and we had a staff car and 2 army men from my dad’s unit waiting to receive us. We stayed at an army mess at Santa Cruz and began our 4 day travel-cum- shopping extravaganza with a visit to the Gateway of India and the Taj hotel. We saw the Taj just after a month of the terror attack and relived all the sad memories, which we saw on news channels. Even after what the Taj, had witnessed it was magnificent and its glory to look at. From the Gateway Of India we took a steamer to the Elephanta caves, which is an island 1 hour away from Mumbai. It has a lot of ruins and caves. It was afternoon by the time we returned to Gateway Of India, we proceeded to an Army Infantry mess at Colaba, which was close by. After lunch, we went to the naval base, where we first saw a decommissioned ship called IMS Vikrant (IMS- Indian Museum Ship) as the name suggests it is a ship converted into a museum. The ship was enormous and all the equipment it carried was pretty exciting to view. After visiting the IMS Vikrant we came to the highlight of the trip, I am sure Saranya and Sruthi will agree with me when I say this, we went on board one of the coolest and the latest naval submarines. It was an experience of a lifetime for all of us. The submarine has lot of space restriction and the atmosphere is so suffocating that I cannot begin to imagine how the naval marines survive in such conditions for 120-150 days at a stretch protecting our nation and us. The submarine has 3 tiers. The naval men stay in 2 out of the 3 tiers, so when you get down to the 2nd and 3rd tier you go through this hollow pipe with close to 100 steps to climb from floor 2 and 3 upwards. It is so scary to climb the rung ladders!! After the awesome submarine experience we went onboard INS Godavari, which is one of the Indian Naval Fleet’s most advanced war ships, it was majestic and it carries the very effective Barrack missiles. By the time we finished with the naval fleet, it was evening and when we got back to our mess where we were staying it was 8 pm. The Mumbai traffic is crazy! You are stuck in jams for hours together. We ventured to meet my roommates friend who stays in Mumbai, that night, we thought we could take the train or the rick, but the people who were hosting us would not hear us. They sent us in an army vehicle with a back up vehicle for security with a guard carrying a rifle. Sru, Saru and me asked ourselves was the ammunition to protect us in the night or to protect the driver and co-driver from us :-P. We went to Hard Rock Café, which is at lower Parel and trust me this one @ Mumbai is huge and the ambience was awesome, it was super crowded as it was a Saturday, but never the less.
We started this day with a little pilgrimage to the Sidhivinayak temple, the Mahalakshmi temple and the Haaji Ali. Later we went shopping in Bandra which was crazy! We picked up 14 pairs of footwear and quite a few bags. I’ ll let you in on a feedback though, the footwear bought @Mumbai sucked! We lost close to 7 footwear within 1 month. We saw this very interesting gola guy who called himself ‘Gogola’ and had a very cool marketing strategy (pics of this attached in the trip slide show) he has copied the Google search page on his push cart and rechristened it Gogola. We returned back to the mess where we stayed, later in the evening we went to the Inorbit mall which din’ t impress us much considering that we see only malls at Bangalore. Later we went for dinner to this really cool Chinese restaurant at Bandra and went for midnight coffee at the CCD in Band-stand. It is quite true when people say Mumbai never sleeps.
We left for Khandala and Lonavala, these are the two hills retreats about 2 hours from Mumbai situated en route to Pune. The roads are fabulous, it is an express highway and has loads of tunnels. We bought a lot of chikki and the famous fudges from Lonavala, then we went to visit the Tiger point which offers the topmost view of Khandala and Lonavala. Both these places have numerous farmhouses. We also visited the Lonavala lake and a park in Khandala. On our way back we went to the Walwahan dam, where the Tata power is manufactured. We had a picnic for lunch on the side of the highway which was great fun. We returned back to Mumbai by 4pm and went to the Chowpathi at Juhu for some chaat, pav bhaji and falooda. They were so tasty and really cheap! We decided to call it an early night and returned back by 8.30 pm. We couldn’t take an organized arrangement of getting food and vehicle at our disposal anytime, any longer, so me and Sruthi decided to take a walk around the place nad explore Mumbai in our style. Saru said that she was beat and dropped out. Sruthi and me came out and decided to fulfil our wish to travel by the local train. We went to the closest station, and decided to go to Colaba and visit Café Leopold. The train arrived at 10.20 and took 40 mins to reach Church Gate. We were so kicked about the local train, from there we took a taxi and gave him rough directions to Café Leopold, he initially did not know where it was but later, we navigated fine. Café Leo was an experience, it has not got the comfy sofas, music and classy ambience, but it has something in it, that attracts a lot of expats. People hang around in night clothes too. We shared a pasta and were amused by the tubes that people were drinking. They were 3 feet high jars with close to 5 litres of beer in them. It was 12 by the time we came out and tried to find a bus which would take us somewhere close to Santa Cruz, we walked till the bus stop, waited but ran out of luck. There was this old-lunatic-drunk man who was abusing us, so we decided to take the taxi. The taxi ride was one of the best experiences of the trip, the guy zipped through the city at top speed, the Marine drive looked beautiful. We reached our place in 20 mins which was super fast. Next day morning Sruthi and me got up to severe head aches and Saranya’s abuses that we ‘ditched’ her and went out in the train and to Café Leo, our only saving grace was that we bought a nice mug for her from there to pacify her.
We did some more shopping and then came the came the nightmarish task of packing all our shopping, Sruthi the ‘5 mins pack all’ expert took over and helped us out. We boarded the night train to Hyd from the Mumbai CST which looked so pretty in the night. It again reminded us of the recent terror attacks and the shoot out.
To sum it up, the trip was well organized, without any glitches, however, it caused a big dent in our valets for the rest of the month due to the amount we shopped. I definitely have great memories of the trip and loads of pics. We had our quota of adventure too.