Sunday, March 31, 2013

Colaba one Saturday

If you stay in the suburbs of Mumbai, a visit to Colaba once in a while will be a much needed break. Leave home around 11 am, and you'll probably hit the Causeway by 12. I prefer taking a cab and not driving, as finding parking in South Bombay is a pain, and expensive as well. The ride is lovely, as you breeze through the sea link, the skyscrapers on the other side resembling a Manhattan skyline, I often wonder, the city looks good and glamorous from a distance, then reality hits when you're standing in the middle of a filthy street at the Worli sea face by the slums.

 bandra- worli sea link
(mumbai skyline as seen from Haji ali)

My mom had come from Bangalore for the weekend, and although she has lived in Bombay many years ago, she hadn't explored the city enough. (this is quite common among those who stay in the suburbs, they tend to not move around too far from home, except for going to their workplace. The lack of good transport and mismanaged traffic makes it very painful to commute from north to the south)
mario miranda illustrations on the plates and walls

We got down at Cafe Mondegar. The usp of this place is the beautiful murals by the late Mario Miranda. It's one of the more famous restaurants in this part of town, the building is very old and Victorian. A hot day, chilled beer. Feeling good already. I wish there was smooth jazz or golden oldies playing. Hip hop, does not go with the place. After a relaxed lunch we were all set to embark on the long walk down the causeway.

I stress on 'relaxed' cause you need to be very calm, and all fueled up for the next part of the journey. What Colaba is known for. The narrow mile long 'shopping' stretch where you negotiate through insane crowds, bargaining aunties, nagging hawkers and the odd stray dogs.
shopping at the Colaba causeway

If you are not looking for anything specific, you will be more to happy to pick up the random knick knacks that catch your fancy. Fake antiques- your clocks, compass, locks, watches and curios. Flimsy summer 'use n throw' clothing and footwear. Earrings, bracelets and accessories. After the first ten shops, you have probably seen what the rest of the hundred shops have to offer. They all sell the same stuff and they do look 'cheap'. Perfect for students with little budget.

 old mansions enroute the Gateway of India
But take the long route all the way round to the marina. The only part of Mumbai which has any character left when it comes to the architecture. The long stretch up to the Taj, has some beautiful colonial homes (some converted to hotels) with luxurious airy sea facing balconies, the high roofs and pillars. The road that goes all the way down to the Taj, is a lovely walking stretch. 

You can head to the Gateway of India. Better seen from a distance again. Very crowded and dirty up close.  Stop at the Starbucks at the Taj, for a cuppa. If you prefer the chic to the cheap, then check out  Bombay Electric and Good Earth. If your feets hurting after all that walk, try a massage at 'Suko Thai' also in the neighborhood.
Time to head back home, but first a stopover at the famous Haji Ali juice center at Worli. Try their falooda and kulfis. Ice cream with fresh fruit. My first giant bowl of fresh juicy mangoes for the season, yup- 'Mumbai summer' is officially on!
 hawkers at Haji Ali