Mumbai, Mumbai, Mumbai! It was in the afternoon a December day that we touched down in Mumbai. The heat, the people, the smell, the sound all hit us as we came out of the airport. We grabbed a prepaid taxi into the city and the Salvation Army hostel where we were gonna stay. An Indian friend of Sada’s had recommended the place for us so we’d decided to try it out. The drive to the hostel was insane. All the saftey rules we’re so accustomed to in the western world didn’t exist here and traffic was busy. Cars and rickshaws and motorbikes and cows and people were all using the same roads, however, somehow everyone seemed to mind their own business and look out for themselves and we didn’t see a crash nor were we involved in one. I remember looking at Sada saying that if we were meant to survive this we would and if not we wouldn’t. There was nothing we could do about it anyway, simple like that! My only philosophy was that it’d be best for us to go with the flow and do what the locals did in order for us to come out of here in one piece. I’m sure it must have taken countless generations of trial and error to develop the best practices for survival in such a fast paced environment as this.
We dumped our bags in the hostel dormitory and headed out for something to eat. Of course we went to the infamous Leopold cafe suffering a terror attack in 2008. Yes some bullet holes were still visible in the walls. We walked upstairs as the first floor was full with people and there were no free tables. The waitress gave us a table just up the stairs to the right by the window. It was cosy upstairs and a lot less people. I think I needed that to just sit back and beath and try to take it all in. So many impressions in so little time. Wow India was intense from the start.
We learned quickly that the hip Indians could be found in places like Starbucks whereas the poor Indians stayed in and around the markets. We loved the markets but then again we did go to Starbucks for a cheeky coffee as well.
The street food was something quite new and exotic for us, the parathas being made in the street over one of those half globe shaped ovens they had added authenticity to the place. The dough was made by the same guy in charge of the stand on a table next to the oven. He divided up the dough into smaller pieces in order to make several parathas out of the one big lump of dough that he’d prepared. A partaha at a time was then thrown casually across the top of the oven to stick perfectly over the rounded shape that was the cooking surface. The parathas looked something like flatbread but were a lot tastier. Were we in for a culinary experience in India?