36 Hours in Bombay
On my last sourcing trip to India in December, I had the chance to visit Mumbai - or Bombay as many Indians still affectionately call the cosmopolitan metropolis on the edge of the Indian Ocean.
I booked a flight on IndiGo, India’s answer to JetBlue with sleek marketing and single class cabins. This was my first domestic flight within India and as soon as I reached the airport, I was faced with some of India’s quaint bureaucratic idiosyncrasies - I was not allowed to enter with the digital e-ticket on my phone. Instead, the guard tersely informed me with hand singles and harsh Hindi that I had to circle the airport and go to the office where I had to pay 100 Rs ($2) for a physical print out of my ticket. By this point I had approximately 3 minutes before the check-in cut off time so was frazzled as I raced back into the airport with my paper ticket. If my memory serves me well, it was not even 7AM yet and I had awoken at 5:30 to begin the mad rush to the airport (everything in India seems like a mad rush when stuck in traffic).
Once inside, security was a breeze and I was soon on the two and a half hour flight south to the home of Bollywood. I arrived to a welcome warmer climate than I had been experiencing up north in Delhi where the daytime temperature peaked in the low 70’s and fell to the 50’s in the evening (I even found myself making use of the fur coat that I had brought for the first leg of my trip to New York that I never imagined needing in India).
Bombay was instantly seductive - it’s tropical climate and palm-flanked roadways reminded me of Los Angeles. At the same time, its compact buildings and smaller roadways reminded me of a European city, less sprawling than Delhi.
As I had only 36 hours to experience as much as possible, our first stop was lunch at the Four Seasons. We hailed an ambassador taxi (the roaming cabs sans air-conditioning that charge by the meter) and took a trip across town on the Sea Link, an expansive modern cable bridge that stretches over the Mahim Bay connecting Bandra to downtown Bombay. This breath-taking drive across the Sea Link became one of my favorite things about the city.
For the price of a casual lunch in Los Angeles, Ridhima and I enjoyed an Eastern-fusion meal in the chic environs of the all-glass dining room. Lunch wrapped and we were back in an Ambassador to spend some time in Bandra. Right next to Ridhima’s flat was a beauty salon - and I never miss the opportunity to spend some pampering time in India where treatments are incomparably more affordable than anywhere at home. I had a rejuvenating hour-long head massage for the price of a manicure in New York.
Read more next week.