Bird house behind the main post office

Mumbai public library

Police headquarters

Gateway to India

Hotel Taj Mahal

Marine Drive on a cloudy day


Cafe Mondegar

Victoria Terminus

Old colonial buildings

Street life in Mumbai

Old factory building in Mumbai

Typical buildings towards the Mumbai suburbs

Overhead walkways

The Sea Link in the distance

Mount Mary church

Mount Mary church

Boardwalk in Bandra

Upscale apartment building in Bandra

Old mansion in Bandra

Bandra station

Locals fight for a spot on the train

Aboard the local railway

Grilled meat from Bademiya

Sleeper bus to Aurangabad

Mumbai, India

An Upgrade to Bangalore

July 27, 2013


How far you gonna go

Before you lose your way back home

You've been trying to throw your arms

Around the world

- U2

Mumbai was something totally different than I expected. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t seen any other major cities in India, only Bangalore. Bangalore lacks any real downtown area or city center and has a sprawling mass of inadequate roads seemingly laid out by a blind child. Cows roam through the city streets and piles of trash line the road as rickshaws, pedestrians, motorcylces, and cars fight for space on the roads. Mumbai, on the other hand, has sections of the city that are actually nice, relatively modern roads and distinct neighborhoods with many old colonial buildings that provide character. As the financial capital of India it certainly seems more developed than the IT capital that Bangalore is known as.

There is Marine Drive that runs along the edge of the city and the long promenade where Mumbaikers gather for views of the ocean. In Bandra, another seaside promenade passes just in front of famous Bollywood star Sharukh Khan’s house, as admirers wait outside for a glimpse. The newly constructed Sea Link connects Bandra with parts of South Mumbai, an impressive construction project that was finished in 2010. South Mumbai is the location of the famous Gateway of India, where the last British soldiers departed from India in 1948. This was also one of the sites of the 2008 terrorist attacks that resulted in 166 deaths and hundreds of injuries at the hands of the Lakshar-e-Taiba. Also targeted in this attack were the popular Leopold’s Café, where I stopped for a few drinks in the afternoon and the Victoria Terminus, an ornate gothic style train station.

For me the unique feeling about Mumbai was the depth and diversity of the city. The crumbling old colonial buildings have their own character and coupled with the modern Indian city life that makes for a special combination. The city is quite spread out and I spent a lot of time in a car traveling between one section and another. Looking out the window I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the density of life, colorful laundry hung out to dry in crumbling old buildings, modern developments, sleek metal elevated crosswalks, and a lack of rickshaws. In efforts to ease traffic, all auto-rickshaws are banned in south Mumbai. This results in a much nicer experience when moving about the city.

For many people cars are far too much of a luxury. The train system is very popular in Mumbai and with ticket prices of around 10 rupees it is easy to see why. Riding the local train in Mumbai is something similar to moving through a stampede. Before the trains even stop people are jumping on and off as there is a mad rush to just ensure your spot in the train car, let alone a seat. At peak times, I am told that this is unbearable and downright dangerous as mobs of people push you in any direction and you are literally carried with the crowd. Taking the train on a weekend was less dangerous but still an eye-opening experience. The train cars have no doors so you can see people standing by the doorway, hanging out of the train, watching the scenery and getting ready to hop off the train. Seeing this madness I was not surprised to discover that over 2,000 people die every year on these trains.

As enjoyable as my time was in the city, I unfortunately had to leave so soon. Before leaving Mumbai I enjoyed some delicious grilled meats at the famous Bademiya restaurant. It was a nice meal before boarding a strange, but oddly comfortable, sleeper bus for an overnight ride to Aurangabad.