Breakfast in Bombay

I have been in India for three months now and have still not seen one Bollywood movie. So naturally I was skeptical of missing out on something this weekend when I visited Mumbai, the infamous home of India’s booming film industry.  It seemed kind of like visiting Los Angeles with no prior exposure to or interest in Hollywood – what’s the point?

But upon landing I quickly recanted my error. Just as with Los Angeles, I soon realized that there was much more to Mumbai than the glamor of its film industry (though this undertone was undoubtedly present in many places). It is India’s largest city, central trading hub, and commercial capital as well. There are beautiful coastlines, massive seaports, and bustling marketplaces. More than any other city I have visited in India, this was perhaps the hardest to categorize because of its versatility.

Mumbai harbor at sunset

The first day we ventured to the Gateway of India, a central area known well for its great food and colonial architecture. From here we ferried out to the Elephanta Islands where, to our disappointment, there were no elephants. There were, however, some remarkable cave temples that dated back almost two millennia. That night we checked out Juhu Beach, where we were offered everything from carnival rides to full body massages to a dancing monkey show. Yes, we paid to see the monkey dance, and yes, the monkey had moves.

Gateway of India

A monkey at Elephanta Island (not the one that danced)

Day 2 we walked around some marketplaces then, at night, took a horse buggy around the scenic Queen’s Necklace marine drive. After that we checked out the local nightlife scene and found an awesome bar where we could be merry and socialize with locals. The last day we walked more around the neighborhood where we were staying, sat and watched at a cricket match for a while, and relaxed in anticipation of our flight home.

It was a nice trip, but it was also nice to get back to Delhi. I have come to grow extremely fond of this city. While Mumbai proves difficult to categorize because it reminds me of so many other cities, Delhi is the same way because I have still yet to find any accurate comparison. Its uniqueness is what draws me to it, and after three weekends of extended travel, it feels good to be back. It is hard to believe I only have one month left.