Bombay : being a tourist in my home city

A lot of people ask me why I’d want to move back to Europe and my answer is very clear: for the museums, art, and the beer. I moved back to Bombay a year ago and have barely hit the social scene so far. My sister tried to get me to go out before she moved to London, but something just didn’t click until last weekend. I decided to do something different and it was a pretty cool experience! I went around Bombay like I did back in Europe – yes, like a cheesy, excited tourist 🙂

I didn’t wake up on time and was super hungry by the time I got ready to step out. The original plan was to set out early and watch the sun rise over the sea. Well, I headed straight to breakfast. Since this was a local transport only outing, I took the bus –

Nothing screams Bombay like breakfast at a good old Irani café. Since Yazdani is closed on Sundays, I decided to head over to Kyani & Co. which in the street next to Furtados, opposite Metro cinema.

A vegetarian has no business in a Parsi / Irani restaurant but I decided to try my luck. I got offered vegetarian dhansak but I decided to opt for a veg cutlet, irani chai, and the good old bun-maska. Oh, they also have a bakery in case you want to take some goodies home 🙂

Next up, I took a cab ride to the Jehangir Art Gallery opposite Regal Cinema. The original plan was to go to the Prince of Wales Museum (now known as CSM Vastu Sangrahalaya) next door. I didn’t have enough time, but I did check out the photo exhibition at the gallery.

Last week, I ran the BSE Bull Run and crossed the Asiatic Library (the Townhall) on the way. I remembered going up there when I was in school and decided that I needed a picture. Also, one of my favorite scenes from Jaane Tu.. involves Imran Khan riding a horse on this road ♥

Bookstores became more commercial and less about the books when Crossword opened up in India. I always thought that the staff had no idea what they were selling. Though I don’t like the movie You’ve Got Mail, I agree with Meg Ryan that discount stores are killing the idea of raising good readers. Well, Wayword & Wise is my Indian Shakespeare & Co. Stop by and talk to the owner – he really knows his books!

I spent way too much time at Wayword & Wise to make it to the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla. I did go there but changed my mind when I saw that it was a really long walk to the entrance and area didn’t look too safe / good. I decided to come back another day and headed straight to Bandra, coz well I was starving!

My first solo trip to Lille in December 2014 needed an anniversary celebration and Doollaly was the perfect tribute. Farmhouse Ale made the Flanders way was sheer heaven and the fries were typisch (as we Germans call it) Belgian! Ooh-la-la ♣ ♣ ♣

I found out about street art in Bombay about 6 months ago. I wanted to do a photo shoot with my sister but we never got around to it. Turns out, Chapel Road is a 5 minute walk from Doollaly and definitely worth taking a detour for 🙂

Tired after a long day, I headed home after this for a regional movie and some well deserved sleep.

I am going to do this again because it was such great fun. I will come up with a better, organized plan and actually step inside a museum! 🙂 🙂


Benaras: Sunset and Sunrise on the Ghats

When my sister had to convince me to join them on this trip, all she said to me was – Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. I wasn’t sure why she said that cause it remains the worst movie we’ve watched together. “The Ghats, Di!” she squealed in delight. “Don’t you want to see them?” To be honest, I didn’t because of the overly zealous religious rites that happen to be their main attraction. But a few hours later I was holding an electronic ticket to Varanasi.

In my last post, I talked about my first impressions of Benaras. The ghats are a whole different deal. A ‘ghat’ is a set of steps leading to the banks of a river; in the case of Varanasi, it is the holy river Ganga. There are a total of 87 ghats in Benaras – most of them are for bathing and worship, and a few exclusively for cremation rites. While some are privately owned, there are others owned by Marathas, Holkars, Scindias, and the likes. If you take a boat ride, you can see all their names painted on the walls at the top of the steps.

Dashashwamedh Ghat which is next to Meer Ghat (where we stayed) is closest to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Every evening at about 6:30, the pandits offer a prayer to Lord Shiva, the river Ganga, and the Universe. It is a spectacular sight to behold. Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat are the two cremation sites. Many Hindus believe that the soul will obtain salvation if they are cremated here. As many as 80 bodies are cremated here every day. As per Hindu code, sadhus (holy men) are neither buried nor cremated. Their bodies are usually let into the river. This is why you may occasionally see floating corpses in the river Ganga.

Don’t be alarmed by all this information. I was bit overwhelmed too. But once you get there, you’ll see that it is not all bad. It is totally worthwhile to take a boat ride at sunrise or sunset for beautiful photo opportunities. It costs about Rs.150 per person. There were five of us and the hotel arranged an exclusive motorboat for us at Rs. 600. The boatman will give you sparse information about the ghats. It doesn’t take very long to cover them all. An hour should be plenty of time for a round and a half. Be sure to catch the evening Ganga Arati from the boats to avoid the crowd on the ghat. In the morning, the ghats are empty and you can most definitely take a walk (if not a boat ride). The chai (tea) at Dashashwamedh ghat is quite delicious.

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