Twenty-four hours is barely enough to scratch the surface of the sprawling, schizophrenic metropolis that is Mumbai. But if you are stuck here for a day, these are the highlights you should not miss.
Start downtown in Colaba, the epicenter of Mumbai?s must-see map. On this tiny strip of land that forms the city?s southernmost tip, you?ll find shopping shacks and shaded swimming pools, tourist traps and take-out, culture and kitsch.
Breakfast: Eggs Well Done
Even if you haven?t visited Indigo Deli before, you won?t feel like a stranger. The wood-paneled walls, half-read newspapers and international menu will make you feel at home before you begin exploring the strange and wonderful streets of Mumbai. Fortify yourself with Eggs Benedict, pancakes and excellent hash browns, strong coffee ? or a stiff G&T.
Indigo Deli, 4, Mandlik Road, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, call +9122 66368999.
See: Drawn Out Walk
Just past the bustling, sun-baked roads of Regal Circle lies the leafy stretch of Kala Ghoda (the Black Horse), broad, quiet and art-lined. Sample slivers of the Indian art scene at galleries like the Jehangir, or artisan coffee and culture-conversation at Samovar and the Kala Ghoda Caf?.
Jehangir Art Gallery and Samovar, Kala Ghoda, call +91222843989, open daily, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Kala Ghoda Caf?, Ropewalk Street, Kala Ghoda, +912222633866.
Buy: Shock Value
Bungalow 8 is a cross between a Maharaja?s estate and Ms. Haversham?s home in Great Expectations. Housed on three floors of a dilapidated building, it has retained the peeling, patchy walls and wide-beamed floors of the original structure, but embellished them with hand-carved marble ashtrays, silk tunics and 400 thread count sheets. Apart from exquisite home accessories and small furniture, the store also stocks a carefully curated line of clothes and some seriously lust-worthy costume jewelry. Prepare your credit card from some wear and tear.
To balance your splurging, tick off your remaining shopping list at the jumble of street stores on Colaba Causeway. Here, you?ll find everything from jewelry to handbags, T-shirts to souvenirs - but remember to bring your bargaining skills.
Bungalow 8, Grants Building, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba, call +9122819881.
South by North
Bandra, the boho northern suburb and popular expat neighborhood, should be where you spend the rest of your day.
Break up the hour-long, traffic-plagued ride with a lunch stop at Dakshinayan, where you?ll get authentic south Indian cuisine ? paper-thin rice crepes, steaming lentil soup, spicy condiments, cooling yogurt rice ? double quick. Expect to sit elbow to elbow with lunching ladies and hungry suits (and a polite nudge out the door if you?re dawdling over your plate). A meal for two will cost you under $10 USD.
Dakshinayan, 183, Teen Batti Road, Walkeshwar, open 11am-3pm and 6pm-11pm.
Buy: Seven Stitches for Seven Days
Now that you?ve managed to cross the Sea Link, your first stop on the other side should be Khar?s D-7, where you?ll find one designer for every day of the week, including some of the country?s biggest couturiers: Manish Arora, Namrata Joshipura, Rajesh Pratap Singh and more. We especially love Manish Arora?s kitschy threads and Rajesh Pratap Singh?s clean white palette.
If you?re working on a skinny budget, skip the tourist-traps of Linking Road market and comb through the slew of export stores. Our favorite is Dark Waters, a designer lair that stocks everything from Burberry and Chanel to DVF and Armani at super slashed rates (watch out for fakes, though).
D-7, Shop No. 1, Turning Point, Junction of 1st and 16th road, Khar (W).
See: Urban Villages
It?s hard to believe that 300-year-old villages, or gaothans, exist in a city that?s constantly aiming for the skies. Of these, the Chimbai Village and Pali Mala Road in Bandra have acquired heritage status, while Pali Village waits for a similar honor. Here, you?ll find Portuguese bungalows and quiet squares, all interconnected by narrow streets where kids play cricket.
Stroll through and soak in the lazy vibe, incongruous with Mumbai?s frantic pace. Stop by the super charming Pali Village Caf? for a slice of cheesecake and (hopefully) a Bollywood celebrity sighting.
Pali Village Cafe, next to Janata Bar and Restaurant, Pali Naka, Bandra (W), call +912226050401.
Dinner: Freshest Fish
In a suburb founded by Kohli fisher folk, leaving without eating pomfret fish is unpardonable. Drop in at Soul Fry, a great place to sample the state?s fiery coastal delicacies; Monday nights are best, when they mix curry with karaoke.
If seafood is not your thing, walk down to the seafront and get pita rolls stuffed with spicy butter chicken and cottage cheese at Maroosh. Well worth the weekend rush.
Soul Fry, Silver Croft, Bandra (W), call +9126046892; Maroosh, A/6, Gagangiri Apartment, Carter Road, Bandra (W), call +912226005584
In Bandra, you can party in shorts or a silk dress, and fit right in at both. Begin your night at Zenzi, where DJs from all around the world stop in for a gig. The living-room-like setup is casual and breezy, with cocktails to match.
If you?re willing to trek another 20 minutes north to Juhu, then Aurus, a plush beach bar with overpriced drinks and the most amazing chocolate fondant, is a great place to hang. With white couches, plenty of eye candy and a panoramic view of the sea, it?s one of the prettiest little corners of this Maximum City. Have a drink, and promise yourself you?ll come back for a longer visit next time.
Zenzi, RK Patkar Marg, Waterfield Road, Bandra, call +912266430670
My friend went to Hong Kong and all he got me was this lousy T-shirt, antique Buddha head and indie rock album. My friend went to Hong Kong and all he got me was this lousy T-shirt, antique Buddha head and indie rock album. "I ? Hong Kong" T-shirt Ladies' Market Any of Hong Kong's famed street markets will offer a whole range of cheesy tourist...Read More
Mumbai is suddenly waking up to the idea of street art. In the past couple of years, the city has served as a canvas for laser graffiti and antiterrorist expressionism, wall murals and outdoor music concerts. The most recent of these is BlowUp Bombay, a photo exhibit that took place on Saturday, May 22, at a boho heritage village in Bandra, where peeling walls and century-old homes were papered with over 3,000 prints taken by photographers both professional and untrained.
The exhibit started at the opening of a tiny lane with clich?d shots of local trains and street-kid portraits. Further down, an artist painted under a Banyan tree and a photographer refused to disclose the locations of secret Indian beaches he?d shot. But, there were aspects of the show that we loved even more than the actual photos: the fact that we could take any print we liked for free. Our acquisition: a tri-series of bicycles in sepia tones.
BlowUp Bombay was organized by Blind Boys, an online Asian photography magazine. The event was attended by a diverse crowd of expats and locals, art buffs and casual passersby who mingled with residents of the ancient colony, whose lives ? despite the art invasion ?went on as usual: an old lady walked her dog, jazz drummed out from a cottage, kids played cricket, and a group of men caught a game of cards in what used to be a telephone booth.
In an adjoining open field, we caught an interesting series on the evolution of Independence Rock, Mumbai?s oldest music festival; Alone Together, a stunning collection shot by well-known supermodel Sheetal Mallar, who uses light and shadows to document Mumbai?s lonely souls; and Suburbia, a professional photographer?s picture stories of life in the big city. Her poignant shot of black stilettos lying on pink garbage can was one of the best prints in the exhibit.
On our way out, we ran into Akshay Mahajan from Blind Boys, who explained that they had organized similar events in Delhi and Paris, and hoped that BlowUp Bombay would soon turn into a monthly affair. Maybe next time around, we?ll join the clique of city photographers and show our love, too.
Immigrant enclave turned rock and roll art hub, the Lower East Side, sandwiched between Chinatown and the East Village in lower Manhattan, was recently named New York magazine?s #2 Best Neighborhood to live in. It?s come a long way from its seedy roots, but a unique edginess still prevails. Old tenement buildings house some of the city?s coolest boutiques, bars and eateries. Come watch the cool kids, pick up a few things you won?t find anywhere else, and fall in love.
These days in New York, if there?s a bearded gent on staff ? you know you?ve come to the right place. If he?s wearing a chambray shirt and there are a few Jim Jarmusch-look-alikes in the crowd ? you better make a reservation. Which is the case at Macao Trading Co., located on the cusp of Chinatown and Tribeca on Church near Canal Street, a relatively desolate intersection after dusk, spotted by only a few of the ?Rolex-Rolex-Louis-Vuitton? vendors trying to make that last black-market buck. Thanks to a cancellation, one of my best girlfriends and I were able to get a table for two during prime Friday-night dining time.
Bar photo credit : Hannah Whitaker
I have a confession. I went to the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens during a spell of what I?d to believe was temporary amnesia. I trooped to the Hong Kong Stadium at Causeway Bay ? despite my annual post-Sevens vow that I will NOT endure another year of the wheat-stenched South Stand (the stadium?s hooligan headquarters) madness, which includes urine-filled beer jugs flailing about, indecent exposure and a whole lot of drunken debauchery from expats and tourists alike.
In Hong Kong, the Rugby Sevens is to men what Halloween is to women. The female wardrobe du jour (a sweeping generalization) fell into a few categories: cheerleader, air hostess, tutu-dressed-something, discount-Avatar, and the curious choice of Where?s Waldo. But the men dominated the dress-up game with through-the-roof effort. I saw everything from Steve Erwin, the boys from The Hangover movie, pharaohs, an Arab sheikh, an iPhone, sushi, TinTin and Top Gear?s The Stig, to the Mad Hatter and a cross-dressed Alice in Wonderland, Tiger Woods, Care Bears, and Mao Zedong. To say the least, it was an impressive turnout. What was more interesting was how the costumed Sevens zealots were a living, breathing ?year in review.? (Case in point, ?Tiger Woods? was humping every girl he encountered. Slightly crude behavior aside, you can?t deny their wit.)
Frankly, I?m not too sure where this dress-up phenomenon began. How did dressing in your country?s color evolve/devolve into a fancy-dress wildcard spectacle? But, as they say, if you can?t beat them, join them.
P.S. ? I went as Farmer Joe. Better yet, someone asked my friend and I, ?Are you Paris and Nicole from The Simple Life?? Psssssh ?. !
Visit www.hksevens.com for details.
Served in dainty Sevres cups and chipped grimy glasses, featured on leather bound menus and at street stalls, hot, milky tea spiced with cardamom, black pepper and sometimes even saffron, is one of the most ubiquitous motifs of Mumbai?s urban landscape.
We recently stumbled across a unique avatar of this city classic at Bombay Electric, one of the city?s hippest, most upscale fashion stores: Masala Tees, cotton T-shirts that come adorably packed in actual ?tea bags.? Embellished with traditional Indian portraits and strategically placed Swarovski crystals, these are available in colors just right for spring: mustard, grey and, of course, hot pink ? India?s answer to navy.
Masala Tees are designed by Sheikha Mattar-Jacob and Noelline Besson, expats from Singapore and France respectively. They succeed at a formula that many attempt, but few in India get right: combining distinctly traditional elements into a garment that is truly contemporary. These form-fitting T-shirts are a great way to add a little bit of India to your wardrobe without the draping hassles and excessive yards of cloth that so often accompany garments from the Subcontinent.
Better yet, Masala Tees are made from organic fabric (another big trend currently gripping Mumbai), and proceeds from sales often go toward one of several causes the designers support, like women?s issues and sustainable businesses.
Click here to view the collection.