Mumbai is Muggy
Trip Start Mar 29, 2007
74Trip End Sep 30, 2009
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Where I stayed
Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the most populous city of India, and by some measures the most populous city in the world with an estimated metro population of over 14 million people
(1) Mumbai, India 29,434/kmē (76,234/sq mi)
(2) Kolkata, India 24,760/kmē (64,128/sq mi)
(3) Chennai, India 24,231/kmē (62,758/sq mi)
(4) Bangalore, India 26,719/kmē (69,202/sq mi)
(5) Dhaka, Bangladesh 14,608/kmē (37,835/sq mi)
(6) Hyderabad, India 14,192/kmē (36,757/sq mi).....Where I live!!! Woo hoo!
(7) Nagpur, India 12,300/kmē (31,857/sq mi)
(8) Delhi, India 9,339/kmē (24,188/sq mi)
(9) Pune, India 8,733/kmē (22,618/sq mi)
(10) Ahmedabad, India 4,107/kmē (10,637/sq mi)
Anyway...it's some place I definitely wanted to check out as you really can't visit India without visiting it's largest, most cosmopolitan city
I woke up god awful early Friday morning after our Thursday night company party to catch an early morning Kingfisher Airlines flight direct to Mumbai. I love this airline. Most of you reading this know that flying domestic in the States sucks...you are essentially treated like baggage and/or bus passengers. When it comes to flying a local airline abroad, I've experienced some amazing flight experiences, but Kingfisher is definitely close to the top if not on the top. The airline is owned and operated by Vijay Mallya who is sometimes called the "King of Good Times". Yes this is also the same guy also who is in a leadership role of the corporate entity that owns Kingfisher beer which is India's number one selling beer. He takes his "good times" description to heart and includes it in how he treats his passengers. The flight to Mumbai is only 1 hour...but on that flight you get: 1) an in-flight vanity kit, 2) seat-back Satellite TV, 3) a hot meal and 4) the opportunity to be served by some of the nicest stewardess this side of Singapore Airlines. They actually call their stewardess's "air models"....and the name fits
Anyway...upon arriving in Mumbai I'm smacked hard in the face by the humidity...it's about the same temp here as in Hyderabad but because we're now seaside...the humidity is a killer. My hotel (Hotel Leela) has arranged a pickup and within 15 minutes I'm in the executive lounge sipping a glass of champagne while my room is prepared...nice. The room is very comfortable and after unpacking I have some lunch which was a real, honest-to-God hamburger!!! Red meat for the first time in weeks!!! After scarfing down the burger, I start looking for a way to hire a car and driver for the day. Once again I'm smacked hard in the face...but this time by the difference in cost between Hyderabad and Mumbai. The hotel quotes a rate of 5000 rupees to hire one of their cars for the day...or about $120 USD...for one day!!! After I recover from my panic attack I get the concierge to admit that it's possible to also hire an air-conditioned taxi for about 1500 rupees for the day...sold! My driver (Ali) and I depart our hotel which is close to the airport to the city center which is a good hour away in light traffic...don't get me started on how long it takes in heavy traffic
My main tourists stops include the famous Dhobi Gaht open air laundries where nearly half the city has it's laundry done on a daily basis. Basically the laundry consists of row after row of concrete wash pens, each with its own flogging stone. The laundry guy/gal (the Dhobi) sloshes dirty linen into a soapy water mixture, beats the crap out of the clothes with the flogging stones, and then puts the linen into huge vats of starch. After they are dried, they are ironed and delivered to the owners. There were also some kids that were bathing in the laundry vats...I only hope in a different vat then was used to wash clothes in. I was pretty much the only non-local walking around this area and as I was walking up some stairs to get back to street level, some kid starts asking me for money. I can handle beggars...no problem...I just ignore them for the most part. But this kid does something a bit different that caused me to react a bit harsh. He suddenly grabs my leg and won't let go...I summon up one of the harshest, deepest, loudest voices I've ever heard come out of my mouth and tell him to get off me. He does...but evidently my satan voice has scared all of the other locals around me and everyone is looking at me with fear in their eyes. For the remainder of the walk up the stairway, I've given about a 5 foot buffer-zone by everyone near me. I might have to break out that voice again sometime
Saturday and Sunday were spent all day working and interviewing candidates. It was actually fun...but after the 20th person on both days I was getting a bit tired of asking the same questions over and over. So I started to get a little creative and I think I caught a few candidates off guard. Lunch on both days was at the hotel buffet which was really amazing...I definitely gained some weight and scarfed down some great "western-style" foods including prime rib, salads, pastas, etc
Monday morning the rest of the recruiting team catch early flights back to Hyderabad...but I decide to stick around one more day and night to relax and see some more sites around the city. I get up late, go workout, get a massage at the hotel and finally around 3PM call my driver Ali and catch a ride down to southern tip of the city. I walk around the Gateway again where I stand out as the only white guy with a camera. Some of the local tourists want me to take their picture so I oblige. For some reason big balloons are popular tourist items down here and I'm harassed but no less than 8 guys selling balloons. As it's getting close to sunset, I went to Leopolds and grabbed a couple beers to go and head over to Nariman point which really is the tip of the peninsula. Nariman point has the distinction of having one of the highest commercial real estate rental space in the world over $450 USD$ per sq ft in 2006. Anyway...I sit back, drink my beers and enjoy the sunset with a great view of Marine Drive and a beautiful sunset. Marine Drive by the way is the main "waterfront" road that borders the water and is nicknamed the "Queens Necklace" by how it appears to be lined by glowing pearls when the street lights are lit up at night. My pictures won't do it justice...but it's nice. As it's now after 6PM, traffic back north to the hotel is in full rush-hour swing and the drive takes 2 hours to go maybe 20 miles...that's one part of Mumbai I won't miss.
Anyway...it was a great weekend getaway and I hope to have several more to report on soon.