09 May 2009

Bombay and its suburbs as the locals know it

When my husband's mother first asked me “will you take me around Bombay?” I replied her a polite yes. But was not quite sure what is so distinct other than the crowds that would strike someone who lived in smaller towns most of her life.Years later when I sit back in a different country and think about the suburbs of Bombay and the city I realized that I was raised in one of the most exciting places of the world. The place that will stimulate all the senses of a human being, even those of the most lethargic ones.

Bombay and its suburbs create hyperactive and tired human beings who thinks that
running to get a local train is just a part of life.So anyone thinking about visiting India to get a bird's eye view about the country, you may want to visit Bombay. However a point to be noted is- Bombay is not like the rest of India, just like New York city and its adjacent boroughs and few towns that spill on to the other side of the river in New Jersey is not like the rest of United states.

Bombay is a fishermans village and is made of 7 islands. But nobody would recognize that now at first.It has become home to the people from across the seas who have taken refuge from wars, oppressive rulers, religious persecutors and people who come from the villages with dreams in their eyes and hope in their hearts.If anywhere else you won’t find work,here you sure will. These communities creates the rhythm and the breath of these islands called Bombay and its suburbs and a spirit called Resilience by force not by choice.

Satish at Bombay Lives links to the 100 things that one can see, and do in Bombay and its suburbs. My comment was getting longer and hence decided to link them here and add to the list.

1) sit on the steps at the Institute of Science at midnight and play the quiz "which foreign car?”. Well, 14 years ago it was a sight and fun.

2) go to bandra band stand if you want to meet the Eunuchs. Also a popular place for filmshootings.

3) climb the hillock near bandra band stand ( near the old sea rock hotel ) to get a free aerial view of the bay.

4) go to the Bombay natural history society at hornbill house to see free environmental movies (the lanes there were very quiet)

5) Go to Tardeo to see mansions of the Newspaper owners.(or just walk around to get the old feel of bombay )

6) The
mahakali caves near Andheri is a dilapidated one! ( dating back 2000 years ago) is not a safe place to visit.

7)Befriend a police {to know chapa chapa of the city (a slang used in bombay translated as 'everything'of the city} they will tell you who,where,what,when - the best guides of the city.

8) GO to Tata Institute of Fundamental Research to hear the waves and see some great paintings and sit in a cafeteria ( with high ceilings ) ( you have to get a student or an employee here )

9) Take the local to Vasai and Enjoy the Quiet vasai beach ( at 3′0 clock in the afternoon ) Have a beer and some fresh catch from the sea.

10) see the Byculla station ( 1857) perhaps the oldest station in the country. They also have a train yard – for all train lovers.

11) -
visit a 10th century temple in Ambernath.

12) Thane ..a city that borders bombay ( around 25 kilometers from bombay by train ) is called the lake city - Have fun boating !

13) See the Maharastrian Wadas ( old maharastrian houses in Kalyan in tilak chowk.(i am hoping they are not broken and converted into housing complexes !

14) Enjoy the Gulmohar trees and the green jungle in IIT Bombay (located on a hilltop) in summer. Behind the campus is one of the quietiest place in the city but it is gated and prohibited. But you may a take a chance if you know somebody at the IIT campus and not get caught by the local police. The road to NITIE is a green paradise. The IIT guesthouse has a nice view of the powai lake(you just have to ramble an old ID no and you can get in …)

15) EAT misal pav ( thackerachi jeevann !… i am kidding )and visit the shiv sena bhavan in dadar - ( you will get overwhelmed with the size of the tiger and the color orange !!)

16) Spent a day at a Police station as an observant.(you need special permission)

17) If you want a glimpse of a middle eastern country visit Mumbra,just outside Thane.

18) Do you want to get fresh vegetables for a bargain, go to the vegetable market at 5.oo am.

19) Visit the flower market at Dadar station, just a block or two away from Dadar railway station.

20) Befriend a Ticket Collector at VT station to get a free ride in an empty compartment of a long distance train. (this generally happens when the compartments are reserved for reservations from points such as dadar, kalyan, or Thane)

21) Watch the crowd at VT station during peak hours. You will see that people run in the opposite direction of a running train .

22) Look out to see giant artworks on the ground – it could be a picture of a Hindu god.

23) Visit Masjid, adjacent to VT – the mecca of shopping ( Malls are only a recent phenomenon). Each lane has its speciality – fabrics, electric , electronic parts, and more. There is nothing that you cannot get here.

24) Check out the houses built by the British near Kalyan railway station. They are used as quarters for the Railway employees.

25) A visit to Ulhasnagar is like visiting sindh in pakistan

26) Yum Yum biryani can be eaten in Byculla/Sandhurst Road . – Watch out the gap between the sandhurst road station and the train, otherwise you might slip in between the tracks.

27) The architecture of the Old age home of the parsis built inside the J.J compound is something to be marveled - Few such remain today.

28) If you feel a little more adventurous venture out to the airport in Kalyan. ( this is one of the things I have not yet seen)

29) The durga di kila ( a fort ) is also in Kalyan.

30) And if you are lucky, you could even manage to get to see Dawood Ibrahim’s mansion near Mahim Police station. – Chirag Din , the store owned by them has some very good shoes. I wonder if it is still there --

31)some of the bylanes of Bandra, is still like a village- narrow lanes with cottage like houses and you could spot a chicken coup and rabbits.

32)your turn now..

Bombay also greatly resembles to my current neighbor New York city and its boroughs and this is how I felt when I first got

It would also be great to know about the city that you love or live in - If you decide to write a post on it I will link you -just leave a comment.

This is not an exhaustive list.
Image : The quintessential Bombay - The dabbawala


Anonymous said...

Yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan... !

you just brushed some memories... !

Anonymous said...

lovely ones I might add ! I was born there.. !

BK Chowla said...

Yes,you have touched the reality of real Bombay.I can not forget when I landed in Bombay to start my career.It is history now.

manju said...

Anrosh, did my post make you homesick for Mumbai? I'm feeling guilty about that now!

Your post is an excellent introduction to the city for a newcomer and will make someone who has lived here feel nostalgic.

You know more about this city than I do, and I have lived here all my adult life. :)

Indyeah said...

aww...Like Manju said you are feeling homesick for Mumbai na?((((hugs))))

I went to Mumbai when I was a kid...that too I am not sure...I will have to ask ma again...but I have no memories of that trip...this post makes me yearn to go to Mumbai once atleast in my lifetime:))

your love for the city..shines through Anrosh:))

Anrosh said...

hitchwriter -- thanks..

bkchowla: bombay is an evolving city.

hi manju..thanks. that was the essence for this post. any newcomer or reader to know the city. when i was in college i used to go around the city quite a bit, coming back home very late - that is how i knew the city. also some of my work also required travelling to places that one normally would not do.

NY is also one such place. hence never felt homesick once i came here.

hi indyeah...i only felt out of place when i stayed in india in another part of the country and wanted to get out. i was planning to go back to bombay, when we decided to come to the US and we have stayed here ever since. i also linked another link, "hello new york".

of course manju's post on running for the 7:32 local reminded me of a long over due post.

Vinod_Sharma said...

Nice guide to Mumbai...the kind casual visitors like us never get to see! Come to think of it, I have been a Delhi for a long time, but do I really know much about the city first hand?

"Out of sight, out of mind" may apply to people but in the case of Mumbai, for you "distance makes the heart grow fonder"...I know that feeling very well and sometimes do get into those nostalgic moods about places I lived in when I was a kid and growing up.

Solilo said...

Mumbai is like LA. Those who lived there don't want to move anywhere. They feel like a fish out of water.

I have fond memories of Mumbai too.

Vinod_Sharma said...

That's what my sister says about LA too.

Smita said...

Pheew!!! that's a good list :-)

My fav place in Mumbai is Colaba Causeway for obvious reasons ;-)

5 AM for veggies...too much it is :D

sm said...

i will just say bombay is great city with great opportunies .

Ordinary Guy said...

Mumbai is one the greatest cities in the world and I have lived there for 4 years now.......
there is order in the chaos!!!! and people are helpful and it is the greatest......

Love dthe list, need to do a lot on that!!!

Anrosh said...

hi vinod -- i like to talk about the city, but i think i have still left out quite a bit -- like the synagogue and the jewish community in thane and many others.

Solilo -- is it because of the similarities of the glam factor that LA is associated with? -- hollywood and the likes and the making of the hindi movies/other mediums in bombay.

smitha -- colaba causeway transports one to another time of bombay..doesn't it?

sm --welcome.

ordinary guy - "Order in chaos" - nicely said.

Smita said...

Oh! yes it does...In fact I love Fort area as well...for some time my office was based at cuffe parade out there was completely different feel....

BTW I love Causeway for it's junk jewelery ;-)

Smitha said...

Wow! I have been to Mumbai several times, but have never lived there! But your post certainly brings some fond memories :)

Mumbaikar always said...

Its the Institute of Science that stands opposite the YWCA in South Bombay (not near VT) that I suppose you are talking of. A good 'bird's eye' view as you would call it, though obviously for some reason you have omitted the slums bordering the tracks, a visit to the biggest leather business centre Dharavi, wonderful places of interest like the Nehru Planterium etc. I am still to hear of an airport in Kalyan ???? Misal pav yes brings back some memories but the Chowpatty scene would evoke more than memories both in taste and smell !!! right. Bombay as I still love to call it (not Mumbai) is too complicated for any person to write or make a movie. No art form could aptly describe the throbbing sensation that it is. Let me leave it that way for the moment. My beloved Mumbai

Anrosh said...

smita -- it is almost more than a decade ago i was there -- i wrote all this out of memory - who can forget the junk jewellery -- and oh so big -- my pocket was empty - i couldn't buy.

hi smitha -- i think in india i can only stay in bombay.

hi mumbaikar -- thank you so much for telling me it is the institute of science - i'll go ahead and correct it.
the link -- 100 things to do in bombay has dharavi and nehru planetarium mentioned .

slums - it is somebody's house. they stay there because they cannot afford anything else. it is not a tourist thing to see - i don't think you will like if a stranger knocks at your door and says that they want to come in and see how you live - wouldn't that be rude and intruding?

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

we used to play 1 on our way back on the school bus here in Delhi. It was possible then but yes now it is like counting stars in the sky I guess.

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

for a non Mumbaikar many of these things seem impossible to do?

Anrosh said...

hello LVS:
play 1 ? don't know.
there are many ways to see anywhere
- 1) as the tourists do
2) as the locals or
3) a little bit of both
4) if you volunteer for NGO's there is nothing like knowing the locals -- especially in india, this is the way to know the pulse of the locals.
sometimes when i go i just like to sit at a place and watch the locals go by. it is such a relaxer.

Nisha said...

oh ! I am looking for some excuse now.

I haven't done even half of it. :-)

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