“This is not India. There are people here from every part of India, but Bombay isn't India. Bombay is an own-world, a world in itself. The real India is out there.” Gregory David Roberts Shantaram
I fell in love with Bombay.
I was sore from the flight. My knee had not yet been operated on and I was in serious trouble, having to use a wheelchair on and off the flights. But I knew I was going to love it even before we landed. The amazing colour of blue, blue roofs of the millions of people housed in slums from the air, was hopeful and charming. I couldn't wait to taste my first trip to India.
I did have to wait for 24 hours for some crutches. So I was alone for the very first day as the group (of course) were off exploring immediately. It was time to sit at my window and watch Bombay do it's amazing thing! What a cacophony of noise. Endless traffic. Colours. Smells, (good and bad), screeching voices, laughter, people. More people. More people. It wasn't the worst thing to have to watch the world go by.
Bombay is of course now known as Mumbai. But there is the old part of Mumbai that is still referred to as Bombay and it is charming in so many ways. Mumbai is a big urban city just like any other world city with its designer shops and wide thoroughfares. But Bombay is on the water's edge, it's architecture is beautiful and crumbling yet majestic. And of course the ever present Taj Mahal Hotel can be seen from almost everywhere. The Eye of India can also be seen from afar, even with the thronging crowds.
Sunday afternoon we do high tea at the completely stunning Taj Mahal Hotel. What an elegant pleasure. I sit at the table being served by my friend (due to the no crutches and leg issue) and treat after gorgeous treat is delivered. (Thanks Victoria.) I'm feeling my colonial roots.
One day we take a ferry to see the famed Elephanta Caves. It is terrifying. There is no such thing as occ health and safety and the over crowded ferry leans at an alarming angle, I can literally put my hand in the water as we chug through the filthy water, but I don't. I joke (but I'm not joking) that the news headline will be; Australians missing in Bombay ferry sinking. Feared drowned. But we would have died from being in that water way before drowning. The Elephanta Caves required a 1000 stair climb. Yep. I did that. On crutches. But once up there, I realised I wasn't getting back down even with crutches! (Find that pic for a good laugh.) $40 Aussie later!!! Also a terrifying ride down the mountain, 4 poor little lean men, wearing sandals on very uneven stairs. Death was likely at every step!
So why did I love Bombay?
I want the pictures to tell the story. The food, both street food like the world famous Bademiyas kebabs, or Dhakshinaya, a tiny homestyle restaurant for the best dosa, or the elegant Jia for seriously one of the most amazing meals of my entire life, will stay with me forever. The markets, flowers, fish, textiles, food, veggies, fruit. All my senses were on overload.
The resilient people will also stay in my heart and my memory. I saw a lot of men on crutches. And they noticed me because I was one of them. There were some toothy grins and exchanges. But I had two legs. It was noted on several occasions with huge laughter and much back slapping. So funny and so charming. The children with their huge dark eyes and their colourful attire. The smiles. Smiles and optimism everywhere.
Bombay dreaming. It's a saying. And I understand it. I will be back Bombay.
For more information about future trips head over to Spice Mama and while you're dreaming, check out some of Shaheens beautiful recipes!
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Tenina Holder is a wife, mother of five and grandmother, who started cooking in the olden days before Thermomix was even a thing.
Tenina has become the premium go to source for all Thermomix expertise and of course fresh and easy recipes that work. Her cooking classes and foodie trips are sold out in literally hours, her cookbooks appear on the Australian best seller lists and her social reach is in the millions. She believes chocolate, butter and salt are health foods. Her food positivity mantra is, eat everything, just not all at once!