Monday, 19 March 2018

Maximum City - 48 Hours In Mumbai


I was planning to write about our weekend of vintage selling but the weather put paid to that. Saturday's fair at Walthamstow (where the above photo was taken) was pretty good considering the hideous temperatures, incessant snow showers and the Met Office severe weather warnings but yesterday's fair at Moseley had to be postponed until April after most of us got up and discovered that we were snowed in. Come on Spring!


I thought I'd share a few photos from our trip to Mumbai instead, although India's heat and humidity seem but a dim and distant memory today. The sweat dribbling down my back and my hair clinging to my shoulders like seaweed is in stark contrast as I sit here with the wood burner crackling away  & looking out on a garden swathed in a blanket of white.



We stayed at Moti International, an elegantly crumbling, ramshackle Colonial-era family mansion a stone's throw from the Gateway of India which you may remember was our base a couple of years ago. Despite being in the heart of bustling Colaba, owner Mr Raj (who occupies the top two floors with his family) is a passionate gardener and his collection of lush potted palms helped filter out most of the traffic noise. Jon & I loved helping ourselves to an ice-cold Kingfisher from the communal fridge in the hallway and sitting on the marble steps, watching the madness of Mumbai unfold before our eyes.


We took a room on the first floor because Jon loved the drama of the rickety wooden staircase.


We'd spent the previous three weeks in Goa and only had a couple of days in Mumbai before our flight home but, as always, we managed to pack loads into those 48 hours. Our flight landed at 7am and, after a quick stop for a breakfast of Parsi-style scrambled eggs (with chilli and green mango), we headed to Sassoon Docks to watch the Marathi fishermen unloading the morning's catch from the boats. The women squatted on their haunches in circles, gossiping and tossing the freshly gutted fish into straw baskets whilst well-fed cats prowled around, feasting on fish guts and mewling for more. Because the area is a port, photography wasn't allowed but we did take the picture above - all that remained of a recent arts festival in the city.


Street cats! We're always amazed at how friendly and well-fed the moggies of Mumbai are. These boys were just a few of the cats hanging around Pasta Lane in Colaba.


The lovely thing about Mumbai is that despite the general chaos there's loads of green spaces where you can sit in peace. Elderly ladies resplendent in chiffon sarees and trainers do one hour circuits of this tiny square every morning.




After a few hours of aimlessly wandering we called into Kyani, one of the many Parsi food joints dotted around downtown Mumbai. We feasted on super spicy veg patties and sweet-salt lime sodas (spending the grand total of £1.50) before continuing on our way.


We continued on to Kala Ghoda, the epicentre of Mumbai's hip and happening arts scene as well as a great place to shop. We're big fans of Cotton Cottage, a shop that specialises in hand-made, block printed, Indian cotton clothes - there's also a couple of branches in Goa. There's often a sale at this time of year so Jon stocked up on granddad shirts and I bought a couple of maxi length wrap-around skirts (we're wearing our buys in the Moti collage). New to Mumbai this year was a massive Zara although I did wonder about the logic of displaying a beige wool cape in the window when it was nudging 36° and I don't think I've ever seen an Indian woman dressed in beige.





I loved the albums covers on display at the second-hand vinyl stall. Sadly the proprietor was nowhere to be seen (probably off feeding the cats like most of the other market traders) so we left empty handed.



After a quick shower back at Moti we rushed down to the Taj with the rest of Mumbai to watch the sun setting over the Arabian Sea before beers and dinner at one of the swanky bars on Marine Drive.





We'd booked the Dharavi slum tour for the afternoon of the following day so after a breakfast of upma (a dry-roasted savoury semolina porridge) & masala chai in a tiny hole in the wall food joint on Colaba Causeway we set off to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya or, as most Mumbaikers still call it, The Prince Of Wales Museum.


We queued behind this adorable group. How on earth do Indian schoolchildren always manage to look so immaculate?


Built in the Indo-Sarenic style by George Wittet in 1904 to commemorate the visit of Edward VIII, the museum is set in the verdant Victoria Gardens and houses over 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from all over the world, categorised into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History.



We loved the thought-provoking displays created by local schoolchildren from waste materials.



The sheer amount of stuff on display was overwhelming. I took loads more photos - which I've shared HERE.


The antique textiles were particularly fabulous.




The image below is possibly one of the best vintage clothing labels I've ever seen!



 After lunch in Churchill's, a favourite Parsi cafe of ours on Colaba Causeway, we dashed back to Moti for a quick change before racing off to Churchgate Station in time to meet the Reality Tour guide and the other tourists. (Read more about our slum tour HERE).


 Before dinner that night we browsed the stalls thronging the pavements of Colaba Causeway as I needed to stock up on leather chappals (I ended up buying three pairs for £10 - I haggled hard) and also snaffled the dress in the photo above from a little boutique which I thought would be ideal for our next trip to India. It was a fixed price shop and cost 700 rupees (around £7.60).

When I was rummaging around a dusty tailor's shop in Goa I found the remains of a bolt of block-printed homespun cotton. The shopkeeper called it "old fashioned" and tried to get me to chose a polka dot polyester, very popular in your country. I explained that I was an old-fashioned girl and handed over the kimono-sleeve dress I wore in most of my Gujarat photos to copy. Twenty-four hours later and at a cost of £15 this dress was mine.


The uber cool Bombay Vintage was the location for our last dinner in India. The food was excellent, the beer  plentiful and a lot of the accompanying 1960s Bollywood filmi soundtrack was just our thing. 

Mumbai, we love you, we can't wait to see you again!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.


51 comments:

  1. ahhhh!! wonderful!
    this must have been gorgeous 48 hours - you made some great pictures of the nooks of mumbai - and a tropical hotel hast to look like yours!! very well done with the dresses and skirts and shirts - such vibrant patterns.....
    thank you for taking us along! xxxx
    p.s.: here ist -10° and stiff winds direktly from the northpole - so we had lunch at an indian restaurant today - to warm up from inside.

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    1. Argh! Your weather sounds appalling. Indian food for lunch was the perfect solution.
      We've got more snow on the way next week, apparently. I can't stand much more! xxx

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  2. The Maximum City!
    It's a shame Indians do not appreciate their artisans more & the handcrafted textiles. I love blockprint but it's getting harder to find as most Indian want modern fabrics & western styles now. There's been a Zara in Delhi for years now & an H&M just opened up there last year. I've never been in a ZAra or an H&M & do not ever plan to. (I see Frank there looking a lot like our Spotty!)

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    1. I think the middle classes are starting the tire of the mass produced stuff if the crowds in FabIndia & Cotton Cottage are anything to go by - the black-printed, hand loom stuff is so much more individual and attractive than all that cheap stuff - not that £100 for a acrylic/wool beige cape was especially cheap! xxx

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  3. How superb to choose hand blocked fabric and have made up into your own dress, I would prefer that to owning a designer label dress without a doubt. your Mumbai hotel is majestic, I love that wooden staircase. Hope the snow clears soon so you don't lose business. Betty x

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    1. There were a few rolls of the block printed cotton lurking on the shelves - there wasn't enough left for maxi dresses except for this one. Hopefully it'll still be there next year and I'll get a couple of skirts and bell sleeved tunics made - I'll just have to remember to pack something I want copied! xxx

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  4. Love the made to order dress - I doubt you could get one anywhere else in the world for that. My Indian friend always says "don't go to Mumbai" but then again, he is not a city boy, he was born in the Mountains of Northern India and always says it is such a big dirty city, that or he has just been Canadianized over the last 5 years since moving here as we are spoiled for land

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    1. I know - fabulous quality fabric and top class craftswomanship for less than the cost of something synthetic imported from China - bargain!
      Every first time visitor we bump into in Mumbai are always amazed by what a beautiful and easy going city it is. It's a bit like the Glastonbury festival - most of the people who say it's terrible have never been. xxx

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  5. Wow, that staircase was indeed amazing! So many architectural delights in your India photos in general. I am not a city girl, I think I'd be overwhelmed by Mumbai. But the 24hour dress copying service is a point in its favour!! Stay cosy, hope the snow goes soon. Ours has thawed loads today xx

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    1. Mumbai's property prices are said to be some of the highest in the world. I can't begin to imagine how much a five storey Victorian mansion like Moti must be valued at with all those original features...scary stuff!
      Mumbai is crazy busy but there's wonderful green spaces, cool cafes, beautiful historical buildings and amazing shops to escape the madness - it's well worth a visit. xxx

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  6. Mumbai looks incredible, you certainly made the most of your time there. Sorry to lower the tone but I'm curious to know what is at Jon's feet in the street art photo...cos it looks like a dog poo bag? The school children are indeed adorable and your new beautiful made to measure frock was a steal.
    I'm so over this weather...roll on spring. xxx

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    1. I suppose it could be, the middle class Mumbaikers love their pet dogs! The bin lorry had just turned up when I took that photo and Jon was telling me to get a move on as they were all watching us in amazement - no time to check the area for unsightly bags! xxx

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  7. Wow, that staircase is quite something! Love all the architecture. I'm not surprised you love Mumbai so much! I too was thinking about those school children looking so immaculate, especially as they're wearing white. How fantastic is your made to measure dress, and so much better than polka dots ;-) Haha, I've just read Fiona's comment about the thing at Jon's feet: I was thinking exactly the same! xxx

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    1. Those schoolchildren are so cute, the little girl's plaits are so neat and tidy and how on earth they manage to stay so clean I'll never know. If you saw the state of our feet after pounding the streets of Mumbai in sandals you'd be horrified! xxx

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  8. Sorry to hear that you were snowed in but Mumbai is definitely the antidote. Your hotel is gorgeous, especially the staircase. I loved all those amazing textiles in the museum and your dress is just lovely. What a bargain and really nice that they make it up for you. Way better than horrible polyester. Those schoolchildren look absolutely adorable and spotless. I don't know how they manage it. Sprogzilla looked like she had been mud wrestling most days after school. The best part has to be the cats. I am so happy that people feed them there. They look lovely. Xx

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    1. Mud wrestling! I was exactly the same (and still am), I can't stay neat and tidy to save my life.
      Those textiles took my breath away especially when displayed alongside some of the Maharanis who originally wore them. xxx

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  9. Spicy veggie patties and lime salt soda!!! Oh yummmm!! I really love the orange and pink floral dress at the top!

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    1. Lime sodas are the best - such a weird taste at first but totally addictive! xxx

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  10. Feel like I’ve been on tour myself now. Wonderful. Aren’t the tailors amazing how they will run you up a garment in no time at hardly any cost and with no fuss. Just think how well my friend Val would fit in hee hee xxx

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    1. I bet Val could get a job there! You'd have to come with us every time you needed a new piece of curtain couture! xxx

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  11. I just love your posts about India Vix....especially when there are textiles involved :)
    Hugs-x-

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    1. Thanks, Sheila! the textiles really are amazing. x

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  12. As always, great photos, and I've learned a thing or two. Your, "Old fashioned " dress is perfection.

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    1. Thanks, Goody! I was really pleased with the dress, I wish I'd had more made now! xxx

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  13. The amount you two squeeze into your trips aways amazes me.

    So fantastic that you were able to get a custom made dress so quickly.

    Suzanne

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    1. I'm such a nosy person, I have to explore every alleyway, street corner and building I come across - we're exhausted after a day out walking! xxx

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  14. The perfect time to look back at Mumbai - when you're covered in snow at home! Wow, your custom made dress is gorgeous - the colour is amazing on you.

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    1. Thanks, Sheila! It was nice to remember being warm, it seems like a lifetime away now!
      I'll definitely get some more stuff made next time I'm there, I seem to be the only person in Goa who appreciates block printed cotton. xxx

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  15. I love your virtual holidays , sadly the nearest to going anywhere I get at the moment . Weve just being having the holiday discussion and are struggling to find something disabled friendly in this country let alone abroad ...lol

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    1. What a nightmare, everyone needs a break! xxx

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  16. Argh, you fitted so much into your 48 hours. I never made it to any Parsi restaurants despite it being on my wishlist... I guess that's something for next time. (There will be a next time, we really enjoyed Mumbai.) Also, stupid question - WHAT bars on Marine Drive?! We slogged up and down the whole thing on foot one very hot afternoon, and I'd have killed for a beer halfway along. But it was worth it to see the wonderful buildings.

    Next time, I will write WHAT WOULD VIX DO? on my hand and try to Mumbai better...

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    1. Maybe we should meet up in Mumbai next time?
      Bars are elusive, aren't they? We tend to walk along Marine Drive and look up - all the bars are rooftop ones and usually illuminated at night although we went to one that didn't serve alcohol! What's that all about?
      I think the better you know Mumbai the easier it becomes to explore it as you know the best places to cross the road and all the shortcuts so you can get around quicker. xxx

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    2. Heh, it would certainly be amazing to meet up there one day.

      Ah, rooftop bars! I had no idea those were there. I did spot one place with a massive sound system and assumed that was someone having some sort of party.

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  17. I love the quirkiness of some of your photos, they make it so interesting, the tiny garden corners and children's displays and other ephemera that make you feel you are catching a glimpse of the place in the moment.
    I also love the kimono style dress you had made, it's such a lovely rich colour. xxx

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    1. Thanks, Sally! Every though we've visited Mumbai a few times we always find stuff we'd never seen before. xxx

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  18. Awesome pictures! I wish I could take those cats home with me! Thanks for sharing your trips with us!

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    1. I always want to steal the cats! There's a street cat and dog charity in Goa we support, even though it's just for Goan animals I still feel like I'm doing my bit! xxx

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  19. Firstly, another reason to admire those Indian women is that they never dress in beige!, fabulous ladies!, and so lovely that you had your dress custom made!
    And I've enjoyed all the pictures you took, so many interesting details, the plants, the cats, the people, the buildings, everything looks really amazing!. Those antique fabrics at the Museum are so fabulous!
    I'm back from a short holiday only to find snow and sleet!
    besos

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    1. I saw that Spain was being lashed with sleet and snow, too. It always seems worse when you get back from a holiday - like real life giving you a slap in the face. xxx

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  20. Gorgeous photos! And the exact dosage of energy-enriching colors to offset yet another week of snow, sleet and mud. Your custom-tailored dress is a marvelous souvenir of this latest adventure -- no doubt you'll remember the fabrics in the museum whenever you wear it!

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    1. Thanks, Beth! I needed something to take my mind of the never-ending snow so revisiting Mumbai was just the ticket.
      That is exactly how my mind works, whenever I wear something I'm instantly transported to the last time I wore it. Next time I wear the black printed dress I'll envisage salt-sweet lime sodas, vintage textiles and the heat of Mumbai! xxx

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  21. What fabulous photos - such a feast for the eyes on this cold dark evening! What a bustling and colourful place Mumbai looks. I loved the Buddha sculpture and that museum would give the V&A a run for its money! I loved your outfits and your made to measure dress is lovely on you...

    I can't believe how clean and tidy the schoolchildren are either - amazing!

    I'm so pleased the moggies are well fed and cared for...
    xxxx

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    1. Funnily enough The Prince of wales Museum has a lot of stuff on loan from the V&A, the amount of stuff on display is mind boggling. It's quite good that you can have multiple entries on your day ticket so you can explore different floors, go elsewhere and come back! xxx

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  22. Hi Vix i don't know if you are aware but there is a programme on BBC4 at 7.30 pm tonight about doll's houses. Just thought you might be interested what with your'e new passion snd all­čśťGreat posts! Shelagh

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    1. Hello, Shelagh! Funnily enough someone's just mentioned it over on IG. I would have missed it as we didn't buy a Guardian this weekend and I haven't a clue what's on. Thank you! xxx

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  23. I want a sweet-salt lime soda!! I've so enjoyed your photos from your India trip. The exquisite architectural details on the buildings, the colourful clothing, the street scenes, all of it! Sorry to hear you've been hit with more snow. Spring will get here, eventually.

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    1. Sweet-salt lime sodas are incredible. I keep meaning to make them at home , they're so refreshing!
      We've got more snow forecast for next week, this winter seems eternal despite having escaped it for five weeks! xxx

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  24. What a magnificent palace! Beautiful post, India never sees to amaze. Stunning colours and beautiful streets (love all the unexpected greenery). The street cats are adorable. Loved all the photos... What a stark contrast to the weather we're having.

    You're not alone in this cold snowy mess, if it is of any consolation, it is snowing in the Mediterranean area (at least where I am) as well.

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    1. I think a lot of people are surprised by how elegant and green Mumbai is, I think they imagine filth, dust and rampant poverty as opposed to tree lined streets, Gothic architecture and cricket matches.
      You've got snow, too? We Europeans are really suffering this Winter, aren't we? xxx

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  25. I smiled at the shopkeeper giving you a fashion advice. :)
    I enjoyed learning about India through your observing eyes, and the lush gardens and grand architecture are a feast for the eye. I can only imagine the smells and flavors of the cuisine (one of my favorite, but always even more interesting in homeland). Those cats have such human eyes! Looking straight into our soul...

    Lovely new orange dress - wonderful for the next trip! The red one is a beauty as well.
    Our children teach us so much. I'm catching up on news in science and ecology from my kid - and I thought I was pretty conscious. :))

    Lots of love!

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    1. She was your typical bossy Indian Auntie. She was trying to make me order all manner of strange outfits, I had to be firm!
      Proper Indian food is amazing. Although we live in an area where there's hundreds of curry houses the food doesn't compare to the cuisine we eat in India, here it's over rich and very meat based. xxx

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Love from Vix
xxx