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Archive for the month “April, 2009”

Joys of Being in India – Part II – Bombay

“The spirit of Bombay”

It’s what keeps this city alive and running. Otherwise how do you think 19 million people crammed into this west cost city of India survive? The short two day visit to Bombay was one of the most memorable visits of my life. What made it so good, was my stay with my cousin, his wife and their son ( my nephew ). Like New York, traffic is a nightmare here in the city and a usual 15 minute drive can take upto 2.5 hours in peak traffic!

My sister in law and I decided to play tourist after my nephew left for school. That is of course after I promised him that my time is his after he comes back 🙂 We had until 5:30 that day, so we sat in the car and Uma (my sister in law) played the guide and I enjoyed the nice ride 🙂 We only stopped at a few places to take some photos and breathe the fresh air. I was just so fascinated by it all. See in Delhi, things are very different. Its hard to explain but folks here in Bombay are more chilled out, they enjoy every minute of it. Whether its the affluent or the slums, speaking of which slums are an integrated part of Bombay. There is no denying that. You see them everywhere, from the highway to the sea shore to the beach… everywhere. With the recent success of the movie, Slumdog… Bombay (Mumbai) has come into somewhat of a limelight and everyone wants a piece of it. Indians however are not so crazy about the movie. It sort of paints a very dark, dingy picture of India 😦

OK back to the sightseeing, I’ll let the pics do the talking…

The Nariman Point ( so hard to find a place where its so quiet and no people!, I just had to take a picture here )

The Gateway of India – on the shore, Taj Palace hotel (in the pic above ) is right opposite this.

Bombay is also the home to Bollywood – India’s biggest film industry, so the second day I was there, my cousin decided to take me for a drive to see the houses of film stars 🙂 It was a lot of fun that way, as we reminded ourselves of the old hindi movies and to look at where they live. Normally I am not much into star watching but it was the company which made it fun. We also went to Jogger’s Park – one of the nicer parks in Mumbai which is also frequented by a lot of film stars 🙂

This appealed to the child in me and I decided to climb up this tower with my nephew. Oh boy, it looked much simpler than it really was!

Bombay is also where you find the best Mangoes – Alphonso! OMG I was so busy eating it, that I never thought you’d like a photo, but then I care about you, and if you’d just seen me eat it, you would have HATED me. Seriously, I was transferred to a very Happy Place! I also enjoyed some of the local snacks one of which is called “Vada Pav” which is basically a sandwich with lots of garlicky chutney spread inside a burger bun and the stuffing was a fried potato dumpling. Oh boy was that yummy or what!

I am not much of a night life person but like New York, Bombay has some of the best clubs in India, and that where most people like to unwind after a tough day at work and commute 🙂

Each night I was there, we never slept before 3 AM reminiscing about our childhood days and how cool we thought we were 😉 Sleep deprivation has never been so much fun!

I left Bombay with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, for this was one of the warmest visit to a brother’s house ever!

Next up – Delhi, also known as “A city of people with big hearts!”

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Joys of being in India

When I posted a month ago with all my plans for my vacation in India, I skipped a very important factor. I have a family who loves me way too much 🙂 So… as a result most of the last two weeks have been spent catching up with my aunts, grandmother and my cousins reliving my childhood with them, realizing that I was indeed a VERY PAMPERED girl 🙂 And now, when I have my nephews and nieces, it is my turn to pamper them, so when the opportunity arose for me to choose between going shopping or making train tracks with my nephew, there was no question what I was going to do 🙂 One look at his pleading eyes and I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

How the last 13 days flew by, I never noticed. So today when I have some time to myself, I thought it might be fun to go back 2 weeks and take you with me.

April 2nd – I flew in to Delhi, where my family lives. I had just enough time to meet my parents and pack my bags for my travel within India. No time for Jetlag!

April 3rd – I arrived in Hyderabad, home to ISB (Indian School of Business), voted 15th best B-School in the whole world! This is where my brother was graduating from. Graduation cermony was amazing!

ISB Library

The next two days were spent in exploring the campus with my brother, going pearl shopping with my mother and sister in law.

We also went to a craft bazaar. It was over 100 degrees though so we came back within an hour.

I really wanted to bring one of these back but I was afraid they would break in travel.

Fabric sold by the piece

Hyderabad was the home to Nizams in the 17th century India. They were among the wealthiest people in the whole world. Which is why Hyderabad has a rich culture and is known also for pearls, architecture and museums. I visited a museum consisting of collection from one of the Nizams of Hyderabad. How one individual can possess so much was mind boggling.

Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad

Unlike the US, museums in India are very affordable and cater to the masses. A ticket only costed 15 Rupees which is equivalent to 0.30 Cents! Of course this is also not a big city so that might have something to do with it. Photography was prohibited but I bought a CD which I will upload later. Unlike the museum shops in the US which are filled with made in china crap, the shop in this museum was run by the Govt. of India and contained books and CDs and local crafts. It was obviously boring to most people but to me it was fascinating!

Modern Hyderabad is one of the fastest developing cities in India. It has a HUGE IT sector and home to many bio tech companies. Microsoft has a HUGE campus here. So much so that they coined the IT town “CYBERabad”..

Whenever I travel I always sample some of the local foods… One of the things Hyderabad is famous for is BIRYANI, which is basically is a rice casserole layered with really HOT spices, lots of vegetables, coconut (its the south so there has to be coconut). It’s really yummy, but you need a glass of cold milk to suppress the heat afterwords 🙂 It is traditionally made with beef, but I had the vegetarian version which is equally good! Atleast in India I didnt have to worry about meatless food 🙂 I didnt take a photo, but that just means that I have to get the recipe from my sister in law and try it here at home.

Even though I grew up in Delhi, India, I never took the time to travel within India and now that I am, it is just so fascinating! The culture so rich, the history so divine and the people so warm. I wish you were here with me to experience this all.

I have to run, my cousin is coming to visit. I’ll continue this later with tasty bites from Bombay!

More photos in my Flickr Album.

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