Experienced our first overnight train with no dramas and actually slept, despite the man snoring as loud as a fog horn next to us.
Arrived in our AirBnB place, first one of the trip, which is around the Khar West area, but in the Bandra district. 10th floor of a block of flats, ‘not too shabby’ (a common theme in this ‘hood) and within walking distance/rickshaw away from places to be seen. Bandra is known as ‘Queen of the Suburbs’, but don’t let this confuse you, it’s no Welwyn Garden City!
Had a lovely breakfast in Kitchen Garden, recommended by our host for a nice wholesome breakfast. Again, no Indian grub, but continental, playing it safe in the food department while we still have options!
During our time here we undertook a Raconteur walk around Bandra, taking in numerous historic churches as well as varied architecture. Bandra was one of the first places that the Portuguese settled in during the 1600s, well before the British. The Church of St Andrews is the oldest standing church in India, 400 years old this year, that’s how long Christianity has played a part in this religiously-diverse country. Our guide, Rucha, took us round some of the old homes that used to (and still do) shelter the fishing community of Mumbai. Similar to old fishing villages back home. She mentioned that these areas are protected, and cannot be sold or rented to anyone outside of the community, which is rare round here. Real estate is the city’s biggest commodity, so you’d assume nothing was safe!
Along with Steve and I we were joined by a great American lass from New York, who was here on business and decided to take in some sights/tours before she departed. I love it when you can connect with a stranger instantly, a really great person to meet, nice little hug when saying goodbye too 🙂
Safe to say Bandra is still hard work. In South Mumbai/Colaba rickshaws (tuk-tuks) aren’t given licences, but up here they are EVERYWHERE, and I kinda wish they weren’t. Don’t get me wrong, they are very cheap to ride in (30p for a 5-10 minute journey) but when you’re in one you fear for your life! Apart from them, Bandra is The Place To Be if you’re a youngster who looks for ‘modern’ luxuries and social fun. It’s very hip, buzzing, with great nightlife. If you travel to Mumbai split your time between the Fort/Colaba and Bandra/Juhu areas. Bandra doesn’t have many ‘attractions’ for tourists, it’s about living, socialising and eating.
Bandra is also where a lot of Bollywood actors live, so the wealth is strikingly obvious to the majority who have nothing. Just yesterday I saw a toddler peeing (and pooing) from a window on the 11th floor of a tower block opposite us, directly on to the roof below. Of all the things ive seen so far, this has been the most upsetting and disgusting. To think that this happens a few metres away from homes that wealthy and influential people live in and it’s just tolerated and ignored….
I’ll leave you with this piece that I read in the paper on Saturday: ‘the latest inequality report produced by Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group says that the richest 1% of Indians own 58.4% of the nation’s wealth’ 1% of a country of 1.2billion people!
Kitchen Garden: Hip French place that did a fine brioche bun with egg, sundried tomato and avocado.
Theobroma: Coffee, pastries and cakes galore!
Hoppipola: Funky little Bar/Restaurant, where you can get a cocktail served up in a Yellow Pages book (don’t ask!) I asked for a Dosa Bolognese (yes, that’s a thing), but they brought me Spaghetti Bolognese. Lost in translation….
Suzzette: Elder sister of Kitchen Garden, very compact restaurant, good bread and peanut butter (for Stevie!).
Khar Social: like the one in Colaba, it’s the bar/cafe to be, well priced drinks and delish food.
Urban Street Café: Small little fast food restaurant serving up a mix of Indian and Thai dishes, cheap as chips and great wholesome food, just don’t trust them if they say they take card!
Toto Garage: Classic ‘rock’ bar (Cliff Richard is not rock music Mr DJ). Very surreal place, workers walked around in orange dungarees and SuperMario style hats and tashes. LOL.
The XVII Tea Rooms – YES i finally got my first cuppa, a rare find in India surprisingly, fantastic cheese on toast!