A few days in India and I can’t help but wonder, where have all of the cows gone? When I last came to India, I was 10 years old. My memories, albeit faint, were of children squeezing their hands through the taxi windows and begging for money; smells and sounds that invaded your senses, and cows. Lots of cows. In fact, I think we were on our way to Agra, when the driver had to shut off the car for a good ½ hour and wait until the cow sitting in the middle of the road finally decided to stand up and move.
Twenty-five years later and this India is nothing like that. I can count on my fingers the number of people who have asked us for anything and so far the only cow we saw was the one yesterday, off to the side of a street and only because our friends pointed it out to us. As for smells… I can really only describe the delicious scents of curry and fresh roti coming out of the restaurants we pass or the smell of freshly baked donuts from the new Krispy Kreme (yes, you read that right! donut shops are apparently all the rage here). Mind you, this has only been in Bombay (and mostly Bandra), so I’m sure things will change a bit once we travel out of this area!
The sounds though are still there. Incessant honking, even with signs everywhere saying “NO HONKING”. It’s actually pretty fun to watch though and play a game of guessing what that car or rickshaw or auto is honking at exactly! And then there’s the chaiwalla chanting “chai…chai…chai” as you walk down the street and the Indian music blaring out of the taxis windows as they drive past you. Come to think of it, maybe the sounds are a good thing. It’s the song of the city and lets you know where you are.
So a few days in and I have learned that change can be good. I am loving India and, as our friends take us to restaurant after restaurant, am realizing that my plan to drop a few dress sizes here may not be possible! Nor will my plan to bargain down designer sarees. Unfortunately change also means “fixed prices” – gotta hate that one!
Love from Bombay!
Our India Recommendations…so far…and currently only for Bandra, Mumbai:
- As soon as you land, drop your bags at your AirBnb and then head to Elco Market for chaat. This was my first real ‘chaat’ experience (I know!) and it was worth the wait!
- If it’s a Thursday evening, head to Pavi Bhavan for dinner and then some drinks and music.
- For a more casual but equally delicious thali dinner, check out Papa Pancho and then walk over to Punjab Sweet House for some mithai to take home.
- Suzette is the spot to go for breakfast. Well, a “French” breakfast. They have crepes, freshly baked croissants, and coffee (pretty rare considering the preference for Chai).
- To keep current on all things Bollywood, follow blogger extraordinaire @missmalini.
- Shopping (Sarees/Suits): Anita Dongre (thank you Saher for taking me there!) for Indian “fency” and Indian fusion casual clothing and Seasons in Santa Cruz. You should also go to Friendship in Santa Cruz for good prices and if nothing else, to make a stop at the Sandwizza stand in front of the shop and eat an alloo grilled cheese sandwich. (Tip: If you are shopping in the store, they will bring this to you for a much needed shopping snack!).