Monday, March 1, 2010

Bombay Day 2

Well, yesterday was an experience and a half! The first order of business was for my stomach to act up - because that's part of being a tourist here.

Here is the view of the beach from the Sun'n'Sand - peaceful!

And one of the many dogs that hangs out everywhere and anywhere in town...

So, still butt-ass tired and after some ill-advised tea and toast I ventured out into the busy city for another day of sight-seeing!

I had the same taxi driver from yesterday and he seemed extremely put out by the fact that I was taking a
walking tour when he - for much less, he assured me - could drive me around and show me everything I want to see. I could almost see the "Silly, spoiled white lady" thought bubble over his head - especially when he started pointing out all the poor people for me.

Thanks, dude. I saw them before you pointed them out.

But thankfully, I turned out to be one of those tourists who is able to ignore the beggars without too much trouble. I just told myself that when I get back I will donate to a charity and that I can't help everyone.

Anyways, before I started the tour, I went to Leopold's Cafe for the most delicious iced tea I've ever had and another slice or two of toast.

There were armed guards outside the entrance - and I mean
armed with giant rifles - which is kind of funny since the place itself isn't super fancy or anything but it was hit during the terror attacks of 26/11 because of the association with tourists.

I had fun people watching and then walked along the strip with all the vendors of tourist-bait but nothing caught my eye, except for one thing which I picked up as a present for my brother but I'm not telling what it is.

I also popped into the Taj bookstore and saw two really nice Bollywood coffee table books I wanted but couldn't justify carrying them around all day, so I passed.

Then I met my guide from
Mumbai Magic - the tour was supposed to be part of a group but I was the only one who showed up. My tour guide was an adorable college student named Priyanka and once she found out that I liked Bollywood, she very kindly pointed out all the landmarks for me.

We started back over by the Gateway to India, which isn't as old as I thought it was - it dates from the early 1900s - and is newer than the Taj Hotel.

And the Taj Hotel again...

There are so many pretty buildings...

Bombay Stock Exchange...

I forget what this building was called, it was originally a hotel, but it was where scenes from
Bluffmaster and Rock On!! were shot.

You can see the
Army Restaurant where Magik ate!

The University! The same architect worked in Cambridge, MA, which I could totally see once she pointed it out because that last shot looks an awful lot like the library I worked at.

Next are the courts, which open up onto that big field we've all seen in hundreds of films. It felt like I was in the opening scenes of that terrible movie
Meri Jung- sadly, not the "Bol Baby Bol" part.

Everybody was playing cricket!

The EROS Theatre, showing
Karthik Calling Karthik...

Some nice art deco buildings...

We took the bus to the Gandhi Museum.

If I'm not mistaken, this is where Munnabhai had his spiritual awakening in
Lage Raho Munnabhai!

Along with the most hilarious mix of tourists ever - including an extremely earnest hippie in dreads who read
every sign in painstaking detail, a politely baffled Korean family, and a handful of Germans - the upstairs held this amazing display of dioramas of Gandhi's life. I could have spent all day with these for reasons that will soon become clear.

Yes, that first one is a carefully crafted pile of corpses and in the second you can see the blood splatters.

There were some other great ones, including an elaborate ball room scene and some very nicely done crowds - all the dolls had different and fanciful expressions. I was really impressed!

I'm being irreverent about the dolls, but the museum itself was very nicely done and emotional.

After the museum, we got some snacks - I got to try pani puri for the first time and oh my god is it delicious!

Then we walked through a market and took the same train that Rani catches in Saathiya- I felt weird taking pictures there so I didn't. I hate when tourists take pictures on the Metro in Washington, DC and make me feel like a tourist attraction, so the least I can do here is return the courtesy. Believe you me that the train looks exactly the same as in Saathiya, only minus the Vivek Oberoi.

We then saw the big public laundry - which I didn't snap for the same reasons - but it was pretty intense seeing all the young boys hard at work cleaning clothes.

Then we finished up at VT Station, where Bebo was not waiting to zip off on her motorbike with me as in Tashan but I did see the place where Slumdogwas filmed but pictures weren't allowed inside the station.

All in all it was a great tour - so thank you to Priyanka!

On the way back, I got more lectures on poverty from the taxi driver but he was also kind enough to point out Amitabh Bachchan's house!

The crowd outside was huge!

Here he is!

When I got back, I went to the cocktail hour hosted for guests at the Sun'n'Sand and met two very cute older couples from the UK who both had children around my age and they took me right under their wings. After a few glasses of wine, they started quizzing me about the Health Care Reform Bill... it's a good thing I work in Washington, DC or I'd have sounded really stupid!

It felt like something right out of "A Room With a View" - meeting the other guests at the hotel.

Anyways, I went to bed early due to a combination of wine + jet lag and that was day 2!


cmleigh said...

oooh!!!! The photos and commentary is wonderful. I recongized some of the buildings right away and Lage Raho Munnabhai! came to mind right away. :D

Thanks for sharing and I hope your stomach is feeling better.

eliza bennet said...

I too hope that your stomach is better and thank you for the photos.

It looks really hot yaar, I have no idea what to bring to wear.

ajnabi said...

It looks like you're having such an interesting and fun time!!!

Darshit said...

Yay! U r also a fan of Pani puri now ! Love to read more abt ur foodie experience. Staying at beach, u must try boiled beans that is 'chana' or fried 'chana jor garam'. (remember a song featuring jaya bachchan selling tht..)

MsBlogger said...

Pani puri used to be great but I've taken a vow not to eat it since I was twelve, and although I'm officially an adult, I'm not going to break it! I became really ill and couldn't get out of bed so my parents made me promise. I'll stick to chaat and chana for now. I hope you enjoy your stay!

bollywoodfoodclub said...

Keep having fun and keep the posts coming. I'm enjoying India vicariously through you!
All the best,
Sita-ji said...

Thanks for this!!! I mean to say something in your last post but it has been so cool reading about your adventures.... Like others say, I am enjoying seeing India through your eyes!

Now to start scraping those pennies so I can travel there :)

Bombay Talkies said...

I'm so excited that you used Mumbai Magic tours. I've been reading her blog for a while and think the tours look great, but it's good to "hear" from someone first hand who's taken one. I definitely plan on keeping them in mind for my (hopefully soon!) trip to India.

Enjoy the rest of your trip, really enjoying your posts from Mumbai!


d said...

I sometimes have the same worry about photographing things and people. But eventually I shifted a bit when I realized nobody cares and I stick out so much no matter what I do (and IIRC, you are tall and female in addition to being white, so all the more so) that it doesn't make any difference.

pixel pitz said...

Had to scroll up and look at the date to see if it was a Sunday when you went by the Bachan compound. I lived in Bombay for 3 months last year (April-June) trying to basically figure out how I could get involved in the industry. Met a lot of great people. For a couple of weeks I stayed with some new friends just down the road from the Bachan house (across from JW Marriott). The couple, an Indian man and American wife told me that Big B comes out to say hello to the crowd on Sundays if he's in town. We kept an eye on his twitter feed (weird to type that) to see if he might make an appearance but he was repeatedly out of town. At the end of my trip, on the last Sunday, the American wife and I were making dinner and watching... probably KANK or something... and we thought about going down the street but opted not to... only to find out via twitter an hour later that HE HAD COME OUT. UGH!!! Cannot believe I missed it. Anyway, new to your blog, really enjoying it -- particularly your Dhoom 2 archive. Dhoom 2 was the second Hindi movie I saw and the one to make me fall in love. At first I was watching them ironically. Then with total enthusiasm for the art. I blame Hrithik's abs for my now complete obsession.

Filmi Girl said...

@pixel Welcome welcome!

My posts are mixture of serious stuff, glitzy stuff, and more irreverent things... Usually when I get worked up it's over a) actresses being scary thin b) Bollywood folk badmouthing Bollywood for not being like Hollywood and c) ignorant Western journos writing nonsense.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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