Tag Archives: Mumbai

5 Different Things to do on a Day Out in Mumbai

So you have a day or two in Mumbai and you are not sure what to do?  Whether you are just passing through on work or know the city well, these are some of my picks for a few hours well spent in this bustling city.

1. Cat Cafe Studio, Versova

Cat Cafe Studio. Photo Nicola Fenton

In the heart of trendy seaside Versova where Bollywood artists and the advertising, creative crowd hang out, is home to India’s first cat cafe.

Blind cats, three legged cats, kittens and big cats, they are all here and all look happy and well fed.

Part creative agency, part cafe, part feline NGO and part event space, this cafe started in 2010 and is now a thriving Cat Cafe that put their rescue felines first. All the cats are rescue cats, nursed to health and then put up for adoption

The space is super clean and well run and has around 40 cats at any one time. You can choose to eat in the leafy front part of the cafe or choose to lounge about with the cats in a secure space near the back, once there you will not want to leave.

The cat cafe is free to visit (events are chargeable), has free wifi and you can stay as long as you like. They have a range of food and drinks available for sale and there is plently of information if you want to donate or adopt. Look out for their events , yoga with cats and comedy nights amoung others.

Check out their website https://www.catcafestudio.com for more information and directions.

Matunga East Market

Jackfruit at Matunga East Market. Photo Nicola Fenton

Matunga East market is my go-to place when I am on the lookout for anything South Indian. From food to groceries to clothes, their goods come directly from the Southern States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala & Kanataka.

Matunga is the place to get the best dosa’s and other traditional fare like banana-leaf curries, vada’s, idlis, panipayams and spicy sambhar. Amoungst the miriad of vegetable sellers are small shops specialising in regional spices and grains.

Pick up fresh banana chips, red rice, black rice, pickles coconut as well of 100’s of the Souths famous snacks and specialities.

I always go in the summer to get my fix of seasonal jackfruit and cooling ice apple (tadgola) and to pick up a fresh summer lungi (sarong) to wear. Its hot, its crowded but a unique little part of the south in Mumbai that you will not find anywhere else in the city.

Put Lakhamsi Napoo Rd in your Google maps, or catch a Taxi or Local train to Matunga East Station.

Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island. Photo Raga D’silva

Elephanta Island is located in the Bombay harbour and takes approx one hour on one of the numerous ferries that cross the bay from The Gateway of India.

Buy your tickets from the box office, price is approx Rs150 return per person on the slower passenger ferries. Or if you prefer you can get a private speedboat for around 12k for up to 8 people.

Once you reach the jetty it is a short walk to the market where you can pick up some local arts and crafts, much cheaper than in Colaba. After a short but steep hike through the market you can turn right for a short hike up to the lookout point or turn left for a longer but more leisurely walk past the damn and through the local village.

Watch out for the monkeys, they are used to tourists, fun to watch but are seasoned and clever thieves. Check timings before you go, Elephanta is closed in the Monsoon season or when the sea is rough. Don’t miss the last ferry back to Bombay.

To enquire about private speedboat hire or to experience a simple homemade meal (lunch) in a village house on the island contact me nicola@nicolafenton.com

Dhobi Ghat

Dhobi Ghat Mumbai. Photo Nicola Fenton

Dhobi Ghat is the famous open air laundromat in Mahalaxmi constucted in 1890. The dhobis (washers) wash clothes and other laundry from all over Mumbai.

At first sight it seems mad and chaotic but after a while you realise that their simple code system is amazingly efficient and has an almost zero error record making the ghats one of the most popular choices for laundry.

This is a labor-intensive process, of washing, sorting and ironing that has not really changed in the 130 yrs the place has been in existance. They have guided tours by proud residents who take you through the process and give you a peek at their unique way of life.

The best times to visit is early mornings or early afternoon. The guides, many who are now well educated and can speak a variety of languages are always very eager to share little anecdotes from their trade with curious travelers.

Dhobi Ghat is located next to Mahalaxmi Station. Get there via taxi or local train.

Local Trains – An Experience !

Local Train’s in Mumbai. Photo Nicola Fenton

The local trains in Mumbai carry approx 7.5 million Mumbaikers to and from work everyday. Rush hours are not for the faint hearted and if you decide to catch one to see a bit of Mumbai I highly recomend only off-peak or weekends.

The trains are super cheap and get you long distances within the city much faster than any car or taxi can. As this form of transport is not popular with the upwardly mobile, it’s a great way to see the real heartbeat of the city. It’s an adventure on its own and you can buy almost anything on board from the local sellers who travel up and down the lines everyday from snacks through to vegetables and trinkets.

Most people are friendly and will try to be helpful if you get lost or are not sure what station to get off at. You will hear languages from all over India spoken and see a huge cross section of people going about their business.

The main lines are the Central Line that starts from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj terminus ( formely Victoria terminus) in Fort Mumbai. CST station is a Heritage building and well worth the visit on its own. This line is the older of the two lines with older trains that take you through the Eastern and central side of the city.

The Western line starts from Chruchgate station, which is in the heart of SoBo (South Bombay) and has easy access to Marine Parade, Wankabe stadium and Colaba. The trains on this line tend to be newer and faster and service the Western side of Mumbai.

Make sure you have a ticket before you board. There are first and second class carriages as well as women only carriages ( highly recomended for single women travellers). Dont expect the doors to ever close, or for people to wait for you to get off before they get on, go with the flow and enjoy.

But it’s a great way to see the greater Mumbai area. Get off at Bandra West for the upscale restaurants and the hipster vibe along with the Bollywood who’s who; or travel on to Borivali to visit the Sanjay Ghandhi National Park. Wherever you get off its sure to be an adventure.

Author: Nicola Fenton is a Kiwi who has been living in Mumbai on and off for the last 10 yrs.

Contact: nicola@nicolafenton.com

Instagram @NicsGoingGlobal

First of the first

2014 –  another first of the first. This time in London UK. Woke up late to cold and the type of miserable rain that makes one want to close the curtains and snuggle further under the duvet. I have experienced  the first of January in many countries – New Zealand, India, Thailand, London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

New Zealand is full of childhood memories. New Year on the beach, waking up to the warmth, holidays and exciting times ahead.  Rain for me was always disappointing; chilling the air, making playing outside uncomfortable. It was usually a welcome break to the long hot summer days, but not being a farmer or relying on rain for my well being, I considered it a nuisance and a reminder of the cold bleak winter days that would always follow.

Asia changed my perception of rain. My first summer rain was in Cambodia, a very brief shower, warm, skin tingling and it seemed to freshen and brighten the whole countryside. Since then I have experienced many Asian rains, from the torrential monsoons in Mumbai, flash flooding in New Delhi, sudden downpours in Thailand and the more gentle misty rain in Sri Lanka. For some reason these Asian rains seemed more uplifting, warmer and were welcome as a cleanser and cooler for the dust and heat baked countryside. The sign of cooler times ahead always was welcomed rather than dreaded.  The rain was always more comfortable, less cold albeit it often flooded,the damp and mould always evident in tropical cities. Maybe its the fact that rain in Asia is usually confined to the monsoon season, a sign of the break of the relentless heat, the upcoming cool season and once over it won’t come back for months .

Back to the first of the first. As I grow older and travel more I look for more firsts. I grew up believing what I saw  and what I was told to be true and for many of my formative years it was. Christmas came every year, the New Year was always on the 1st of January, summer followed spring which came after winter which was preceded by autumn, rain was always cold. Simple things, simple beliefs until I started meeting people that had never celebrated Christmas, whose New Year was on a different day and who had never experienced cold rain. Simple things but so different.

Now I look for the differences, actively seek them out, questioning my own beliefs, looking for first of the firsts and not just on the first of January. Any day can be a first, in fact it is. Every morning a new morning, every rain is different, whether it be warm or cold, every person is different moulded by their own upbringing’s, their own experiences.

Today is the 1st of January 2014, the rain outside is cold but I am grateful that I have a warm duvet and someone I love to snuggle into. I have many resolutions, the usual suspects around, eating habits and fitness but more and more I am looking both within as well as outside for those simple experiences I don’t even know exist yet, like the joy in warm rain.