Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Musings on the Trip to Mumbai

6th June, 2006

We are back in Delhi, after our short four day holiday to Mumbai. It was a fairly good holiday; relaxing, enjoying good company and excellent cuisines everyday. I have a little time today in my hand, so I thought that I may as well write my diary on this trip.

We travelled by Deccan Airlines. On 1st June, the flight was delayed by more than two and half hours. The mismanagement at the Delhi airport was pathetic. There were only two security check counters, and something like seven flights' passengers wanted to get into the security area. There must have been some thousand people- all the flights were late. Indians have a peculiar tendency to hate waiting in a queue, all of us want to get whereever we want go before everyone else. Inthe process if there is any chaos, or there is more delay, or there is a fight, so be it. Naturally, on the night of the 1st June, there were four queues instead of two, and a number of well dressed and "educated" passengers broke one queue to get ahead and thus create pandemonium that was already there in front of the Security check gate. I did protest, though many in the crowd considered me weird. Munia thought I was making an unnecessary fracus. Anyway, after we got into the departure lounge, they announced a further delay of one more hour, and all this effort in instilling discipline into a few incorrigible idiots was futile. Ultimately the flight reached Mumbai airport at one thirty in the morning, and poor Swapan was waiting for us even at that hour. We reached their home after two o'clock, and Deepa was waiting to greet us.

Swapan is a senior VP at the UTI bank and his residence (rented by the Office) is almost on the Marine Drive, behind the famous Wilson College. It is a large flat with three bedrooms and a big living room on the third (or more correctly the fifth) floor of a 20 story tower block. Sea breeze is a continuous phenomenon in this flat, especially after the first rains of the season which happened only a day before. One could see the Nariman point from the windows, and on a clear day you could watch ships sail by in the horizon. It was truely a wonderful experience. Sadly, Swapan is "retiring" in another six months time. When they go back to live in Kolkata, they will surely miss their flat in Mumbai.

We got up late next morning and had a fairly heavy break fast. Munia went out to frollic with her friends, she had met a year or two ago when she visited Mumbai. Deepa made a truely sumptuous lunch, the menu included really large prawns (Galda). In the evening Rupu and I went to the beach, just around the corner, called Girgaon Chapatti, and spent an hour out there. Took a few photo with our Digital Camera that is a present from Bulbuli and Sambit. Later Swapan and Deepa took us to a restaurant called "The Excelsea" , the sea food joint, where we had very nice and exotic fish for our dinner.

Next day was a Saturday. Both Deepa and Swapan had work to do, so they went out. Munia and Rupu and I went galavanting on our own to do a bit of sight seeing, first at the Kamla Nehru Park, and later at the Gateway of India. Kamla Nehru park is situated high on the hills , overlooking the beach on one side, but is meant primarily for chidren. It is very well maintained and quaintly manicured. We took a few photos too. Gateway of India is on the beach near the famous Taj Hotel , full of people, and the sea was quite choppy. From there we went to Colaba, and had an interesting Lunch at a restaurant of the the name Montegour ( if I remember correctly) with draft lager and European salads and sea food pasta. The restaurant had Mario's cartoon paintings all over its walls. It is supposed to be the favourite eating place of Mumbai's young crowd. Munia bought an umbrella and some earrings in the street markets in Colaba. By the time we came home it had started raining. Soon afterwards though, Munia went off to meet Tulip, a boy from Delhi who has been her friend from school days and also at St Stephens College, and whose real name is Rohit (?). In the evening, I suggested we see the movie Fanaa, at Regal Cinema, also in Colaba. But by the time Rupu and Deepa and I went to buy tickets, it was house full. So we ended up going to a nearby Chinese Restaurant, Li's Pavillion, on the same street as the Montegour, and had a very tasty meal with pork spare ribs and fried rice in a pot and chicken. I heard one of the usherers mention that Rishi Kapoor and his entourage was to dine at the restaurant that evening. Munia joined us also. But alas, we missed Rishi Kapur, who might have sneaked upstairs when we were relishing our food at the basement. Swapan was not with us, because he went to Airport to receive Shalini, their daughter, who was coming from Singapore. Her husband Chikoo was there on an assignment.

Next day was a Sunday, and inspite of all good intentions, I could not wake early and go for a morningwalk on the beach. We went to Babi's place at the ICICI's Tower in Prabha Devi, near the famous Siddhi Binayak Temple for lunch. Babi however was not there; she had been to Washington to make a presentation to the World Bank and IFC.She was due to return last night, but missed the connecting flight at Paris. Chhotoboudi (Babi's Ma) was there along with theier long time maid, Giribala. She had some good lunch cooked for us (Tangra maach, Chicken curry and rue machher jhol), which we ate with great relish. Later she took us for a ride to the big mall nearby (Lifestyle and Big Bazaar) and then to the Worli Seaface. She was very proud of the professional rise of Babi ( She has been a GM in ICICI for three years now, and a favourite of Kamath , the Chairman), but on the whole appeared to be a bit lonely. Babi's six year old son Aniket was her company, and Babi was mostly busy ( 8AM to 9-30PM in office). Babi's husband Sanjoy works in Dubai. He was in Mumbai a few days ago and took Aniket to Kolkata. They were to return in a day or two. Rupu asked Chhotoboudi about Sanjoy's work at Dubai, but she did not seem to know.

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