What an affair!
Day 100/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. Day 2/3 Mumbai, India.
We did not have an excursion scheduled for our second day in Mumbai as we had originally hoped to play golf today. Mumbai only has private golf clubs though and we did not know anyone to be able to get on any private golf courses, so our only option for golfing would have been to play a public 9 hole course. It was not worth the aggravation to try to go and play golf, for only 9 holes. We did have something planned for later in the day though, but first……SHOPPING!
I wish I knew then what I know now. We did not know there was Uber in Mumbai while we were in Mumbai. Viking never mentioned Uber, only taxis, so we never even thought to try calling an Uber. One of the best malls around I had overheard while I was getting my hair done recently, was the Phoenix Market City mall about a 45 minute drive from the International Cruise Terminal. The mall has over 300 stores, movie theatres and 70 restaurants. An Uber would have cost us about $3.50 USD to get to the mall had we known about Uber working in Mumbai. A couple of other good things about an Uber is they are air conditioned, and they send you a pin code once you order an Uber, so the driver asks for the pin code and punches it into his GPS and the address you are going to pops up in his navigation system and the Uber supervisor watches to make sure the driver is taking his fare exactly to the place that was requested. Uber has figured out these added security features for tourists in foreign lands. Uber in Mumbai also has a feature where you can share your itinerary with someone so they can see where you are along the planned route, so they know when to meet you. This would have been handy the night before when we were trying to meet Gene and Margaret for dinner. Anyway, enough about Uber. It would have been wonderful to go in an Uber to the Phoenix Market City mall, but we did not get there, so instead we met our neighbour from Canada Sharon and went to the Colaba Causeway Market again! The things we learn after the fact. Hopefully sharing this will help next year’s World Cruisers!
Sharon’s husband Mike was touring the Elephanta Caves UNESCO Wold Heritage Site on Elephanta Island (a 7.5 hour excursion) and Sharon did not want to go. The Caves we had been warned were full of a lot of steps and could be difficult to walk, and possibly slippery. The caves contain rock cut stone sculptures that show Hindu and Buddhist ideas and iconography. Mike will send me some photos from the caves which I will include in the blog either today or tomorrow.
Once we met up with Sharon we grabbed a taxi right at the exit of the International Cruise Terminal Immigration Building and negotiated a 500 rupee flat fair to take us to the Colaba Causeway Market.
Sharon had not been shopping yet in Mumbai and had a list of items she wanted to buy for different friends and family members, so of course I had to bring her to my favourite little shop from the previous evening!
Looking at cushion covers and table runners. I bought the cushion covers I am holding. They were each about $4 USD. Very ‘boho’!
The pile kept growing on the counter. Every time we liked something the shopkeepers would put it aside for us, but then bring out more things and we would eventually lose the item we had set aside at the bottom of the pile. Our piles got so big that finally they moved them to the back counter of the store. One pile for Sharon and another one for me.
Someone is having way too much fun looking at hand stitched elephant wall hangings!
We left Richard on the street watching the people while we were shopping for about an hour in this store. Of course with his knapsack on his back, everyone who went by was trying to either sell him something or get him to come and visit their store in another part of the market!
We negotiated our discounts with the shop keeper, making sure to remind him that I had been in the store and purchased items last night with Margaret and had brought another good customer to his store today. To thank me for bringing another customer to his store, the owner gifted me a beautiful blue scarf which I chose from some scarves he showed me as we were leaving the store. He offered Sharon the same choice of scarves and she got a beautiful grey scarf. The free scarves were a very nice gesture by the shopkeeper and we were also given cards to distribute to other passengers when we returned to the ship. I unfortunately do not have any more cards to take a photo of for this blog, but the shop was just up a few doors up from McDonalds in the Colaba Causeway Market.
The next stop was to a jewellery vendor next to McDonalds. Sharon wanted the bell shaped dangly earrings for friends and family back home in Canada and was able to negotiate some good pricing on a dozen pairs of different bell shaped earrings. She also picked up some necklaces and ankle bracelets too. I only picked up some ankle bracelets which go well when wearing Indian attire.
We had a shopkeeper keep pestering us while we were at the jewellery vendor’s shop. The guy kept bugging both us and Richard to come to his store which was around the corner. Sharon took the bait unfortunately after we finished up at the jewellery shop and she ended up in a tailor’s shop, with a pushy tailor wanting to make her shirts, “because she must have a hard time finding clothes in Canada!” Sharon is not a big person at all. Imagine a shopkeeper saying that to a customer and expecting them to want to buy clothes from them! I guess they will use any tactics to sell clothes!
We avoided the tailor’s shop, because right next door was the green cross outside a store, which always signifies a pharmacy anywhere around the world. We needed more shaving cream for Richard and Vitamin D for me. We found what we were looking for and were able to buy everything for about $12 USD. Vitamin D had been very expensive in Phuket, Thailand and also in Sri Lanka when I checked, so I had waited until we got to India to try again and luckily I was just about out of Vitamin D and the price in India was very reasonable. Everything in the pharmacy was behind the counter and we had to ask for specific items and then pharmacy staff would go and find the items and bring them back to us, giving us choices on which brand of shaving cream, or which IU of vitamin D in pill or gel cap formulation.
Richard was getting pretty tired of the growing crowds and of carrying all of our purchases. He felt like he was an ‘easy mark’ standing on the street while we continued to shop, so knowing that he was getting ‘hangry’ we crossed the street to try and find a cab driver that spoke English and knew where the International Cruise Terminal was located.
We tried a number of waiting cabs on the street and no one really gave us a clear indication that they knew where the International Cruise Terminal was located. We had actually brought a copy of the Viking Daily with us to show the driver the address and the phrase “Take me to the ship” in the local language, but we were still not having much success. I grabbed a street vendor that spoke English and asked him if he could speak to the cab driver after looking at our Viking Daily, to explain to him where we wanted to go. Finally Sharon found a cab driver who said he understood where we wanted to go and would take us back to the Cruise Terminal for 150 rupees. A lot cheaper than the 500 rupees we had paid to get to the Colaba Causeway Market! If only we had known about Uber!!
We jumped in the cab with Richard in the front, Sharon and me in the back with the big knapsack and our packages and headed back (hopefullly, fingers crossed) to the Cruise Terminal.
We got to the intersection just before the Cruise Terminal road where the driver needed to turn right and we were waiting at the traffic light. The driver turned around and looked at us both and said ”Turn” and indicated he would be turning right. I am good with directions and recognized the building on the corner as the Custom’s Office and said ”Yes, Turn Right”. Thank goodness! We made it back to the ship in record time, for a record low price and we didn’t almost hit a bus! Richard paid the driver 200 rupees and the driver went to find us 20 rupees change. Richard told him to keep the change and the driver was so excited that we had given him a tip. We were just happy frankly that the cab ride had turned out ok! Uber would have been so much easier if we had known about Uber, but that would be our last cab ride in India, so luckily we saved the best for last!
We were pretty thirsty from our foray off the ship into Mumbai in 32C heat, so as soon as we got back to the Atrium on the Neptune, we found a table to sit and ordered some drinks. I quite enjoy the ice cold Non alcoholic mint julep after a hot day off the ship because it is so refreshing, so that is what I ordered.
We couldn’t wait to show Richard what we had bought at the market, so we started a ‘show and tell’ display in the Living Room of the Atrium. The ship was pretty empty given most people were out on tours.
The Living Room of the Neptune and our ’show and tell’ display for Richard.
Richard wanted us to show him everything we bought, so we headed for our cabin to put it all out on the bed.
Sharon’s pile with me holding her jewelry!
Showing off our new clothing and my new ankle bracelets!
Matchy matchy…sort of.
Borrowing Sharon’s necklace she just purchased.
We had a good shopping spree at the market and felt pretty good about our purchases. It was nice to be able to go shopping with Sharon and experience the market through someone else’s eyes, who had not experienced it before. Richard went for a nap after our ‘show and tell’ and me and Sharon headed to the pool grill to get some lunch, since the World Cafe was soon closing.
We had been invited by Viking to attend a special affair today called the ‘Mumbai Mela’. We had chosen 4:30pm, which was the last time offered, since we thought having a later time would allow us to have the free time we wanted during the day to go shopping or sightseeing. We had to be shoreside at 4:30pm to catch the bus and for some reason we thought we had to be in the Star Theatre for 4:30pm, so we had to hustle to get off the ship and through Immigration and to the waiting buses. We were not the last to board thankfully and away we went for about a 30 minute bus ride to South Mumbai to the Mela venue.
I have learned to sit in the window seat on the bus, because you just never know what you will see out the window as we travel from the ship to the planned destination for the day. Sometimes the sights I see are beautiful, some are heartbreaking, and some make you wonder why?
This man was working on the street near the Indian Custom’s Office and the same street that led to the International Cruise Terminal. I believe he is a cobbler from the looks of the device in front of him. The shoes are neatly lined up to the side of him, so I think this is his stall that he works from.
A fine place to sit or live? In the median between the highway with the metal sculptures for company.
The G-20 were having subcommittee meetings in Mumbai while we were visiting and there were many flags flying at different places, as well as traffic diversions too.
Posters everywhere welcoming the G20 delegates
South Mumbai waterfront welcoming the G20.
A nice looking ‘green‘ building in South Mumbai,
A little parkette between the two roadways with some colourful graffiti.
More very good graffiti.
We pulled off the main road and started going through the side lot to the Mumbai School for the Blind, so we thought we must be getting close to the venue where the Mumbai Mela would be held.
An interesting round building. Could this be where the Mela is taking place?
But wait…what do I see here? It looks like there is a fight going on outside my window!
Look closely. Can you see it?
I wonder what the issue is? Someone is not happy that they chose the same fabric for their clothes?, because no one wants to see themselves coming, on another person. Or??? Hmm….one of those things that makes you wonder!
This could get ugly! Yeesh. The things I see from the window of a bus. It pays to have my phone ready at all times for photo opportunities.
Being greeted at the Mela.
We arrived as I thought at the top of the hill in front of this white, round building. We alighted from our buses and proceeded to the entrance of the venue and were welcoming with a traditional necklace and the bindi (red dot) to embrace the Indian culture we were going to experience this evening.
We took the elevator to the 3rd floor of the facility and were greeted with a sensory overload of music, colour and dancing!
I didn’t know where to look there was so much going on!
A horse greeting me!
The outdoor venue was beautifully decorated with a colourful banners and a stunning backdrop on the stage.
All of the walls were perfect for photo opportunities in front of nice colourful wall hangings. Many people were wearing colourful turbans which were being tied on their heads, while having Indian food appetizers.
I saw that a few ladies were off to the side of the venue doing Mehndi using henna to paint hands with traditional designs, so I went over to wait for the Mehndi to be done on my hands.
Mehndi or in the West, known as a henna tattoo. Typically applied in Indian tradition during Hindu weddings and festivals. Muslims also use Mehndi in weddings and festivals too. After about 15-20 minutes the Mehndi dries and the design underneath is set. I had to be careful not to hit anything with my right hand for the next little while!
Servers were going around passing out delicious appetizers which were being kept warm with sterno candles underneath these metal serving dishes. The signs on the food indicated what was being offered and the spicy sauces were off to the side for the discriminating palate.
Malai Broccoli! A cream cheese was melted over the cooked broccoli and the nice green sauce on the side was quite spicy and delicious!
Hara Bhara Kebab! Made with spinach, potato, green peas, spices and herbs. Again the green spicy sauce was on the side. Delicious!
I had heard that there was another section of the Mela that was offering turban tying, sari tying and bangle making so I wandered over to see what that was all about.
Margaret having a sari tied on her. You can see her Mehndi is different than the one I had done on my hand.
There was a very long line for the bangle maker.
Working over a small coal stove, the bangle maker heated up some enamel on the end of a wooden gadget, which he then rolled out and twisted while hot, and then heated the ends to join them together. Once the bangle was formed from the enamel, he heated a round metal bracelet that he had sized on our hand, and then added the metal to the enamel and covered the metal, while the enamel was hot. He kept putting the bracelet on a wooden sizing device to make sure the bracelet would be completely round. I waited about 20 minutes for my finished bracelet.
Receiving my finished bracelet. I had to wait about 5 minutes for my bracelet to dry, so while I was waiting I decided to go and get more Mehndi done on my other hand!
Beautiful mehndi designs by this talented mehndi artist! I gave her a $2USD tip for doing both of my hands. Tipping is very optional in India.
Unfortunately my bracelet cracked shortly after I got back to the ship.
We had still not had our turban’s tied, so it was now time for us both to get our turbans.
Margaret had my phone and she was snapping photos with it, while I held her phone.
The guy tying the turban kept pulling and pulling on the turban fabric and I wasn’t sure what he was doing, so I have that look on my face like ‘what the heck is going on?’
I still had not visited the other side of the venue which had a full dinner buffet and a dessert buffet.
Bill was telling me something funny as we wandered by the Viking sign all made out of crushed red and white pebbles. Very cool!
The next Bollywood star?!
‘Pat the dog, screw-in the lightbulb’ Bollywood dancers. Brothers from another mother. Gene, Bill and Richard.
Margaret enjoying the delicious desserts in her Indian attire she picked up from India town in Singapore! I never did get to the main course buffet, opting to try some of these delicious Indian desserts instead!
Jalebi was my favorite dessert of the evening.
What a fun evening we had! The call to the buses was made for about 7pm and we lined up for the elevator to descend to the ground floor and our waiting buses. If we had never looked off the balcony of the venue, we would have though all of Mumbai was enjoying such a splendid evening.
But this is the reality in Mumbai. A city of stark contrasts.
We enjoyed our evening at the Mumbai Mela put on by Viking. It gave us an appreciation for the culture, food and traditional activities which go on at an Indian festival. I’m glad we signed up for the evening off the ship, to enjoy some company with friends, and also to see more of the city, albeit, mostly from the bus windows.
Asiatic Society of Mumbai Town Hall is a neoclassical building located in the Fort locality of South Mumbai. The Asiatic Society houses the State Central Library and a museum. The literary society of Bombay conducted a lottery to raise the money to build this building in 1833. The building holds many ancient manuscripts in Persian, Prakrit, Urdu and Sanskrit languages along with a first issue of Dante’s ‘Inferno’. The building is also a great place to meet up with friends on a Sunday evening in Mumbai too!
We arrived back at the International Cruise Terminal and I guess a few of the turbans made it to the top of the fence!
Waiting to go through security before heading back to the ship.
What a great second day in Mumbai. I know there is a lot more to this City of stark contrasts, but we were happy with what we had seen on Day 2 in Mumbai. Tomorrow we have to be back on board by 1pm, sailing at 2pm, so we did not have a lot of time left to experience this amazing place. We went to bed as soon as we arrived back to the ship, to make sure we had enough energy for Day 3 in Mumbai!