Fondest memory: I had a series of acute conjunctivitis while in Mumbai and it wasn't helping much especially when I was walking around all day. I got some extremely medicated smelling eye wash in one of the roadside pharmacies which made it worst I seriously thought I was definitely going blind by the end of the day. I then visited Breach Candy Hospital as recommended by Lonely Planet as India's best medical services in North Mumbai. I was, as a foreigner, placed straight in front of the queue which is pretty not bad...lol! I was seen by the doctor within minutes. You do not need any identification, you pay right after your consultation which was very affordable comparing to western standards. You get your prescription and buy your medicine at the pharmacies. It definitely turned out way easier than I thought it would be. Travel insurance is a must to India so make sure you don't forget that before you leave for your holiday.
Favorite thing: An emotional taxi ride from the city to the airport will have you thinking twice about how lucky you are to be blessed with what you have. I snapped these photos as we were passing through the suburbs along Reay Road as I saw rows of slums which went on for a few miles until we finally turned into another road. You see people washing, cooking, kids playing and adults going on their usual day routine in front of their 5 by 5-feet madeshift hut.
Fondest memory: You haven't seen real traffic madness until you have seen Mumbai's traffic. Just as this picture describes, traffic rules are virtually not abided by. Pedestrains are halfway out in the middle of the road attempting to cross it while the red man is on. Cars don't stop for you either, so brave it and scream across the road!
Favorite thing: its illegal to bring plastic bags into India, although many ppl in India still use them please do not encourage it, its definitely illegal, also remember no liquids are allowed in cabin baggage, not even make up , shampoo, perfume, sun tan lotion... nothing liquid allowed in CABIN baggage.
It’s good rule to ask at least twice for an informations.
Money – Mumbai is the worst place to change money
But like other places in india, with discretion, you can bargain for a better rate.
Try Baroda bank Colaba Causeway a small exchange office rise up the stairs right side
Favorite thing: The first morning I went for a walk around my hotel which was right opposite the Bombay Hospital. Of course you have to expect a lot of staring in India wherever you go. Most will be just curious, others will offer a smile and say hello. The women tend to be a little more reserved at doing either of these. It is a little uncomfortable at first but when you realise that this is common for most people to do, you can relax and just smile and say hello back.
Favorite thing: Sadly it is the children that tug at the heart strings. They are brought up in these conditions not knowing any different. They are taught to beg at the sight of a foreigner and think this is acceptable. It is very difficult while looking at these poor little souls to say no, but offering anything often doesn’t help and also you can land yourself in all kinds of trouble with more children coming out of the cracks for the same. How mothers manage to feed their babies and little ones is beyond me. While they all seem to be clothed, the clothing is often filthy and tattered. There are plans to try and get more of these children into the education system.
Favorite thing: Mumbai has an estimated population of around 13 million people and while there is a large variety of languages spoke in the city the most common language spoken on the city streets is Bambaiya Hindi – a blend of Hindi, Marathi and Indian English. Marathai is actually the official language of the state (Maharashtra). While visiting however, you probably will find that English is fairly extensively spoken especially in business. There is a mixed bag of religions also in the city with 68% Hindus, 17% Muslims, 4% Christians and Buddhist and the rest are Jains, Jews, Parsis, Sikhs and atheists.
Favorite thing: On the other side of things for those who are able to seek an education, the number of schools is increasing. Children from 6 to 14 must attend school and schools are free. For those over 14 education becomes more difficult with fewer teachers and much bigger classes. The fee is low but the cost of books can become too costly for lower income families and results in children being discouraged from further education. Most of the colleges in Mumbai are affiliated to the University of Mumbai Right now, Mumbai is one of the cities in India with a high level of education with the overall literacy rate being above 86%, which is higher than the national average.
Favorite thing: It is unfortunate but Mumbai has Asia's biggest slum. In contrast the city also has some of the world's most expensive real estate. I was told by my guide that where there was a wall of any kind, homeless families created some kind of shanty living space. Landlords of these properties were then compelled to offer free water and electricity and really could do nothing to remove these people. I could not find any reference as to whether this was true. However just over half of Mumbai’s population live in slums or chawls (one room apartments). Only 10 to 15% live in proper houses, or high-rises while the rest live off the street. Rubbish accumulates as there are no gabbage men collecting the rubbish. There are plans in place to resettle many and further plans to continue finding these people homes. The population of Mumbai is about 13 million, with a density of about 29,000 persons per square kilometre.
Favorite thing: I was given advice before going to India, not to walk on my own. Being a female, blonde and traveling alone, it was not safe. However overall I found with enough precautions, this was not a problem in most places I travelled to in India. Mumbai appeared to be fairly safe and I kept asking the question before walking in any area, prepared to heed any warnings.
Favorite thing: The ride from the airport was a mix of amazement and disheartenment – not for myself but for the difficult life much of the population have to face on a day to day basis. We darted in and out of traffic, passed by many shanty’s and half hearted construction works. Locals were either gathered around talking in groups or sleeping wherever there was a private space – from car bonnets to the pavement. What really struck me was the number of taxi’s there. All exactly the same and either on the roads or parked on the side of them. There was no tour commentary at this time of the night so I had no idea where I was and just much in need of getting to my hotel and sleeping.
Arriving during the early hours of the morning is probably not the best first sighting of Mumbai or indeed India but at the same time I was amazed by the activity still buzzing at this hour.
The airport itself was a bit of a shock to the system. At that hour of the morning in a dingy light, it was old and tired looking. Going through immigration was painless but then there was no direction as to which way to go with baggage signs going both ways. Of course I took the wrong way (as there was no one to follow) and found myself in an area of the terminal with only a few sleeping workers and the other few talking and just looking at me. No baggage in sight. Retracing my steps, I saw a few others coming through immigration, equally as confused as I was. We finally found the baggage area and exited through customs without a problem. Fortunately I was being met. I would not like to have to dealt with prepaid taxi’s and jostling drivers at that hour of the night.
Favorite thing: Mumbai has been a fascination for me for many years. Have I seen the city now? Not by a long shot. I have certainly seen much of a concentrated area but Mumbai is vast and a mishmash of contrasts. Inspiring, uplifting, enriching to unfair, saddening and thought provoking. If it had not been for an inquisitive wanderlust father, I too may have called Mumbai my birthplace.
Favorite thing: Interestingly I found that the local telephone network Airtel has these units installed in McDonalds for people to charge their mobiles there while they eat. I saw another such unit at the airport in Delhi while waiting to fly out. No doubt they are in many places.
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