Mumbai: Full of energy, always !

I am living in MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan Region) for almost 20 years now. The usual descriptions of Mumbai are – a maximum city, a city that never sleeps and the capital of Maharashtra, second most populous city in India and 7th most populous city in the world. Too many people and vehicles but so little space. Mumbai is synonymous with Bollywood and Marathi cinema and theater. It is the commercial and financial capital of India. Mumbai is also known for its dabbawalas (tiffin box carriers) whose accuracy with simple working style has fascinated many. To me Mumbai is a reflection of India, my home, my world which is full of energy and where people accommodate each other. The following quotes describe Mumbai more aptly.

Mumbai is infectious. Once you start living in Mumbai, working in Mumbai, I don’t think you can live anywhere else

Yash Chopra

It’s not so much what you learn about Mumbai, It’s what you learn about yourself, really. It’s a funny old hippie thing, but it’s true as well. You find out a lot about yourself and your tolerance, and about your inclusiveness

Danny Boyle

ऐ दिल है मुश्किल जीना यहाँ, ज़रा हट के, ज़रा बच के, ये है बॉम्बे मेरी जान !

O my heart, life is difficult here, move a little, be careful this is Bombay my love !

Song from 1956 Hindi movie CID

Mumbai Vada Pav is tastier than the McDonald’s burger

Mumbaikars

I came, I saw and Mumbai conquered me !

Anonymous

Mumbai experienced unprecedented situation with the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, which applied brakes on the maximum city. Last 8 months, we limited outdoor activities – just only to essentials. However I and wife decided to ride to Marine Drive, Gateway of India and then have breakfast at the Leopold Cafe. We had been to these places many times, but never went early morning on a motorcycle ride.

The ride

The day of Sunday, 20 December 2020, started quite early at 5 AM for us. We hit the road at 6 AM. I live in Thane in an area which is very close to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and surrounded by hills, the temperature is about 3 – 4 deg. C lower as compared to the main city. Since it was Sunday and early morning, there was little traffic on the road. As the motorcycle gained speed, we experienced a chill factor in the breeze. It was dark on the road and the street lights on the road were still on. We reached the Pizza By the Bay, by the side of the Marine Drive beach at 7 AM, in 1 hour.

Marine Drive

Marine Drive is a ~ 3.5 km long sea side promenade alongside a wide road in South Mumbai area of the city of Mumbai. The official name of the road is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road. Any time of the day and in all seasons this is place is busy and occupied by people. We parked the motorcycle by the side of the road and found us a place to sit. The energy of the place was just awesome. Several people were taking their routine morning walks, some were running, some cycling on the roads. Several families were visiting with young children. Around 7:30 AM, with the sunrise, we could see the Mumbai skyline. Everyone was taking due precautions for COVID-19 and maintaining the distance. A Mumbai Police van was also stationed here. The Mumbai Police, were on the frontline in responding to COVID-19 along with the medical staff. A splendid work by both the agencies !!

In the evening, people take leisurely stroll and see the sunset on the Arabian see. In the night the street lights along the road appear to form a string of pearls in a necklace. So this place is also called Queen’s Necklace. One of the best parts of Mumbai. If you visit this place around lunch / dinner time – Pizza By The Bay is just across the street and offers beautiful views.

A good restaurant with beautiful views

The Gateway of India

From the Marine Drive we reached the Gateway of India. Since it was early morning and a Sunday, not many people were around the Gateway of India. We took a round around the place on the motorcycle and then found a place to park it. We walked from the parking lot to the Gateway of India and took some photographs of the monument and the adjoining Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. It is hard to imagine this place with very few people, but that is what we saw! With bright sunlight the monument and the surrounding sea looked very beautiful. In normal times this place is full of tourists, photographers, street vendors and the local residents. From the jetty you get ferries going to the Elephanta Caves. A different experience !

Night view from an earlier visit

Leopold Cafe

We were quite hungry by now, so we parked the bike and walked into the Leopold Cafe for breakfast. This old style cafe and bar was established in 1871. Normally this place is quite busy in the afternoon and evenings and is popular with foreign tourists as well as locals. We ordered sandwiches and chips with coffee for us. I had visited this place after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Not much change in the ambience. This cafe is referenced in the novel “Shantaram” and its sequel “The Mountain Shadow” written by Australian author Gregory David Roberts.

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