Friday, May 9, 2014

A Mumbai Wedding

Hello Masala-ites,

It looks as though I have been an absentee blogger as of late. My appologies. Let's get you caught up on the latest adventures.

Daddy G and I dumped our 2 darling daughters on his sister and went to Mumbai to celebrate the wedding of a friend of ours from New York. Aside from our Goa trip, Daddy G and I have never traveled alone, so I was excited to take a trip with him without the kids.

We had a straight forward flight to Mumbai (that of course started at an ungodly hour of the morning).  We spent the first day exploring South Bombay/Colaba. After much security and id producing, we checked into our nice, but small hotel room right behind the Taj.  We ate at Leopolds, and Cafe Mondegar, which are long standing institutions in Colaba. I had read about Leopolds in Shantaram (a book), so I was thrilled to try it. I had Akara, which is an egg/masala/tomato dish that I loved, but Daddy G found too heavy for breakfast. It's a Parsi (or originated) joint, and if you're good, you can spot some artwork on the walls corresponding to that. Akara is a Parsi dish by the way. Leopolds was unfortunately involved in a terrorist act on Mumbai in 2008, and number of people died there. The heaviness still hangs in the air, but it's a nice place to eat for tourism value. Cafe Mondegar is delightfully chaotic and kitschy. With about 2 inches of personal space between tables and walls COVERED in art and stuff, it's an experience. Food was good though. I'm still not sure how the very professional waiters got around that place.

Colaba is most definitely a tourist place. I accordingly dragged Daddy G all over just taking it all in. We had a pretty free itinerary without the kids and roamed all over South Mumbai. I did some shopping at fashion street for both my kids and myself. To my great disappointment, no one wanted to bargain 1 rupee. After all the stories, it was a bit disappointing, even though nothing was too expensive.

We met up with another college friend of Daddy G and ended up a bit drunk and eating sushi in a Japanese place. I LOVE sushi, but I never thought I would be eating in India. Pleasant surprise.

The next day we took a cab north to meet up with our friend. As decently well off Gujaratis in Mumbai, the wedding was a 3 day affair. This was day 1 in a sari all day for me. We had brunch. and hung out to watch the puja (religious ceremony) that came along with it. All the girls got mehndi done on their hands, which I absolutely loved. It looked a bit like the picture below, only mine stopped right under my palms and my finger tips were completely colored in.

I definitely want to do this again. it stayed on my hands FOREVER, although was quite faded after 3 days. It's India - you HAVE to wash your hands all the time. After the function, we went out with some friends to  a pub and hung out for an hour or two. SO great to go out at night and now worry about it turning 11 and everything shutting down. We stayed in the ISKON temple (they keep rooms for devotees, of which our friend's uncle was) which was beautiful. The rooms were spacious and beautiful. I ended up getting sick that evening, which I thought could possibly be attributed to too much Old Monk and cigarettes at the pub. Unfortunately this wasn't the case.

The next day was the Barat (in which everyone dances the groom down the street to the wedding venue) and the actual wedding. I woke up with a fever and Delhi Belly. I was in no condition to be attending, but could not really bow out and thought if I just hung in there, I could see most of it. I put on another sari and we left. I realized when I got there that standing up was absolutely exhausting. I tried hiding out on a couch corner, which lasted until we got in the car to go dance. In India you can't just sit down on the ground or lean on anything (everything is just dirty), so the wait was absolutely torture for me. I sat in the car for a while, which helped, but then Daddy G pulled me out to go dance with everyone. In case you don't know, I have the dancing skills of a spastic anteater. Seriously. I just cannot dance for beans. I sucked it up and participated - even though it was so hard. I enjoyed myself a lot though, spastic or not. I was exhausted by the time we got to the wedding hall, which was on a military base. A big, walled in courtyard was decorated with fabric, flowers, and tons of lights. It was pretty and we sat at tables. I was barely upright at this point, so Daddy G brought me back to the temple to sleep it off. The only thing I regret was not being able to join in the eating,  Daddy G told me it was truly impressive how many appetizers and dishes they had. 

I woke up feeling better the next day, which is pretty normal for me. We caught a play at Prithvi Theater - one of the oldest theater's in Mumbai. It's tucked back in a nice neighborhood in a small building. They have a mix of Hindi, Marati (local language in Maharashtra where Mumbai is located) and English plays. We saw Jungle Book, which was a mix of Hindi and Marati. I didn't understand everything, but the play was extremely well done, and not a kiddy play, even though there were lots of kids present. The actors obviously enjoy their craft and work very hard at it. You simply must go there if you are in Mumbai. 

We spent the afternoon on Juhu beach which was delightfully uncrowded and decently clean, but not for swimming.

The cocktail reception was that evening, so I finally decked up in Western clothes and we ate and drank a stupidly large amount and danced our butts off. It was amazing fun. Don't think stuffy cocktails, it's more like open bar, DJ, dance floor, and buffet with lots of drunk, partying people. We even got to see the Mumbai cops drop by at 3 am to try and shut the party down. I'm not sure how much money changed hands, but I'm sure some did.

The next day was free and we woke up very late - we were out til 5 am. We wandered around the northern section of Juhu and walked by the seaside. We ended up in the bandstand, which is a part type area with walkways and climbing near the sea. After a call from a friend, we ended up on the beach in the evening and explored all the Mumbai chats and street food.  We just hung out on the beach at night. We had lots of good conversation when we weren't being mobbed by ladies trying to give me henna - which I already had, or guys offering massages (which were surprisingly legit). The next morning we flew back home.

Overall, I LOVED Mumbai. We went in winter time and I heard it's quite hot and humid in summer time. I wouldn't necessarily want to live there, but I sure did enjoy visiting and seeing the Gujarati version of a Mumbai wedding.