The streets of Mumbai

A city has the potential to be a friend, a lover, a protector or the greatest antagonist that ever was and Mumbai (Bombay) can be all these and more in one single day. Walk through the streets of the place I’ve called home, lived in and lost in with this series of articles dedicated to the city with ephemeral moods but a lasting spirit. Plunge into it with…

 Cruise along the Causeway

Jewellry

Tousled haired foreigners with backpacks wander through the street, stopping when they see something that catches their eye. What follows is a raucous party of loud voices, in different languages. Each trying to convince the other that he should be listened to. That’s Colaba Causeway for you.

Senses have a tough job here as the sounds are overwhelming but the sights even more so. Clashing colours, stupendous shapes and thrifty trinkets all make their appearances. It’s difficult to mistake this street market as simply a typical tourist trap, which it is but locals swear by it as well.

Says avid shopper, Gayathry Latheef , “Shopping in causeway is fun because you never come back empty handed and you find everything you need in one street, from food to clothes to accessories and even, eye-candy.”

Mojris- For men and women

Formally known as Shahid Bhagat Singh road and informally as Colaba Causeway, it is as visited as its high profile neighbours, the Gateway of India and Taj Mahal hotel and palace. Gregory David Robert’s Colaba was one of intrigue, romance and drugs; the qualities that attract many who expect to relive his encounters.

It’s also just a street, where buyers meet sellers and relentless persuasion follows.  A curtain of jewellery, bronzed, silver and gold flutters in the air, alluringly, nudging you to enter the street. Café Mondegar one of Colaba’s oldest restaurants is Iranian owned and almost always full, is the first on the street.

As you walk along, it’s hard to escape the shouts of, ‘Miss, buy this. It’s the best quality’ but if you listen carefully you can hear that the prices for the locals and the prices for the unassuming foreigners differ as the vendors try to make a quick buck off those who don’t know better, a feature at almost every touristy location.

For the clotheshorse, there’s plenty to choose from. Whether its designer knock offs or indigenous outfits, it’s all out there and within grasp if you know how to spot what you like effectively and acquire it with smart bargaining.

Stalls that sell perfect replicas of perfumes, designer watches and sunglasses tempt those that want to look stylish but don’t want to pay the full price that comes with it.

Belts

Moving on, shops sell idols of Indian gods as well as hookah’s act as a metaphor for this street, that’s one thing in the day and a diametrically different one at night.

As day turns to night, this shopper’s street transforms, with visitors telling you that they’ve been propositioned by young women and drug peddler’s, surreptiously and sometimes, openly. Cafe Leopold, one of the iconic restaurants, been here since the 1800’s has a formidable reputation that goes beyond just serving delectable vegetable samosas.

Rainbow coloured

The streets of Mumbai are ever changing; one minute something is forever and the next it isn’t there anymore. Much like Colaba causeway, a quaint, busy street in the day unrecognisable from its night avatar.

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Published in: on November 7, 2011 at 11:10 am  Comments (1)  
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Shoppers Delight!

A lingering smell of freshly baked cupcakes in the air, the Beatles belting out ‘Here comes the sun’ on a loud speaker and two women tugging at the same dress. A typical scene at Portobello Market, London.

Housed in a long meandering lane in the Notting Hill area of London the closest tube station is Ladbroke Grove. At the station, a sign points to the Market pushing prospective shoppers in the right direction and building up excitement.

Visitors to London hear about it before they reach the city and locals swear by it. With good reason!

The sheer volume of the market is amazing, with hundreds of tiny stalls..selling design ware, vintage goodies and quirky fashion. If you shop here, you are likely to have a very unique look! The stalls keep shifting and changing, so what you find once may not be there the next  time!

You can enter with just 30 pounds and go away satisfied with a quirky new dress, a painting or you could max out your credit card on the designer stalls. Up and coming designers rent stalls here to show off their unique products.

One must look carefully in the stalls because on occasion some of the vintage sellers have branded merchandise. Well maintained Jimmy Choo bags and Harley Davidson jackets are known to have made an appearance in the market!

This is when you find people fighting over the same goods and bargaining with sellers to get a better price! Other than obscure stalls selling kitschy fashion high-end boutiques are tucked away in one corner of the market.

As you walk on the fashion market gives way to Portobello’s art and antique market.

Here, enthusiasts can find a rug from the 1940’s in impeccable conditions, paintings and even crockery! Beatles records, memorabilia of rock bands and even lingerie is available if you look closely enough.

For foodies, stalls selling food from the world over along with quaint cafés dot the lane so you can always recharge your batteries before you hit the shops again.

Shopaholic is an ugly word that makes you think of addictions, which are bad.  I prefer to think, Portobello simply unleashes the shopper within you and its diversity draws even the most reticent shopper in.

Sunny, cloudy or rainy, any day is converted into a happy one when you visit Portobello!

Published in: on November 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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