Thursday, 20 March 2014

Being A Local In Mumbai

If I hadn’t sojourned in Mumbai like a local, I would have never known it the way I did. I’d like to mention that I never cared to visit Elephanta Caves, which is said to be one of the most popular tourist sites in Mumbai. It’s just that I liked discovering the everyday flavours of the city more than hogging a particular spot. Tourist hot spots barely reveal anything about a city. To know a city in its true essence, it’s important to get acquainted to its ordinariness.


Mumbai unveiled itself to me in the four months that I spent there. The ‘city of stars’ is definitely a world of its own, which I loved exploring.

Also read about my first impressions of Mumbai as a local - In Mumbai - Living Like A Local

Here’s what I experienced in Mumbai -

Setting out in the rains

The spirit of Mumbai brushed off on me pretty quickly. I never thought I would ever roll up my jeans till the knee to walk in the pool of water on the road. That’s the way it is in Mumbai during the rains. I had also got used to splashes of water over me while travelling in an autorikshaw. No matter how torrentially it rains, the people of Mumbai go about their businesses normally. Nobody sits home because it’s raining. Everyone goes to work in their bathroom slippers and carries an umbrella everywhere.  

  
Travelling by the local trains

Initially, I hesitated to travel by a local train, but the long distances, high taxi fares and heavy traffic on the roads made me do it. I’d like to put aside what I didn’t like about the trains – the smells and the chaos, and talk about what you should notice when you happen to travel on a local, which is the non-glamorous side of Mumbai. The most interesting part of Mumbai local trains is the life hidden behind the greasepaint – life of hawkers, labourers, average working professionals and college students. It’s amusing to see vendors hop on a train and set up the stall in a jam-packed coach without a trace of anxiety.

            
Relishing the staple food

I wouldn’t say that I had a lot of the local specialities, but I did try a few things. The locals in Mumbai binge on stuff like Vada Pav, Sevpuri and Ragda Patties. People’s love for the pungent street food is quite evident. I, too, tasted the Mumbai-style Sandwiches, Pav Bhaji and Dosas, and had coconut water almost every day. The food choices in Mumbai reflect the city’s carefree character and vibrant soul.

    
Witnessing festive processions on the roads

I had only heard of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Mumbai, but never had a chance to witness the furore on my own. However, I got an opportunity to see the much talked about euphoric street jamborees on my last day in the city. I had left for the train station a few hours early due to the traffic. And on my way, I saw many glimpses of people carrying the Ganpati idol with elated singing and dancing.  


Staying out at night

Mumbai gets livelier as the sun sets. Yes, nobody goes to bed before 2 am. Since I am from North India, it was a bit of a shock for me to see people hovering around public places at 10 pm, while I was used to not stepping out of my home after 7 in the evening. After a while, even I frequented a café for a quick cupcake at night and watched a late night movie show with a friend in tow.

Also check out the photo essay on Mumbai Mornings

Sure, you can visit places like Marine Drive, Gateway of India or Juhu Beach to be complacent as a tourist, but if you want to explore Mumbai like a true traveller, experience it like a local.

Have you experienced Mumbai like a local?

16 comments:

  1. Its very true ,seeing a place like a local is the best way to get the essence of that place rather than as a tourist.
    http://travelingisbliss.blogspot.in/

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  2. Interesting experiences. I, absolutely agree to the fact that, to enjoy a place you need to be one amongst the locals.

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  3. I absolutely LOVE partying in Mumbai. I didn't like it when I visited as a tourist, but now that I'm living here and have friends to go out with it's a whole new city.

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    1. I can understand, Rachel. :) Mumbai is fantastic as a local!

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  4. Great take on my new hometown Renuka! Seems you had some good moments here - you should come back for the Ganesha festival - amazing:-) I am with you all the way - the best is to do as the locals:-) Happy to have locals friends too:-)

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    1. Thanks Eli :) Yeah, I'd like to come back to Mumbai sometime in the future and experience more of the local life. Hope to catch up with you too!

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  5. That dosa looks great! There is nothing like seeing a city through a locals eyes. I would also find it unusual to see people out after 10pm..funny in Delhi all the places close so early.
    Eli wrote this beautiful piece foe me on Mumbai..http://www.chaiacupoflife.com/hymn-to-mumbai

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    1. Yeah, Delhi is so different from Mumbai. The latter is so chilled out. Thanks for sharing the link. I'll check it out. :)

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  6. This has brought back some great memories of my time in Mumbai. I loved getting the local trains, was kind of terrified the first time, but the hustle and bustle on the train just reflects that of the city as a whole. So surreal watching people setting up stalls and selling goods on the move!

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    1. That's true, Catherine. :) Even I was terrified the first time I got on the local train, but I was okay after a while. It's interesting to see the local life on the train.

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  7. Interesting also travel with local treins for impregnation local life, wonderfull fotos, have a nice day.

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  8. I stumbled upon your Delhi vs Mumbai post on Indiblogger just now and made my way through 4 or 5 of your Mumbai related posts. I am a Delhiite who stayed in Mumbai for 1.5 months this summer for an internship (and it was my first visit). Had never experienced how life in a new place is while we are a 'local' and not a 'tourist'. Living in Mumbai the local way, let me be frank, I fell in love with the city.
    Great posts you have here Renuka! :)

    If interested, do check my post about Mumbai: http://antarik.blogspot.com/2014/07/mumbai-40-days-of-adventure.html

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    1. I'm glad you liked all posts on Mumbai. I have a special love for Mumbai. I keep saying it that it's a charming city!

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