Sunday, 5 March 2017


Our hotel is on Marine Drive Bay– a lovely promenade which is very popular with locals (Mumbaikars) and tourists and includes the Chowpatty beach area which we visited last year to sample street food on our guided evening tour.

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a large contingent of power boat racing people at our hotel. They're organising a race which is billed as the 'Nexa P1 Powerboat Indian Grand Prix of the Seas' - a trifle overstated methinks

There was lots of opposition to the race taking place as the organisers needed to block off access to a huge area of sea to mark out racing circuits and also they commandeered parts of the popular Chowpatty beach to erect safety stations etc.,   The local authorities initially refused permission for the race but the organisers appealed to the High Court who gave permission for the event to go ahead on the understanding all the buoys/markers would be cleared away within two days.

As we walked back to our hotel, via Marine Drive promenade we realised a qualifying race was about to start so we made our way closer to the start point and watched the action.

I now know that there are 40 of these P1 Panther Powerboats in the world and 12 of them have been shipped to Mumbai for the race - six teams in all with each boat having a pilot and a navigator.  The racetrack is 5.2km and the speed trials consist of 15 laps.  The Finale is tomorrow (Sunday) and the race will be over 20 laps.  The prize money is US$125,000 

The P1 Panther powerboat was designed by former Royal Navy (UK) engineers.  The boats are 28ft long and 5' 6" tall and reach top speed of  120 kmph.  The concept is to race identical production boats over a course close to shore which is 'tight and fast' in an attempt to make it a popular spectator event.   

Most of the races have been in the USA with a couple scheduled in the UK  - July 16th at Milford Haven and September 2nd at Scarborough.  The race in Mumbai, India is the first outside of those two countries and the aim is to build up a circuit of International courses as happens with Grand Prix motor racing - personally I'm  not sure there will be enough interest but ... watch this space I guess!

These young people were more interested in blowing bubbles than watching the racing 

 Nearly 6000 yellow and red floats/balloons have been used to mark the course/track but some have obviously not been anchored very securely and have made their way ashore

We arrived back at the hotel at 4pm feeling very hot and tired after 5 hours in the hot weather, battling Mumbai traffic etc.  We sat by the pool with a cold drink and watched the world go by for a couple of hours.

In memory of the 30 people killed at the Oberoi/Trident hotel in the 2008 Terrorist attack

Indian crows abound everywhere - and these joined me as I stood admiring the view.   They aren't shy!

 they get very active as the sun sets

 and a few having a final dip in the hotel pool ... they had a member of staff on hand with a bucket of water and a broom sweeping up the 'little packages' left by all the birds - a never ending task

Our last Indian sunset ... till next year

We'd put a change of clothing in our hand luggage so retrieved our bags from the Hotel Porter and used the hotel's spa/sauna facilities to shower and change for the onward journey. BA sent a text message asking us to check in one hour earlier than planned as they are expecting congestion at the airport so we changed our car booking from 9.30pm to 8.30 pm.

We cleared all the airport formalities in around 45 minutes which is pretty good for India (so much red tape) and have been sitting around ever since. I've been uploading photos from my camera to the laptop and am in the process of reducing the sizes to suit Blogger … this is always a very slow process as my camera takes large files/pictures and the travel computer isn't very powerful.

We get an hour's free wifi at the airport so will try to publish another blog post but its painfully slow  …

update:   the airport wifi signal was too weak to upload pictures so I've posted this now we're back in England.   Boy that was a nasty surprise - when we left Mumbai at 2.15am (local time) this morning the weather was still 26deg (down from 38deg daytime temperature).    Heathrow at 7am this morning (GMT) was 5deg and absolutely thrashing down with rain. So we went from 38deg C to 38degF. Quite a shock to the system.


This is our final day in Mumbai – well in India actually, unless you count the couple of hours tomorrow morning when we'll be hanging around Mumbai airport waiting for our 2.15am flight (yawn)!

After breakfast we checked out of our room and left our cases with the porters in the hotel. We'd booked a hotel fleet car to take us to the airport at 9.30pm so had a day to kill in the City.

We walked to Churchgate Station to see whether the Dabbawalas work at weekends – we saw/photographed them last year and loved the 'theatre' of it all. Scores of white-garbed delivery men arriving on trains between 11.30 and Noon, transporting office workers' lunches in tiffin tins from their homes to their workplaces. 

There were some at the station today but it was a very watered-down affair and I felt sorry for the tourists who'd been coached in to see the sight .. obviously at weekends there are fewer offices open so the operation is greatly scaled down. 

The Dabbawalas who were working merely got off the trains carrying a few parcels/bags – not the yard long trays loaded with tins carried on their heads (causing the commuters to duck to avoid being injured)

Flower stall near the station 

the flower seller

A few of the Dabbawalas - hanging around the station awaiting delivery of the tiffin tins ... and some of the other characters at the scene

Most of them are illiterate but they identify the tiffin tins by means of codes and marks on the tins/packages and the error level is minute - about 1 in 6m!

They may be illiterate but most have expensive mobile phones!

Once the tiffin tins arrive off the train they are transported by bicycle, handcart, moped etc to the offices/desks of the recipients.    A couple of hours later the empty tins are collected, taken back to the railway and carried by the Dabbawalas back to the homes for refilling the next day. 

So the lady of the house (wife or mother) prepares fresh food for her husband/son each day so he doesn't have to rely on street food

a few of the street vendors selling wares to tourists who'd arrived to watch the Dabbawalas - mainly 'faces' here as I'm always after 'characters' to draw

After that we set off to have a look at Chhatrappati Shivaji Terminus(formerly known as Victoria Terminus or VT - much easier to pronounce).    It was the first truly public building in Bombay and an iconic site where 3 million people pass through each day.   It was targeted in the 2008 terrorist attack and 58 people lost their lives there.   Six buildings were attacked including the Trident Hotel (where we are staying) and the Taj Mahal Hotel where we had afternoon tea yesterday.   Lots of people were killed that day.

VT took ten years to build and opened in 1887 - it really is quite stunning inside - the pictures don't do it justice.    Obviously it is well looked after - there was an over-riding smell of brass polish pervading the air when we got there

This is the ticket office area

and the main concourse ... I couldn't go further in without a ticket as security is understandably very strict there now

We love the architecture in Mumbai (much of it based on our own London buildings).  I took many more photos of buildings but can't remember which ones I posted in last year's blog.   I don't want to repeat myself more than necessary so won't post any of the latest.

We wandered around the back streets as that's where most of the more 'colourful' scenes are found … 

We stopped to watch a coconut salesman pouring fresh coconut water into a plastic bag (take-away food at its purest) and David somehow got coaxed into buying one for himself but opted to drink it from the shell with a straw. We were offered the white coconut flesh as well but didn't take him up on that. 40 pence well spent as there must have been half a litre of so refreshing coconut water.

 Take-away coconut water drink
the 'eat/drink in' option

We passed a couple of sports grounds where various cricket matches were being played (with more enthusiasm than skill so I'm told by his lordship ).  

We stopped to watch a couple of groups playing. 
I know nothing about cricket but on a hot day the 'thwack' of the ball on the bat is a very satisfying sound.   It also gave us the opportunity to stand under the shade of a tree and cool down. 

I loved the refreshment stalls selling plates of fresh fruit to the spectators – even the most basic street food is beautifully presented

David and I got separated at one point – I assumed he was with me but soon realised he'd got sidetracked somewhere (which is a common occurrence when we're out together).   We were in a very, very busy part of the City and I couldn't reach David by phone as his mobile tends to go straight to voice message which is frustrating. I know he panics if he loses sight of me in India but had a brainwave  – I made my way to the nearby bus station/terminus.   As friends will know, if anything gets David excited its a bus (or several). I texted him to tell him where I was and just sat in the shade waiting for him to appear (which took less than 10 minutes)! He can always find his way to a bus station ...

Of course, I then had to photograph him and/or the buses so he can send pictures to his bus-spotter friends …


By this time we were feeling very hot and bothered. As its the weekend all the streets were crowded with market stalls and shoppers so progress was slow.

We did love this 'stall' though …. Pick a title, any title …. how on earth do they know what they have in stock? David ended up buying this book (wifey having haggled a good price for it)!

We must have been looking frazzled as a kindly Indian gent asked David if he could help us in any way..  David asked if there was somewhere nearby we could sit and have a cold drink and the lovely chap led us through back streets to a very old bar/restaurant (opened in 1960) where we found air-conditioning and cold beer. He was very pleased to try out his English on us as we walked together.

As usual, a selection of 'street' scenes taken during our walk

You really do have to have eyes in the back of your head when crossing roads in India - horns blare constantly as a way of letting other drivers or pedestrians know you are alongside/coming through etc., the tuk-tuk drivers and motorcyclists weave in and out of the larger vehicles and there is no real lane discipline.    

We are quite adept at crossing roads now ... you have to act a bit like a cat really, fold your ears back and be bold and don't slow down or stop!  Traffic will weave around you - unless it's a cow of course when it will plough straight into you!

Indian street food - these are Panipuri and quite delicious

This is a common sight around the City.    People pay the lady for grass/leaves to feed the cows (it gives them some sort of kudos with the Gods I believe) so the 'punter' earns brownie points, the lady gets cash and the cows get fed .. 

The Indian people carry amazingly bulky/heavy loads on their shoulders and/or heads.    At the smaller hotels/homestays we visited the porters always hoisted our cases onto their shoulders and happily climbed stairs that way.    

Siesta time

Back at the flower stall we passed earlier in the day ... happy cat and dog

No Health & Safety issues here .... barefoot and no hard hat, but he does appear to have a rope tied around his waist so just hope that would be enough to protect him in the event of a fall

He is actually working 7 storeys up on the balcony to the left of the lamp-post!