After I finished reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, the soft spot for the city turned into an absolute impulse to discover it without further deferral. As it turned out, a few months later, I was standing on the rooftop of St. Regis, absorbing the skyline of Mumbai as the blend of cold air and overwhelming emotions continued to give me goosebumps. There’s no denying that Bombay had my heart in those moments.
This first visit to the city of dreams was nothing less than a touristy affair. With an itinerary in hand, my family made sure to visit every mainstream location (Siddhivinayak temple topping the list) besides grabbing the taste of vada pao. Nevertheless, the trip resulted in shopping bags amidst the chaos of Colaba causeway, tasting the exaggeratedly claimed Bombay pao bhaji, delving into the charm of Worli sea link, plodding the slippery rocks at Bandstand, sightseeing Gateway of India and finally, sitting at Marine Drive to watch the sun set.
Notwithstanding the amusement of this fancy trip, my thirst to capture the essence of this place was not satiated, and so, I returned. But this time, on a party-solo trip. Partly-solo, because I stayed with my father and solo because I travelled alone with no itineraries. Also, I travelled (mostly) on foot.
So, entirely based on my personal experience, here are my favourite picks for 'to-dos', to get immersed in Mumbai :
Lose yourself in assorted architecture
This is not based out of the habitual observations due to my profession but because the city is, in fact, adorned with varied architectural styles. Be it the Gothic style of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Art Deco style of Regal cinema or the Indo-Saracenic style of The Gateway of India, the richness of these nuances is abundant, especially in South Mumbai. During my walk from Churchgate station to CST and from CST to Gateway of India, I couldn't help but notice the intricate details of the charming archaic structures that reflects an era of Mumbai which has not been altered to a noticeable extent. One can simply explore the streets, shop at Colaba Causeway and conclude the day with a coffee date at Kala Ghoda Cafe or a chilled beer at Leopold Cafe.