We chanced upon the Cafe Royal, once visited by Bill Clinton, where we enjoyed our first two Indian Kingfisher beers of the trip. I promptly knocked mine all over the table and menu - I blame lack of sleep. We then ordered some dishes to share. Masala papad for starter followed by yellow dhal and kitchari dhal, with raita and rotis. When it arrived it became clear that our eyes had been bigger than our bellies, we could have managed with half the food.
Walking back to the hotel, things had quietened down and the streets were emptier. It was now we got a clearer glimpse of the darker, sadder side of India. Many homeless people, men, women and children were bedding down for the night on paths, in doorways and in alleyways whilst the odd stray dog or cat meandered along and several large rat scurried by.
Neither Andy or I have ever been to India, and despite doing our research and talking to others who have visited we weren't sure what to expect. Everyone has different views. Our first day over and integration and assimilation complete our first impressions of India and Mumbai agreed with what many people had said. It was quite intense and an assault on the senses.
In comparison everything in the UK seems a little flat, bland even. Here in India (Mumbai at least), you never know what's round the next corner. One minute all you can smell is sewerage or horse manure, the next you catch wafts of the gorgeous scent of jasmine or delicious spices. In the centre of town your ears are pummeled with a cacophony of blaring taxi and bus horns, and shouting street vendors, whilst near the sea front you can just hear the quiet chattering of couples and families strolling, passing the time of day. Down one street are dingy, dilapidated buildings and down another colourful lights and garlands.
We definitely jumped in at the deep end having Mumbai as our first stop in India, but wouldn't have had it any other way. We couldn't wait to see what else it and the rest of India has in store for us!
We'd love to share the rest of our Mumbai trip with you including a bit more about the must do's and see's. Watch this space for our 72 hours in Mumbai itinerary at some point and also a lowdown of the scams to watch out for.
Have you been to India and was Mumbai your first stop? How did you find it?
This post was originally published on Can Travel Will Travel.