Arriving at 10am, we looked out the windows of the plane and I could see the familiar smog and the dense cluster of buildings poking through. Mumbai, I’m home.
This is my 9th visit to the incredible land of India. It really does feel like I’m returning to somewhere I came from. Perhaps as the Hindus suggest, I did have another life before this one. Or many. And at least one of them was in India. I’m hedging my bets I was a princess, or for now we’ll go with that… it may offset some of my demands ;).
For my partner Matt, it will be his first time to the exotic sub-continent. I sat him down in the airport at Singapore before our early morning flight and gave him a bit of a briefing. I advised on some of the things to be prepared for and be conscious of. I also told him that although I would love to share this amazing country with him, I will not force it upon him and will leave him to draw his own conclusions. However, I did add a word of warning that although things are different, doesn’t mean they are wrong and to note that I truly LOVE India and it will hurt my feelings if he criticises the way the country operates. Which let’s be honest is majority of the time chaotic and mad!
Our experience in the newly renovated Mumbai airport was great. We were through customs and baggage quickly with our easy to access e-visa. We then hit a roadblock when we got to the money side of things. I shall write another post on the madness of the currency change in India that has led to widespread chaos with shortages of money for all classes of society. For now, read this article in Forbes and watch this video on demonetisation by the talented comedy group, All India Bakchod.
A quick scan revealed no ATM’s. After asking, we were directed to one ATM was literally unplugged! We then found another which once we got to the withdrawal staged it reported “No cash in this ATM”. So we then had to go to money exchange who would only give us max 4000 rupees and charged us a fee of 400 rupees for the service. We also were only given two 2000 rupees notes. The highest currency notes in India. When meals are available for 100 rupees, taxis will be 500 rupees and 1L of water is just 30 rupees – I knew breaking it would be a struggle.
We found a snack stand in the airport where I convinced the lovely till manager to sell me the food and break our 2000 note.
Off to get an Uber. I was using my wifi so thought it would be wonderful – not so much at the airport. The airport is so densely packed with traffic that the Uber has trouble getting into the carpark and locating guests. I was quite worried but ended up finding the Uber Concierge helpers who contacted our driver and we were off!!
I was preparing Matt for some shock on arrival. But no. The boy was asleep in 5 mins and slept the whole way to my friend’s house. I’m impressed with his comfort in foreign lands.
Arriving to my friend’s home in Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai) really did feel like home. It was more than two years since my last visit but as I stepped into the house, it felt as though I was only here last week. My wonderful friend and host Priyo was so welcoming and it was the best way for Matt to ease into India.
We went out for the most important first stop – food! To Priyo’s favourite local food place, and what turned out to be mine also. South Indian food. What they often eat for breakfast, is available at all times. Idly, vada, samba, chutney and dosa. I may have to write a blog just for this food and restaurant but honestly, do yourself a favour and get onto this.
Next it was off to fulfil Matt’s highest wish for India, to get a cut throat or hot shave! Of course with Priyo as our guide he knew exactly where to go. Again, this deserves a blog of its own. These guys are absolute specialists and their skills are second to none. Matt was truly pampered and he just loved it. Aiming to get at least three of these while we are here. The best part, the price! $28AUD you’ll pay back home. Here…. 50 rupees aka one Australian dollar. $1! I was shocked and delighted.
The evening was spent watching the sunset from the high rise apartment balcony. Sipping on Old Monk Rum and eating Indian Chinese. Such an awesome first night in India and so many more wonderful experiences to come! Indian hospitality is the best in the world – Atithi Devo Bhava.
If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.
Written on Day 3 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.